August 4, 2023

Construction company fined after Shropshire bricklayer fractures skull

From our colleagues at Barbour EHS.

A construction company has been fined £12,000 after a Shropshire bricklayer fell through a stairwell opening and fractured his skull.

The incident took place on 8 June 2020 after the company was hired as the principal contractor to oversee the refurbishment of agricultural barns into houses in Telford.

The bricklayer was laying the blocks to form the gable walls for a two-storey extension alongside another employee. The pair set up a working platform using Youngman boards on the first floor of the property. As there was an unprotected stairwell opening in the property, one end of the Youngman boards was unsupported.

While leaning over to point up the blocks in the gable walls, the worker lost his balance before falling onto the unsupported Youngman boards and through the stairwell opening.

He fell four-and-a-half metres onto the concrete floor below, fracturing his skull and damaging his facial nerve. The man was hospitalised for three days following the incident.

The HSE’s investigation identified a series of failings on the part of the company, including a lack of suitable controls for preventing falls into the building and through the stairwell openings. There was also inadequate planning, a lack of selection of equipment for working at height, and inadequate site management arrangements.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. The company was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £4,139 in costs.

HSE inspector, David Brassington, said:

“This incident could and should have been easily avoided. Work at height needs to be properly planned and managed to ensure that appropriate precautions are used.”

July 2023

Our Comment

This case proves again that this type of accident is completely avoidable if the long established hierarchy of controls had been implemented by conducting a comprehensive working at height risk assessment.

Large fine for attempted illegal asbestos waste disposal

A man has been found guilty of illegally dumping waste on land in Shardlow in December 2021.

The individual was convicted at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates Court of the offence of depositing controlled waste on land without an environmental permit. He received a fine of £2,300, was ordered to pay a £190 victim surcharge plus £2971.36 prosecution costs, a total fine of £5,461.36.

Council officers were alerted to the incident after a complaint. When officers visited the site, they found that broken sections of roofing and guttering had been put into an excavated hole within the grounds of Shardlow Hall. Officers suspected that the material could contain asbestos and so they took samples for later analysis.

When they returned the following day, they found that the material had been partially covered in soil, which led them to believe that this was an attempt to illegally bury the waste.

Analysis of the waste confirmed that it did contain asbestos. It therefore needed to be handled with care and disposed of at a suitable waste disposal site to prevent a risk to human health and the environment.

Under caution, the individual claimed that he was just storing the waste in the excavated hole before disposing of it at a suitable waste disposal site.

Councillor Stephen Taylor, Chair of the Environment and Development Service Committee said: “The Council has remained focused on stopping waste crime for the last four years. Illegal disposal of waste creates a potentially toxic legacy for our children and causes a blight on our countryside.

“The case demonstrates that Council and its officers are totally committed to stamping this out. If Council officers hadn’t acted quickly to gather evidence, then this material would have been buried without any records or safeguards. The result would have been a legacy of buried waste which could have posed a risk to anyone in the future who unwittingly unearthed it.

“Once again it shows how important it is for anybody who disposes of waste to make sure that it’s being handled by a legitimate waste disposal contractor. All businesses disposing of waste have a duty of care to do so through contractors who have a Waste Carriers Licence and to a disposal site which is suitably authorised.”

South Derbyshire District Council
July 2023

Our Comment

Illegal dumping of asbestos is a serious environmental and public health concern and frequently occurs when individuals or businesses avoid the costs and requirements of proper disposal, attempting to dispose of it inappropriately, such as construction sites, or even residential areas.

Authorities and environmental agencies often work together to investigate and crack down on illegal dumping activities. Members of the public can also play a vital role in preventing and reporting illegal dumping incidents to the appropriate authorities, helping to protect the environment and public health.


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This content has been produced in association with our sister company, Barbour.

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