Company fined after member of public alerts HSE
While many firms may dread the knock at the door from the HSE it seems rogue companies should also fear eagle-eyed members of the public, following a spate of cases in which the HSE was alerted to poor on site health and safety practices by a concerned passerby.
For example, a Willenhall refurbishment and shop fitting company has been fined for safety failings after instructing two employees to work at height without any protective measures or relevant work at height training.
The men were working on the roof of a large furniture store in Bridgtown, Cannock, on 26 September 2011 for Fastrac Profiles Limited when they were spotted and photographed by a member of the public who was troubled by what he saw. The HSE then visited the Green Lane premises and found that the workers were not trained for the roof repairs they were undertaking.
Stafford Magistrates' Court was told that they had been instructed to weld steel to uprights at the apex of a roof. The work was poorly planned and no risk assessment had been carried out. HSE inspectors also found that no fall-prevention measures, such as scaffolding, had been put in place.
Although the failings did not result in a fall or injury, the two employees, plus others working below them, were placed in unnecessary danger. The company was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £3,761 in costs.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Alastair Choudhury said:"Falls from height are a significant cause of fatalities and serious injuries. The risks involved with work at height are entirely foreseeable, and it is essential that proper planning, assessment and training is undertaken to reduce these risks.
"Those who neglect to do this, like Fastrac Profiles Limited, and who don't provide a safe system of work put workers at serious risk. They are clearly failing to comply with the required standard.
"I would like to thank the member of the public who brought this to our attention because the situation had the potential to lead to serious or fatal injuries for both men."