Employment Lawyers: Employers And Health And Safety At Work

Director Given Community Service After Construction Worker Dies

A company director has been given 100 hours’ Community Service and ordered to pay £6,000 costs, following the death of a construction worker.

Norman Ellis, director of Q Homes (Yorkshire) Ltd., pleaded guilty to a charge under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 that the company had failed to discharge its duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of an employee, Andrew Bridges.

Mr Ellis and Mr Bridges were demolishing a 2.5 tonne reinforced concrete roof when the structure collapsed, crushing Mr Bridges. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Inspector investigating the case called it ‘a tragic accident, made worse by the fact that it could have easily been prevented had the work been properly planned’.

The Court found that the way in which the work was carried out represented very serious failings on the part of Mr Ellis, who was responsible for planning and carrying out the work. In its view, the offence was sufficiently serious to warrant imposing a Community Order.

HSE statistics show that 2.2 million people work in Britain’s construction industry, making it the country’s biggest industry. It is also one of the most dangerous. Last year, there were 77 deaths – 32 per cent of worker fatalities in British industries. Many of these accidents could have been prevented had proper risk assessments been carried out and the work been planned accordingly. The HSE stresses that it will take enforcement action against those who fail to carry out their legal responsibilities with regard to health and safety at work.

For further information on health and safety in the construction industry, see http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/conindex.htm.

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 is due to come into force on 6 April 2008. This will create an offence of corporate manslaughter and will allow organisations to be prosecuted for management failures that lead to the deaths of employees and others.

Pinder Reaux & Associates


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