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Builder fined for failing to ensure safety of employee

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Builder fined for failing to ensure safety of employee

While we often hear about large corporations and building firms failing in their duty of care to keep their staff safe, it is much rarer to hear of small businesses, with just one or two employees, failing to the same standard.

As a result, when we talk about the need for employers to carry out risk assessments and provide appropriate training, it’s easy to think we only mean larger-scale employers.

However, earlier this year a case was brought against a builder in North Yorkshire, by the Health and Safety Executive, for failing to ensure the safety of one of his employees.

Peter Wright, of PW Joinery and Building Services, had employed Derek Wensley as a self-employed labourer to assist with the construction of a two storey extension. Derek had been carrying a bucket of mortar up a step ladder to the first floor of the building when he fell. He sustained very serious head injuries, and sadly died as a result.

During the Health and Safety Executive’s investigation into the accident, the inspector found that the ladder Derek had been using at the time of the accident had been too short to properly reach the first floor and it had not been sufficiently secured.

The main point of the case, heard in Teesside Crown Court in September, was that if Mr Wright had carried out suitable and sufficient risk assessment, he would have known that the working method he expected Derek to use was unsafe. Without a risk assessment, Mr Wright had failed to identify the hazards associated with this method of access, and had therefore failed to plan and supervise the work at height properly. This led directly to Derek’s death.

Mr Wright was fined fined £10,000 with a further £19,000 to pay in costs, after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

“It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”

The importance of a thorough risk assessment in every working environment can not be overstated. Even as a self employed builder, you still have a duty to your staff to keep them safe whilst they are working for you.

Training courses are available from the team Health & Safety Training Ltd, to help employers of any size learn to identify potential hazards and protect against them. To find out more click here or call Health & Safety Training Ltd today on: 0191 6440 332.

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