Client failed to carry PC responsibilities effectively on own site

GW Padley Poultry Ltd has been prosecuted alongside and four of its contractors after HSE inspectors witnessed unsafe working at height while building a poultry shed at the companys’ Lincolnshire site in March 2012.

The company was the principal contractor but had no representatives on site. The buildings were supplied by Harlow Bros Ltd of Loughborough, who sub-contracted the erection of the buildings to K & M Tomlinson Ltd, and Philip Bates.

Lincoln Crown Court heard (24 July) that HSE visited the site on 13 March 2012 and found four workers on the roof with no edge protection or scaffolding in place. The height of the gable roof was some 6m from the ground.

To exit the roof the workmen had to walk 10m along the sloping roof and down an unsecured ladder. A Prohibition Notice was issued stopping further work on the roof until suitable edge protection was put in place.

Companies continued to work unsafely

When the inspector revisited three days later, work on the roof had been completed. A tower scaffold was at one end of the eaves and 12 fall arrest ‘airbags’ were on the floor at the other end of the building. There was still no edge protection.

The inspector returned later the same day with a colleague and found workers, including Philip Bates, on the roofs of two sheds. The scaffold tower seen earlier had been dismantled.

The ‘airbags’ were loose and anyone falling would have hit the ground. Faults were also found with a forklift truck being used in conjunction with work platform fitted to its prongs. A second Prohibition Notice was served and further enforcement notices to prevent all work on sloping roofs until adequate edge protection and internal fall protection was provided. An Improvement Notice was served on the poultry firm requiring them to appoint a competent site manager.

Harlow Brothers put in place a lifeline and harness system for safe working at height, but this was found to be inadequate on inspection and a further Improvement Notice was served.

Clear duties repeatedly ignored
  • GW Padley Poultry Ltd of Nottingham, pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 22(1)(a) and regulation 22(1)(c) of the Construction (Design and Management ) Regulations 2007 and was fined £9,000 and ordered to pay £15,000 costs.
  • Harlow Brothers Ltd of Loughborough pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 on two separate occasions, the 13 and the 16 March 2012 and Section 4(2) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £15,000 costs.
  • K&M Tomlinson Ltd of Long Eaton, pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Section 5(1)(a) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, and was fined £1,000.
  • Kenneth Tomlinson of Long Eaton, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) by virtue of section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £3,000 costs.
  • Philip Bates of Leasingham pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £4,500 and ordered to pay £5,550 costs.

The court heard that Harlow Brothers Ltd and Philip Bates have previous convictions for work on poultry house roofs without edge protection.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Martin Waring said:

“In this case there was clear evidence of a very poor attitude to health and safety generally on this site. Each of the defendants had clear duties to ensure the safety of the workers, however these were repeatedly ignored.

Working at height poses very obvious dangers but our visits uncovered a catalogue of safety breaches which could have had led to a fatal or very serious injury for a worker had they fallen.

There was a continued and deliberate neglect of duties by particular parties in this case; and directors who disregard their responsibilities will be held personally accountable.”

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