Properly managing work from heights on a construction site is vital to proper site safety management. A recent incident which took place on a British construction site highlights the danger of ignoring proper work from height practices on construction sites. A developer was spotted by an inspector who was passing by the site on train ignoring proper work from height practices and endangering the workers involved.
The developer had to appear in court, not once but twice after workers on his work site were spotted engaging in dangerous work from a height in London.
A health and safety inspector spotted the dangerous practices while travelling past the work site on a train carriage. Following closer inspection, the authorities determined that work was taking place on a roof, three storeys high without any precautions to prevent falling or control fall hazards.
The developer who was also the principal contractor and construction manager for the site was subsequently prosecuted and ordered to pay fines.
The court later heard that Mr Ross part owned the site in question and was overseeing a project to replace former shops with a mixed use complex.
According to a post about the incident on PPConstructionSafety.com the health and safety inspector spotted the unsafe work from height practices on 19 August 2013 and issued a Prohibition Notice to prevent further dangerous work however later that year in October 2013 the inspector again spotted the dangerous practices on the site. The inspector then issued 2 additional notices and legal proceedings.
The court heard that the workers’ risks of falling were significant and the appointed principal contractor and person in control of the work was also the one in charge of implementing sufficient safety measures.
The following excerpt from the post on PPConstructionSafety.com explains more about the incident:
Peter Alexander Ross, of Beaufort Close, Lynden Gate, SW15, was fined a total of £16,000 and ordered to pay a further £1,200 in costs after pleading guilty to single breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.
Following the hearing the health and safety inspector involved reminded people of the need to ensure safety if they are going to appoint themselves principal contractor on their development projects.
What shocked the courts and the inspector even more was the developer/ contractors failure to correct his safety mistakes the first time even after receiving a warning – he continued to jeopardise worker safety and allow dangerous work from height practices.
The developer, as well as workers on the site, was extremely lucky that none of them were injured. If people are going to appoint themselves principal contractor on a job they must make sure they understand what this role entails and the responsibilities it carries in terms of safety.
The post went on to explain:
“Peter Ross was the client for the project and appointed himself as the principal contractor. As such the onus was on him to ensure effective safe working methods and procedures were in place.
The work at height activity we witnessed was inherently unsafe, and the fact we twice had to stop work at the site just weeks apart is shocking. As a dutyholder he failed to learn, and he clearly wasn’t up to standard.
Principal contractors must ensure they devote adequate resources to planning, managing and monitoring work. If they do not have sufficient expertise themselves in project and site management, and adequate health and safety knowledge, they must ensure they have competent sources of advice and support.