Suspended jail sentence for construction worker with 'staggering disregard for personal safety'
Tuesday 3rd January 2017
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Manchester Magistrates' Court was told that David Mullholland, a 25-year-old employee of a steel erection company, was working at height during a hotel development project in Manchester. On 21 January 2015 he climbed up the scaffolding to hammer some steel beams into position.
A nearby worker took the photo of Mullholland from their office window and contacted the HSE. Inspectors went to the site and questioned him.
They found that all contract workers had access to a full-time scaffolder on site to ensure safe working platforms were in place, but Mullholland did not ask him to make the area safe. He said the project was three weeks behind schedule and wanted to finish the job quickly.
The executive also found that Mullholland failed to use a tower scaffold that was available.
Mullholland, from Preston, Lancashire, pleaded guilty to breaching s 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Act for failing to take reasonable care for his safety and the safety of others. He was fined £1,400 plus £2,940 costs and sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for 18 months.
After the case, HSE inspector Matt Greenly said: "This case dealt with a serious work at height risk which would have led to a fatal incident. David Mullholland failed in his duty to protect his own safety while at work and also placed others at risk had he dropped any tool from the position he was seen in, some 27 m above street level. During the HSE's investigation he said that he did not appreciate how high he was.
"Never before [-¦] have I seen such a staggering disregard for personal safety. It is a matter of pure luck that no one was injured or killed. Many thanks go to the member of the public who reported their concern to us as they have been instrumental in saving the life of Mr Mullholland and arguable anyone below him at the time."
The company was installing a mezzanine floor at a factory in Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey when the incident occurred on 13 January 2015. The contractor was working on the floor when he stepped backwards and fell through a hole where a lift was due to be installed.
The company was also fined £61,000 for failing to ensure that those using the equipment were not exposed to the risk of injury or death, for failing to maintain the equipment and for hiring the cherry picker out when it had not been certified as safe. Another company, J M Access Solutions, which had been hired to carry out statutory thorough inspections was also fined £30,000 for failing to do so.
The mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) was owned by Craig Services and Access, which was managed by Donald Craig. He was found guilty of a charge under s 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work (HSW) Act at Airdrie Sheriff Court and sentenced on 6 January after a 16-day trial. Craig had denied the allegations.His company was fined £61,000 for failing to ensure that operators were not exposed to the risk of injury or death, for failing to maintain the equipment, and for hiring out the cherry picker when it had not been certified as safe.
Chelmsford Crown Court was told that Dengie Crops, which grows and produces alfalfa for animal feed, contracted agricultural and construction machinery supplier Ernest Doe & Sons to renew a roof at its premises in Asheldham, Essex. However, Ernest Doe did not have the appropriate experience to carry out the work and subcontracted it to Balsham Buildings, a structural steel fabricator and cladding contractor. Balsham decided how the project should be carried out and subcontracted the replacement again to Strong Clad.
Manchester Crown Court was told that on 8 July 2015 three men were carrying out a routine task, changing refrigeration gas inside the chilled storage units. They were working in the roof void of the chilled store building above the units. The victim stood at the edge of the roof on a fragile fire board panel. The board gave way and he fell into the void between the chilled unit and the building shell. He sustained injuries to his head.
Birmingham-based Asbestos Decontamination Services employee Alan Burdett was overseeing a group of operatives during a large-scale asbestos ceiling removal project at Raleigh House in Stockport. He was filmed letting workers enter a sealed asbestos enclosure, designed to prevent airborne fibres escaping and contaminating people and the main building, even though they were not wearing facemasks or protective clothing.