Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that HSE visited the Peter Lind and Co (Central Region) Limited project on Queen Street on 23 January this year.
Concerns were first raised about safety standards at the site, where two five-storey regency houses were being extensively over-hauled, by an anonymous complainant in December 2013.
When a HSE inspector visited eight weeks later he uncovered a catalogue of issues, including:
- Missing or inadequate edge protection in several locations – exposing workers to potential falls of between three and eight metres.
- Unsafe temporary ladders in place of a staircase that been removed.
- Missing toe boards and other edge protection on several tower scaffolds.
- Materials and equipment, including a heavy fire extinguisher, were left on edges where it was liable to fall and cause injury.
The failings mirrored those raised by the original complainant, meaning nothing had changed in the intervening period to protect workers.
HSE immediately served a Prohibition Notice requiring urgent improvements in relation to work at height. Two improvement notices were also served that needed action.
The court was told that although nobody was injured at the site, the potential for a serious or potentially fatal fall was very real.
HSE concluded that the work at height was poorly assessed, managed and monitored, and fell well short of the required legal standards.
Magistrates heard that HSE inspectors had also identified concerns at three other sites managed by the company in 2012 and 2013, and that in each instance enforcement notices or written warnings had to be served.
Peter Lind and Co (Central Region) Limited was fined a total of £11,500 and ordered to pay £1,369 in costs after pleading guilty to two safety breaches.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew Verrall-Withers said: “We uncovered an almost systematic failing in regards to work at height at the Mayfair site, and the extent of the risk this created was substantial.
“There were numerous examples where falls could have occurred, and the consequences could have been devastating.
“Peter Lind and Co is guilty of failing to pay enough attention to performance at the site. There were numerous issues that could and should have been identified and immediately addressed.”