Who is at risk from health and safety breaches?

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There are so many reasons why company bosses and managers should take health and safety seriously.

It goes without saying the main reason is to protect people from harm. No one wants a health and safety oversight to lead to someone being injured or killed.

Another key reason is that health and safety breaches can potentially put firms out of business. Organisations which are successfully prosecuted for breaches may face huge court costs and fines and on top of that the associated publicity can do terrible damage to a firm’s reputation.

What people often forget as they go about their day-to-day jobs is that they themselves might also be personally punished if they are found to be responsible for a health and safety breach.

Many organisations have strict internal policies and an employee who breaches health and safety rules may end up without a job.

Company bosses and managers may also find themselves facing heavy fines and even custodial sentences if they fail to adhere to health and safety law.

To show an example of this we’d like to share with you the details of a case which was recently heard at Newcastle-upon-Tyne Magistrates’ Court.

In this particular case, a construction company director was fined for leaving a gas boiler at a domestic property in a dangerous condition as he worked to build an extension.

During the building work, the residents of the property in Newcastle were placed at a serious risk of ill health, including carbon monoxide poisoning.

The court heard that commencing in April 2018, construction work was carried out at a domestic property on Lichfield Avenue, which affected the safe working condition of the gas boiler and flue at the property. The family of three, a mother and her two children, remained living in the house while the extension was built.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found David Coulson, director of Coulson Constructions North East Ltd, did not make the gas system in the house safe before or during the construction work, allowing the fumes and poisonous gases from the boiler to flow into the extended house. He was not Gas Safe registered.

David Coulson of Gofton Walk, Newcastle upon Tyne, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 and Section 20 (2)(j) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment suspended for 24 months, given 250 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of £5,200

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Paul Wilson, said: “Construction work can and must be planned properly to ensure the health and safety of those potentially affected throughout the building project.

“Any work on a gas system, including the boiler in our houses, must always be carried out by competent gas engineers, namely those accredited with Gas Safe Registration. Not to do so is both illegal and potentially very dangerous.

“To check if a person is Gas Safe Registered visit the Gas Safe Registered website.”

Construction sites can be extremely hazardous places if health and safety rules are not adhered to. At Acorn Safety Services our experienced team of Construction Health and Safety Consultants can provide inspections and audits for all types of construction sites across the UK to help keep workers, visitors and residents safe.

We have worked on projects across all sectors, including education, residential, aviation, rail, commercial, retail, healthcare and leisure and have extensive experience of all forms of contract arrangements including PFI, Design & Build and Construction Management.

Our experience extends to working on new builds, refurbishments, demolitions and fit-outs, including works on heritage buildings. So, you can be confident we have the expertise, knowledge and experience to assist you whatever your project is, big or small.

If you need help identifying and managing health and safety requirements on a construction project visit https://acornhealthandsafety.co.uk/ today or contact us at info@acornhealthandsafety.co.uk or on 01604 930380.

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