after a worker died following a fall from height at a Swansea building site.
The circumstances were:
- The deceased was contracted by Febrey Ltd to work as a scaffolder at the site in Swansea.
- He was dismantling a scaffold ladder access platform ahead of the installation of a roof and staircase on the fourth floor when he fell around 19 metres to the ground, narrowly missing a carpenter working directly below.
The HSE found that
- Febrey Ltd had inadequate and ineffective health and safety management arrangements
- There was little or no communication, information and instruction provided to its workforce.
- The management team on site was not adequately trained in health and safety, despite repeated warnings by its health and safety consultants. This led to persistent and systematic failures to control risks at the site.
- Mr Febrey was aware of the failings within his company - his workforce had raised concerns about the site – yet he failed to take responsibility for the company’s failings which allowed this culture to continue.
- Carillion Construction Ltd failed to ensure the safety of its employees and those under its control.
- Carillion, as principal contractor at the site, was made aware of and had detected many failings in the safety management of Febrey Ltd. However, it failed to gain improvement from the company.
Carillion Construction Ltd, was fined £182,500 (inc.costs)
Febrey Ltd, of Burcott Road, Bristol, which when into liquidation shortly after the incident fined a token amount of £85, which - had it still been solvent and able to pay - would have been in the region of £250,000.
The HSE Inspector said:
"Febrey Ltd did not manage health and safety. I can only echo the sentencing remarks made by Judge Thomas, that: ‘…there was a lack of proper and adequate expertise, training and direct responsibility for matters of health and safety. The personnel, the time, the resources and the will were all lacking to address the reoccurring problems of people working unsafely at height as necessary. Disregard for basic safety measures were left unchallenged. No one took ownership of the issue. In such an atmosphere, not only the inexperienced and the vulnerable, but the experienced like Mr Samuel, can become sloppy and complacent. It was against that background and in that culture that the accident happened. This culture was allowed to continue without proper managerial intervention and for that reason Mr Febrey, as the managing director, must bear a portion of direct responsibility. There was a void in the company’s organisation, which Mr Febrey must have recognised, but did not rectify. Carillion Ltd. had a duty to plan, manage and monitor the work. Febrey’s failing were all too apparent, moreover Carillion were aware of it. Judge Thomas said: ‘Ultimately, what they did not do was stop it - they did not do enough, they did not achieve the desired necessary result. Nagging and warning are one thing- positive, effective action is another. Carillion should have taken robust steps to remedy a situation which they were perfectly aware of.’ Falls from height are still the biggest killer in the construction industry and this is the tragic reality of what can happen when adequate arrangements are not in place to manage health and safety. Mr Samuel was a young man who had a lot to live for. His children and family will have to live with his loss for the rest of their lives. It is heartbreaking that his untimely death could so easily have been prevented."
Source: HSE 13 May 2013