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Lack of fall protection lands construction business in court with hefty fine

Lack of fall protection lands construction business in court with hefty fine

26 March 2012 Email this article

An Edgware-based construction company and its director have been fined after carrying out demolition and construction work without fall protection and other safety measures at a house in Surrey.

?The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Laxmi Developments Ltd and its director, Vijay Madhaparia, of Tavistock Road, Edgware, for failing to comply with a Prohibition Notice (PN), failing to provide adequate safety protection for employees and failing to carry out an asbestos survey on a property before demolition.

Redhill Magistrates' Court heard that during a visit to a building site at Mellow Close, Banstead, on 23 June 2011, an HSE inspector was confronted with such poor standards, he consequently served a PN and three Improvement Notices on the firm.

The PN was issued as the inspector found workers knocking down the house at first floor level with no edge protection to prevent falls. Though aware of the requirement for scaffolding and edge protection, Mr Madhaparia had instructed workers to go ahead with the demolition without these measures in place.

The three Improvement Notices were served to ensure sufficient demolition planning was carried out, to improve the welfare facilities on the site and to ensure the site supervisor was competent to carry out the works.

However, on the 6 September 2011, photographs were sent to HSE showing the PN being contravened and the same poor demolition practices continuing on site. HSE telephoned Mr Madhaparia to discuss the previous PN and to remind him of the dangers of working at height.

An HSE inspector visited the site again on 3 October 2011 and standards at the site were again found to be very poor. Two further PNs were issued for the risk of a fall from height and unsafe electrics on the site. After this visit, HSE was made aware that workers were continuing to work from height with no protection.

The court was told that in addition to the earlier offences, Mr Madhaparia had also failed to produce an asbestos survey prior to the demolition, despite HSE inspectors having requested one. This clear breach of asbestos regulations was aggravated because the site is in a residential area and next to a school. It was also discovered that much of the waste was burnt, potentially increasing the dispersal range of any asbestos fibres.

HSE's inspector Russell Beckett said:

"The disregard for health and safety shown by Vijay Madhaparia and his company was shocking. This man exposed workers and the site's neighbours - including young children - to appalling risks and the management of health and safety was non-existent even at the most basic level.

"There was a complete disregard for the safety of both workers and the public. Even after a Prohibition Notice had been served at the site workers were instructed to continue to work in exactly the same way.

"For anyone to conduct themselves or their business in this way is completely unacceptable and HSE will have no hesitation in bringing perpetrators before the courts."

Laxmi Developments Ltd, of Tavistock Road, Edgware, London, pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) and section 33(1)(g) of the Health and Safety etc at Work Act 1974 and Regulation 5 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. The firm was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay the full costs of £11,930.

Vijay Madhaparia, of Tavistock Road, Edgware, London, pleaded guilty to breaching section 37(1) of the Health and Safety etc. at Work Act by virtue of breaching section 33(1)(g) of the Health and Safety etc. at Work Act 1974 and Regulation 5 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act. He was fined £1,500 and disqualified from acting as a company director for three years.