The firms were prosecuted after an HSE inspector witnessed unsafe working at height during the construction of a poultry shed at GW Padley Poultry Ltd’s site in Wigtoft, Lincolnshire, in March 2012.
While the poultry firm was the principal contractor, it had no representatives on site. The poultry buildings were supplied by Harlow Bros Ltd of Loughborough, which sub-contracted the construction work to K&M Tomlinson Ltd, and Philip Bates.
Lincoln Crown Court heard last week (24 July) an HSE inspector recorded four workers on the roof of the new building at a height of about 6m, operating without edge protection or scaffolding.
Asked to come down, the workers had to walk about 10m along a sloping roof and down an unsecured ladder. The inspector issued Kenneth Tomlinson, director of K & M Tomlinson, with a prohibition notice, stopping further work on the roof until edge protection has been installed.
Returning to the site three days later, the inspector found the roof work had been completed. While a tower scaffold had been fitted at one end of the eaves and 12 airbags were on the floor at the other end of the building, no edge protection had been provided.
No edge protection
Later that day the inspector discovered workers, including Bates, on the roofs of two sheds. The scaffold tower had been dismantled.
Also the airbags used for cushioning a fall were loose and anyone falling would have hit the ground, said the HSE. Faults were also found with a forklift truck fitted with a work platform. A second prohibition notice was served, preventing further work on the shed roofs.
More enforcement notices were issued to GW Padley Poultry, Harlow Brothers and Bates to prevent all work on sloping roofs until edge protection and internal fall protection was provided. The poultry firm also received an improvement notice requiring the appointment of a competent site manager.
Although Harlow Brothers had put in place a lifeline and harness system for safe working at height, this was found to be inadequate and a further improvement notice was served.
The court was told Harlow Brothers Ltd and Bates had previous convictions for work on poultry house roofs without edge protection.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Martin Waring said: “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 led to a fatal or very serious injury for a worker had they fallen.”
‘Neglect of duties’
Waring warned of “continued and deliberate neglect of duties” in this case. Directors who disregarded their responsibilities will be held personally accountable, he added.
GW Padley Poultry Ltd of Mount Street, 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 Long Whatton, Loughborough, Leicestershire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 on two separate occasions, March 13 and the 16 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 Nottingham Road, 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 College Street, 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 The Square, Leasingham, Lincolnshire, 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.
HSE advice on working at height is available here.