According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), “Anyone engaging contractors has health and safety responsibilities, both for the contractors and anyone else that could be affected by their activities.”

This article shows how a Principal Contractor can be prosecuted for the failings on Health & Safety of any of the contractors on the job plus the supplier that provided staff or equipment.

Two construction companies have been sentenced following an incident were a working platform failed and a bricklayer using the platform was injured.

Durham Crown Court heard how, on 1 July 2019, Dere Street Homes Limited were acting as principal contractor and provided components for a proprietary polypropylene working platform at a new build at Marley Fields, Wheatley Hill, County Durham. SGS Construction & Design Limited were acting as a contractor and supplied workers to erect the working platform.

Failed Working Platform

An investigation by HSE found that several components were missing from the working platform; in addition, the worker who erected the failed platform had not received adequate training. The signing off as a safe working platform procedure had not been completed since the manager previously undertaking this had left the company.

Dere Street Homes Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations and was fined £38,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,367.30.

SGS Construction & Design Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 15(2) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations and was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,683.60.

The HSE commented after the hearing: “Those in control of work have a responsibility to ensure that workers are adequately trained, properly supervised, and work activities are appropriately monitored.” (Source: Health & Safety Executive)

Health & Safety Learning Points

  • This is a warning to all Principal Contractors and a suggestion that thorough due diligence is undertaken on all sub-contractors to provide evidence of worker competence, training, method statements and risk assessments.
  • All equipment that is used to either safeguard workers, or for restraint, load bearing or working at height must be signed off as safe before use.
  • Whatever Industry you are in please consult industry guidance about what deems you competent to undertake the task and the role you are performing.
  • You should seek training, assessment and certification from a nationally approved awarding body and always make sure your training and competency is up to date.
  • Ultimately this health and safety failing could have led to a fatal accident; and if this were the case you would not be insured if found negligent and could also be struck off or barred from the specific Industry you are working in.
  • Always consider looking at HSE guidance as well.

Health and Safety Support

HR Solutions’ Health, Safety and Environment division, called HSE Solutions, provides you with access to a Competent Person to help de-risk your working environment from accidents. To find out more about how our HSE Solutions service can help your business, visit www.hrsolutions-uk.com/health-and-safety or call us on 0844 324 5840.

For information on our Health and Safety training courses visit www.hrsolutions-uk.com/training-courses.