Wates fined £640,000 for carbon monoxide blunder

Grant Prior 8 months ago
Share

Wates and one of its subcontractors have been sentenced after a project to remove cowls to redundant flue pipes resulted in carbon monoxide (CO) entering a residential tower.

Cambridge Crown Court heard how, on 19 December 2014, a mistake regarding the correct floor level resulted in a live flue being blocked.

Scaffolding was erected outside a 13-storey block of flats without marked lift levels and the external wall of the building had no markings to identify floor levels or flat numbers.

Operatives from subcontractor R J Fitters were given a diagram marked with the redundant flues and were expected to find the redundant flues amongst live flues.

The problem was only identified when a CO monitor activated and the homeowner and her son investigated. The damaged boiler was switched off before potentially any serious ill-health could occur.

An HSE investigation found that main contractor Wates and R J Fitters Ltd failed to manage the risk involved with the project.


Inspectors found that they could have marked the levels on the scaffold and the levels/flat numbers on the external wall of the building.

A supervisor could have marked the redundant flue pipes to ensure the correct cowls were removed and flue pipes blocked up.

The companies could have instead of blocking the redundant flue pipes put a cage around the cowls to ensure they did not fall.

Wates guilty to a safety breach and was fined £640,000 and ordered to pay costs of £20,862.52.

R J Fitters Ltd also pleaded guilty and was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,431.28

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Sandra Dias said: “It is the responsibility of both the principal contractor and subcontractor to ensure that safe systems of work have been identified and adopted.

“When there is risk of death to members of the public, the safe systems should be well thought through and robust.

“The risks associated with blocking a live flue could result in carbon monoxide entering properties and potentially killing all occupants”.

A Wates spokesperson said: “We very much regret this incident.  Safety is our highest priority and we are committed to ensuring that no individual is ever harmed or put at risk as a result of our work.

“We fully support all efforts by the HSE to make construction sites a safer place to work, and we have co-operated fully with the HSE’s investigation into this incident.

“On this occasion, however, despite our best efforts, we accept we fell short of the required standard.

“We immediately reviewed and enhanced our existing controls to help prevent a reoccurrence, and we remain committed to achieving the highest standard of health and safety moving forward.

“As part of our ‘We’re Safer Together’ Zero Harm campaign launched in 2016, we strive to achieve a working environment free from incident, ensuring that health and safety remains uppermost in the minds of both our employees and sub-contractors.”

Latest news

Brighton Uni starts bid race for £20m academic building

Six floor building will be located next to the Preston barracks redevelopment site
39 mins ago

Gary Neville £200m Manchester tower gets the final nod

39-storey Deansgate skyscraper complex will be home to a 5-star hotel, luxury flats and offices
22 hours ago

Thames Tideway TBMs placed for big drive

Tunnelling to start later this year on 12km central section - picture special
21 hours ago

Contractor fined over unsafe fleet of cherry pickers

HSE investigation finds lack of maintenance regime
15 hours ago

Network Rail bans retentions to support supply chain

CP6 overhaul sees switch to project bank accounts with Tier 1 firms told to pay in 28 days
2 days ago

ISG clinches £34m Twickenham campus scheme

Firm to deliver 160,000 sq ft teaching block for Richmond upon Thames College
22 hours ago

HB Reavis raids Argent for major Waterloo scheme boss

Joe Martin joins as UK construction director for 1m sq ft Elizabeth House job
2 days ago

Scotland to require sprinklers in all new social housing

Sprinklers to be compulsory in all social housing of over 10 people
2 days ago

Perfect Circle wins £300m Bristol Uni campus

AECOM, Gleeds and Pick Everard JV signed up for Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus
2 days ago

Single alliance plan for all smart motorways work

Highways England floats radical alliancing plan using three main contractors
2 days ago

Berkeley Group warns profits to drop 30% next year

London house builder's profit hits high water mark of £935m
2 days ago

Boost your online presence – join the new Enquirer Directory

New site for suppliers and buyers will showcase their products, services and latest stories
2 months ago

£400m north west small projects framework launched

Procure North West (Lite) framework to cover projects up to £1m and M&E work
2 days ago

More than half of construction workers in London from EU

Brexit alarm over Capital's reliance on foreign labour
2 days ago

Severfield margins restored to 8% target

Steelwork contractor's profit rises by nearly 20% to £23.5m
2 days ago

Galliford Try bags £45m Leeds Beckett sports research hub

Demolition to start next month at the Headingley campus
2 days ago

Mears to help homeless in £75m housing deal

Contractor to buy and refurb 365 homes in Waltham Forest
2 days ago

Sellafield teams cut budget overruns in half

Sellafield clean-up facing £900m overspend despite improved delivery
2 days ago

Network Rail starts race for £5bn trio of trackwork deals

The 10-year alliance deals will be let to designer/contractor JVs
3 days ago

Multiplex bags £400m New Scotland Yard redevelopment

Multiplex to start six-tower Westminster Broadway scheme in January
3 days ago

Kier defends fire safety strategy after Glasgow blaze

Contractors had agreed safeguards in place as repair estimates hit £100m
3 days ago

McCarthy & Stone boss to step down after profit warning

Retirement home builder to streamline after poor spring sales
3 days ago

Capita sells Constructionline to private equity giant

Procurement and supply chain specialist sold for £160m
3 days ago

McLaren lands new HQ for consultant Dar Group

John F Hunt to start demolition work in August to make way for new nine-storey scheme
4 days ago

Countryside strikes deal for 5,000 private rental homes

Deal with family private rental specialist allows Countryside to expand its partnerships business
3 days ago

Balfour Beatty fined £500,000 for white finger exposure

Court hears how workers were exposed to hand-arm vibration risk for nine years
4 days ago

On-site training boost to ease skills shortages

New £22m Construction Skills Fund now open for applications
4 days ago

Chandler promoted to Wates board

Wates MD, Paul Chandler, ushers in nearly £3bn of new business
4 days ago

Legal firm moves into cost consultancy

Blake Morgan hires former Aecom director to head project management and cost consultancy
4 days ago

Fire destroys Kier restoration of Glasgow School of Art

Second major blaze in four years reduces £35m of repair work to ashes
6 days ago

Contractor services