Public blow whistle on site safety horror show

Grant Prior 7 years ago
Share

Three construction bosses and two firms have been sentenced for a series of safety failures and poor welfare standards at a site in Upper Norwood.

HSE inspectors identified a catalogue of issues at land belonging to a former church on Chevening Road in October 2012 after receiving complaints from a neighbouring school and a member of the public.

Four flats and four homes were being built at the site by Unicorn Services Limited, run by director Yi Long Chen and principal shareholder Mou Qiang Chen, on behalf of Chalice Homes Limited, run by sole director Steven Mooney.

All five appeared at Southwark Crown Court after admitting breaching safety legislation and placing workers at unnecessary risk from injury or illness.

The court heard that failings at the site included:

  • A mini digger and dumper, both of which were poorly maintained, were left with the keys in the ignition free for anyone to use – despite the fact no-one at the site was trained or qualified to use them
  • There was no traffic management system, with nothing in place to segregate people from moving machinery – a failing exaggerated by the fact the site was next to a junior school
  • A raised storage area above a rest room was exposed and unguarded – meaning heavy items could have fallen onto workers below, as could anyone who accessed the area
  • The site manager was unqualified and could not speak English – so he was unable to communicate with site visitors or delivery drivers and provide any necessary safety briefings
  • There was no hot water, no wash area or washing up facilities, and no heating – with the general hygiene and sanitation standards described as wholly inadequate
  • There were no safety records or method statements for any work activity

The court was told that the Chens and Mooney were well known to HSE after serious safety concerns were also noted at another site under their control.

In September 2011 HSE served eight Prohibition Notices to stop dangerous work at a site in nearby Sylvan Hill.

It resulted in Unicorn Services being prosecuted and Mooney, then the director of another standalone company set up for the development in question, receiving a written warning.

HSE told the court that despite this intervention, the poor safety and welfare standards at Chevening Road proved little had changed, and that it was indicative of a blasé attitude towards the well being of workers.

Mou Qiang Chen, of Thornton Heath, was fined a total of £2,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs after pleading guilty to two safety breaches.

Yi Long Chen, of Mitcham, was fined £1,000 after pleading guilty to a single breach.

Their company, Unicorn Services Limited, was fined a total of £9,000 for safety breaches.

Mooney, of a registered address on Croydon High Street, was fined £11,000 with £5,000 costs after pleading guilty to the same breaches as Mou Qiang Chen.

Chalice Homes, which is no longer trading, was fined a nominal £200 for two further CDM Regs breaches.

All five parties accepted their respective charges on the first day of a trial last October after initially pleading not guilty when the case was first heard by Westminster Magistrates.

After sentencing HSE Inspector Andrew Verrall-Withers said: “Although nobody was harmed at the development site in question, the risks were clear – as evidenced by the fact that both the neighbouring school and a member of the public independently contacted HSE with their concerns.

“Given the long history of previous HSE enforcement and advice against the respective parties, the failure to protect workers, as well as others in the vicinity, was totally unacceptable.

“It is extremely disappointing that the defendants made the decision to plead not guilty, elect for a Crown Court trial and then cause numerous delays during the pre-trial procedures.

“The HSE case and weight of evidence was clear from the outset, and the attitude of only acknowledging any wrongdoing at the last possible moment – in this instance the first day of the trial – is telling.”

Latest news

Kier pulls off contracts league double in July

Contractor bags highest value of new work and tops rolling 12 months ranking
11 mins ago

Hinkley Point C giant water intakes craned onto seabed

Video: contractors complete one of the world’s most complex marine engineering projects
38 mins ago

Consultant buys scaffolding contractor

RSK Group makes MG Scaffolding its latest acquisition
49 mins ago

M&E specialist gears up for £16m Aston Martin package

Major package award on McLaren Silverstone site
36 mins ago

WSP to buy consultant RPS Group for £591m

5,000 staff at Oxfordshire based firm to join WSP
24 hours ago

Countryside puts offsite factory up for sale

Offers invited for Bardon plant which is less than a year old
23 hours ago

M&E specialist Spie UK arm returns to profit

French parent group launches a strategic review of UK operations after performance stabilises
1 day ago

Site boss fined for locking out safety inspectors

Police called to enter site before fire fighters rescue workers stranded on roof
1 day ago

Rebid starts for £200m M5 junction job

Cost inflation forces retender for £200m junction 10 rebuild near Cheltenham
23 hours ago

New Downing Construction boss named

Andy Thomas takes top job as Ian Orton steps back after 24 years
24 hours ago

Plans in for 600 homes at London Aylesbury estate

Notting Hill Genesis aims to start work next year on phase 2 of Southwark estate rebuild
1 day ago

Tide gets green light for UK’s tallest modular tower

Volumetric specialist to build 48-storey student skyscraper at Canary Wharf
3 days ago

TopHat cuts losses and aims for profit in three years

Modular specialist investing for future as latest results show £19.4m loss
2 days ago

Story Contracting names next chief executive

Andy Joy to be promoted to CEO as Jason Butterwork becomes vice chairman
2 days ago

Stalled £100m North London build-to-rent tower to start

Essential Living commits to start Swiss Cottage scheme six years after planning OK'd
2 days ago

Bidding starts for Pagabo £1bn medium works deal

Extra small project lot added in framework renewal
2 days ago

Vital funding deal for £50m A38 Midlands upgrade

Work could start early next year on A38 BREP now out to tender
2 days ago

Graham wins £16m National Railway Museum job

Firm seals pre-construction deal as new museum Central Hall gets planning green light
2 days ago

Demolition starts on half-built £48m Taylor Wimpey flats

Furious local residents blast house builder over "unbearable" noise
5 days ago

Civils contractor fined £600k after boy dies in drainage pipe

Workers find seven-year-old who suffocated on housing site
6 days ago

Plan for trio of towers at old Yorkshire Post site

Galliford Try advises on construction plan for Leeds student and build to rent towers
5 days ago

Insolvency to rival inflation as project cost threat

Inflationary pressures likely to peak this year before easing in 2023, but supply chain stress is growing.
5 days ago

B+K starts £300m Sheffield West Bar scheme

Funding deal triggers start on major mixed-use scheme
5 days ago

Willmott Dixon bags £44m Passivhaus leisure centre

Private builder prepares to start Staines-upon-Thames complex
5 days ago

Go-ahead for £160m Cambridge mixed-use scheme

Devonshire Gardens will consist of 70 private rental flats and 120,000 sq ft of offices
5 days ago

Construction buyers report first drop in output for 18 months

Civil engineering worst performing sector
6 days ago

Construction and infra margins hit 3.2% at Morgan Sindall

Contractor picking deals carefully as inflation continues to bite
6 days ago

Morrisroe Group revenue tops £200m

Pre-tax profit halves to £2.7m as cost inflation bites
6 days ago

Kier to start new £400m ‘smart’ prison this autumn

At least 50 ex-offenders will help build new HMP Full Sutton
7 days ago

Former P&R Morson staff to launch legal claim

Former staff of failed Midlands M&E specialist consult with lawyers following administration
6 days ago

Contractor services