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The HSE launched an investigation on 27 July after it carried out an unannounced inspection of J G Hale Construction's site in the town of Blaenavon. It found the company did not properly plan and manage its site and there were no control measures in place to prevent a fire starting and spreading.
There was a lack of site management control, insufficient means to detect a fire and raise the alarm, poor control of ignition sources and a general lack of emergency planning. Workers were also at risk of being hit or run over by construction vehicles, Cwmbran Magistrates' Court heard.
The HSE issued J G Hale with improvement notices for fire safety and vehicle safety and the company complied with these after two further inspections.
J G Hale pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 27 and 29 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, which stipulate that traffic routes must be organised to ensure pedestrians and vehicles can operate safely in close proximity to each other, and that steps must be taken to prevent injury from a fire or explosion. It was fined £40,000 and £60,000 for each offence and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £4,634 plus a £120 statutory surcharge.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Liam Osborne said: "Hale Construction had been given plenty of warnings about fire safety and traffic risks in the recent past, including from the HSE.
"Timber-frame houses are perfectly safe once they're finished and protected, but when under construction they can be very dangerous. Stringent fire safety standards need to be in place well before the build starts, and then maintained and monitored."
South Wales-based J G Hale Construction was building 54 timber-framed houses and flats on the site of a former primary school in the town of Blaenavon. Work began on 24 October 2014 and was due to finish in January this year. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspected the site on 27 July 2015, and found fire safety failings and a failure to control the risk of pedestrian workers being hit by construction vehicles, including a large materials handler, a dump truck, tracked excavators and delivery lorries.
Ken Cresswell, 57, Chis Huxtable, 34, and John Shaw, 61, were trapped underneath rubble on 23 February and have not been found. Michael Collings, 53, was also killed and his body has already been recovered.The decommissioned Didcot A power station in Oxfordshire was due to be demolished when the boiler house partially collapsed on 23 February. A 50 m exclusion zone was then set up around the site after the remaining structure became unstable.
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