Building Company in Court over Working Conditions

Building Company in Court over Working Conditions 25875

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has prosecuted a company after it failed to provide basic working conditions for employees.

Two Brooks Valley, which is based in the East Beach area of Lytham, was taken to Court by the authority after it emerged the construction of a new mini-supermarket did not meet the basic standards necessary in the UK.

Standards

Employers are duty bound to provide workers with whatever they need for their jobs, including facilities to shelter, dry clothes and hot food or drinks.

While this might seem relatively strange at first, something that some might argue should be left to an employer's discretion, the tough working conditions involved in the construction sector pushed the government to legislate for all basic comforts to be taken into consideration.

Blackpool Magistrates' Court heard this was not the case at the Two Brooks Valley site in Warton, where workers had no way of drying their clothes or preparing basic meals.

The only facilities available for the four members of staff employed on the project were a basic chemical toilet and an outside cold-water tap. 

Not only does this kind of management risk negative publicity and the attention of the HSE and other prosecutors, but it also negatively affects morale and leaves workers in danger of poor nutrition and hygiene.

Fine

For failing to take care of employees, Two Brooks Valley was fined £650 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,050 after pleading guilty to breaching the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 on 26 March 2014.

The HSE has been clear in its intention to pursue similar cases in the coming months and inspector Allen Shute, speaking to the press, was keen to ensure this message was sent to other construction businesses.

"Workers had to face needlessly unpleasant conditions over several weeks and this would have continued if we hadn't carried out a routine inspection of the site," he explained.

"The four builders were expected to work in cold and wet conditions for nearly three weeks without basic welfare facilities being provided by Two Brooks Valley.

"Working conditions fell well below the minimum legal standards and are no longer tolerated in the 21st century. The company should have made sure suitable facilities, such as a cabin and access to hot water, were on the site before it allowed the building work to start."

BBC TV Filmed Employee

Two Brooks Valley is not the only north-west company to have been sanctioned by the HSE in recent weeks.

Renov8, an Oldham-based roofing company, was fined £1,000 and told to pay £1,255 by the HSE after the BBC TV programme Watchdog filmed an employee of the company walking on a sloping roof to remove moss; risking a fall from heigh.

This is very dangerous activity and it was found that the company's owner Darren Potts repeatedly failed to put scaffolding, or any other safeguards, in place to prevent falls that could potentially have been fatal.

As well as Renov8 being fined, Trafford Magistrates' Court also told Mr Potts to complete 200 hours of community service.

By Francesca Witney