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Cheshire builder fined for multiple safety failings (22 September 2015)

Date: 22/09/2015
Duncan Lewis, Legal News Solicitors, Cheshire builder fined for multiple safety failings

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has successfully prosecuted a Cheshire-based builder over multiple health and safety failings on a building site in Altrincham.

Builder Peter Lawrence was in charge of building works at the former Ernill Butchers shop on Kingsway in Altrincham, where he was converting the shop into three flats. Mr Lawrence now lives in one of the flats, with another owned by his business partner.

The development involved stripping out the building and refurbishing the ground floor shop and two upper floors to convert them into three apartments.

Mr Lawrence – a former teacher – was in control of all construction works, as well as acting as the builder and project manager. He employed several different trades on the site throughout the refurbishment.

The development first came to HSE’s attention in November 2013, following a complaint about possible asbestos disturbance on site. Between November 2013 and April 2014, HSE inspectors visited the site to investigate safety concerns and deal with the risks presented by Mr Lawrence’s work.

HSE inspectors identified a number of issues – including unsafe work at height, unsafe scaffolding, issues relating to asbestos, fire safety failings, unsafe electrical supply, and a lack of welfare facilities and safety equipment.

Mr Lawrence was served with three Prohibition Notices and four Improvement Notices, along with two Notifications of Contravention during three site visits over a six-month period.

Some of the issues had been satisfactorily dealt with by Mr Lawrence following HSE’s intervention – but he had failed to comply with two Improvement Notices regarding fire safety on site.

He was charged with two counts of failing to comply with an Improvement Notice, one count of failing to provide adequate fire fighting and fire alarm equipment on site – and one count of failing to plan, manage and monitor construction work so that it was carried out in a safe manner.

On Friday, 18 September 2015 at Trafford Magistrates’ Court, Peter Lawrence of Kingsway, Altrincham pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 13(2) and 41(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and two breaches of Section 33(1)(g) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

He was fined £8,000 with £4,802 costs and a victim surcharge of £120.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Matt Greenly said:

“Mr Lawrence completely failed in his duty to protect his workers, his subcontractors and visitors to his site from harm.

“Enforcement Notices are served by Inspectors where there is a serious risk which needs to be better managed – in this case, fire safety.

“By Mr Lawrence repeatedly ignoring these Notices, he has undoubtedly put the lives of his own workers and subcontractors at risk from fire – as well as the lives of his neighbours and passers-by.

“Given the range of serious breaches identified over a very short period of time – and on a relatively small construction project – it is very fortunate that nobody was injured, or even killed, while working on this site.

“I’d therefore like to thank the member of the public who initially alerted us to the work – and may well have prevented a serious injury.”

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