Site workers forced to wash with cold water and a bucket

Grant Prior 11 months ago
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A contractor carrying out refurbishment and basement extension work has been prosecuted for repeated safety breaches and substandard site welfare conditions.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that PVAD Limited was the contractor controlling work at a construction site on Montholme Road, SW11 when it was inspected by the HSE in March 2017.

The inspection found that numerous areas of the site had no edge protection to prevent falls, including where workers could fall four metres into the basement from the site entrance area.

Unsafe ‘homemade’ ramps were being used to allow access to some parts of the site.

It was also found that the welfare facilities fell far below the legally required standard, with the WC having no cistern to allow flushing and the washing arrangements on site consisting of a cold water outdoor tap and bucket, with no soap or towel.

A prohibition notice was served on PVAD Limited, but further inspections in April and May 2017 found new work at height issues that were so serious that all work had to be halted on both occasions until the site was made safe.

An improvement notice was also served requiring PVAD Limited concerning the inadequate welfare facilities. The company breached the notice as the improvements made were insufficient.

The HSE had previously inspected other PVAD Limited sites several times in 2015 and 2016.

As a result, the company had been served with three improvement notices relating to welfare facilities and two formal letters highlighting work at height risks and giving advice.

PVAD Limited of Hammersmith pleaded guilty to breaching safety regulations and was fined £51,334 and ordered to pay £1,525.50 in costs.

HSE inspector Adam Thompson commented after the hearing: “After the March 2017 inspection PVAD Limited were provided with clear written advice to help them make improvements.

“They failed to take note of this and continued to rely on a site manager with no formal health and safety training.

“On the three occasions the site was visited the workers were at such risk of falling that all work had to halt. It was just good fortune that no one was killed or seriously injured at the site”.

“The standards were particularly inexcusable as the company had received clear warnings in the past.

“It speaks volumes that, even after being issued with three welfare improvement notices at other sites, they provided their workers at the new site with a non-flushing WC and an outside cold water tap and a bucket as washing facilities”.

The Building Safety Group has reported an 8% rise in welfare breaches on construction sites following 10,000 independent inspections this year.

Chris Chapman, Head of CDM Services and Technical Support Manager for BSG said: “Having access to a toilet and washing facilities to remove any contamination after carrying out works such as groundworks and bricklaying on site is not a luxury; it is a basic human right.

“Workers need to feel that they are valued and their health and welfare is taken into consideration by their employer. The law states that welfare facilities need to be arranged on site before any work can begin.

“These facilities need to be considered during the planning stages and then maintained to a high standard throughout the entire lifespan of the project.

“These basic requirements are often neglected. A cold tap and nowhere to eat lunch are not adequate facilities.

“Facilities that meet the requirements and are well maintained can positively benefit the long-term health and well-being of workers.”

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