Health & Safety Managment - Site Manager in the Dock

The outcome of a court case proves that those with management responsibilities need to take the role seriously. What happened and why did the manager in question receive a significant personal penalty?

A construction worker fell to his death from a poorly constructed scaffold. As a result the site manager received 240 hours’ community service and a £77,500 bill for costs. Those employed to run a site must have appropriate experience and qualifications, such as passing the Site Management Safety Training Scheme.

Fatal Fall

On 26 February 2010 Peter Tute (T), a construction manager, inspected scaffolding on a Skegness site and signed off the inspection record indicating that the equipment was safe. The scaffolding had been erected by bricklayer Justin Gillman (G) and his workmate at the request of T. He had asked them to do this despite the fact they lacked the required qualifications and experience.

The result?

The scaffold was incomplete with various defects including a missing guard rail. Later that day G fell backwards six feet to the ground. He was moving a 175kg load of bricks at the time of the fall and was killed when they landed on top of him.

Note. Scaffolding construction and alteration is a job for specialist workers only. It’s never acceptable to allow others to carry out this type of work.

In court

Both Chestnut Homes Ltd and its site manager pleaded guilty to breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.The Company was fined £40,000 and T was ordered to carry out 240 hours of community service. This was a fairly harsh sentence for an individual but there was more to come. Cost contributions were determined at a separate hearing at Lincoln Crown Court where it was decided that the HSE’s costs ought to be shared equally between the construction firm and its manager. This meant that each party would pay £77,500. The judge gave them 28 days to pay.

Note. It’s interesting to note that despite the manager being held to account in this case, the construction firm was also fined.

Personal duties

As this case shows, if you are in a position of responsibility and should be aware of the regulations, you could well be on the receiving end of harsh personal penalties if someone is killed. Other situations we see regularly are: (1) convictions for manslaughter; (2) individuals being barred from acting as a company director; and (3) prison sentences. Statistics revealed last year show that the number of prosecutions of directors and senior managers has increased fourfold in a five-year period.

Note. Managers and directors should do their best to manage health and safety effectively. It’s the ones who behave recklessly that usually end up in court.

Training

This case proves that running a construction site requires not only practical knowledge but also a good understanding of health and safety legislation.

Tip. Ideally, anyone running a site should have passed a course such as the Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) (see The next step). This should stop corners from being cut and help reduce risks to staff.

The Next Step

For further information on the SMSTS course, visit http://tipsandadvice-healthandsafety.co.uk/download (HS D 13.04.07)

For the full article, please click here...