The director of a concrete structures firm has been ordered to pay a total of £25,000 in fines and costs after a worker died following a fall from height at a Swansea building site.
Carillion Construction Ltd, Febrey Ltd and director Michael Febrey, were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at the Meridian Quay apartment development on 22 January 2008. Carillion and Febrey were fined on 23 November, 2012 and sentencing against Mr Febrey was adjourned until today’s hearing.
Self-employed father of two Russell Samuel, from Porth, was contracted by Febrey Ltd to work as a scaffolder at the site.
Swansea Crown Court heard today (13 May 2013) that 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.
Mr Samuel, 40, suffered multiple injuries, including a fractured skull. He was taken to Morriston Hospital but died two days later.
An HSE investigation found Febrey Ltd had inadequate and ineffective health and safety management arrangements and 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. The company, 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.
Michael Febrey of 3a Rockleaze Road, Bristol pleaded guilty to breaching two counts of Section 37(1) of the same legislation. He was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs.
Carillion Construction Ltd of Construction House, Birch Street, Wolverhampton, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £130,000 and ordered to pay £52,500 in costs in the earlier hearing.
Febrey Ltd, of Burcott Road, Bristol, which when into liquidation shortly after the incident also admitted breaching Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. In his sentencing remarks, His Honour Judge Thomas said he fined the company a token amount of £85, which - had it still been solvent and able to pay - would have been in the region of £250,000.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Anne Marie Orrells 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."
EHOs will be expected to charge large and medium sized food businesses for hygiene inspections under plans to ensure official controls are adequately funded throughout the European Union.
Proposals published last week, which are subject to a Food Standards Agency (FSA) consultation, could change the way regulators monitor and enforce food safety in member countries.
Currently regulators are able to charge for some industries such as meat handling and fisheries but not for others such as catering. Under the plans EHOs will be expected to levy mandatory charges on all but the smallest of food firms.
‘Mandatory fees will be collected to cover the costs occasioned by official control activities performed on food and feed businesses,’ states the regulation proposed by the EU.
The fees will also apply to border controls and any emergency controls adopted by the EU.
However businesses employing fewer than 10 people, with annual turnovers of less than £1.6m, will be exempted.
The fees will be set at flat rate, with compliant firms partly refunded, or calculated on case-by-case basis. The EU says fees should cover all costs including staff salaries, travel, tests, facilities and equipment.
There will also be new rules covering the information made available to the general public. Local authorities and the FSA will be expected to regularly publish details of hygiene breaches, penalties and hygiene ratings
The FSA said the proposed plans will potentially affect all organisations involved in the production, manufacture, supply and regulation of food, feed, live animals, plants and plant reproductive material.
‘At present, the system for funding and charging is mainly left to the discretion of individual EU member states. Under the commission’s proposed plans, member states would be expected to recover the full cost of official controls,’ said a spokesperson.
he Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has voiced its serious concerns at the number of food premises receiving poor hygiene scores in a Which? survey released today.
The survey, which covered 2000 postcodes across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, reveals the areas with the worst food hygiene ratings as well as a number of popular food chains with too many branches receiving below ‘generally satisfactory’ scores.
Commenting on the survey, Graham Jukes, CIEH Chief Executive, said:
“It is completely unacceptable that so many food premises, many of which appear on most high streets, scored below ‘generally satisfactory’ on the food hygiene rating scheme.
“Environmental health practitioners, together with the Food Standards Agency and local authorities, provide an enormous amount of support, guidance and assistance to food premises.
“Popular high street food outlets must seriously consider improving the way they conduct themselves: they need to remind themselves that they are responsible for ensuring high standards of food hygiene and for making sure the public are safe. If they are not receiving a high score they need to change their food management systems and invest in high quality food safety training for their staff.
“This is a wake up call. As I have said many times before the most important ingredient for any food business is to ensure the food they provide to consumers is safe to eat.”
While it is important to note that receiving a poor hygiene score does not necessarily put the public at risk, the survey reveals that the public are not happy eating at a food outlet that receives a food hygiene rating below ‘generally satisfactory’.
Continuing, Jukes, said:
“The CIEH supports a mandatory nationwide hygiene rating scheme. At present Wales is the only country in the UK bringing one in. A recent survey conducted by our office in Wales and released at its public health conference indicated that a food hygiene rating scheme did incentivise businesses to improve standards but strong and robust local authority enforcement remains the primary driver for better standards of food safety.”