A Widnes firm has been fined after both putting workers at risk and allowing conditions on site to fall well below the expected standard.

Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard how operatives were smashing asbestos roof sheets with crow bars to remove them from a derelict warehouse in Bootle, Merseyside. In addition to the risk of asbestos exposure, workers were at risk of falling into open service pits as no edge protection or fall restraint equipment was in place.

An inspection by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) also found that there were no toilet or washing provisions on site.

The HSE found that the firm failed to put measures in place to manage the work or to ensure the health & safety of operatives. The company also failed to implement safe systems of work or correct procedures for removing asbestos material. The company pleaded guilty and was fined £14,000 and ordered to pay costs of £ 6,817.44.

Expert Analysis

What is especially noteworthy is that the HSE has focused strongly on Regulation 15(11) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, under which contractors must consider what is ‘reasonably practicable’ when it comes to the welfare of site workers.

In practice this means balancing welfare requirements such as access to drinking water, toilet facilities and rest areas against the costs involved, given the size, duration and nature of the project.

Contractors need to properly scope out a job’s welfare arrangements prior to construction work starting. For short-term projects, utilising public or shared facilities may be considered reasonable however larger projects may need dedicated facilities provided by the contractor.

Furthermore extremes of weather should be taken into account. Such as drinking water becomes even more important during hot weather whereas access to warmed rest areas is essential during cold weather.

The highlighted cases demonstrate that failure to adequately provide for these basic human necessities will be taken seriously by the authorities and may well result in enforcement action.

Health & Safety Support

Croner offer a wide range of health & safety services – from day-to-day advice line support to expert consultancy.

To ensure compliancy we can carry out a SafeCheck review of your business. From just £295 you will receive two visits from a Croner health & safety expert who will deliver a detailed report of areas of weakness and non-compliancy.

Contact 0808 145 3490 for more information.