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  • Sophie Forrest

Further fines after fatal fall on office conversion

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

An incident on 24 February 2021 which resulted in the death of an employee at Palmyra House, Palmyra Square in Warrington has led to two Companies being fined last week after an HSE investigation.

Father-of-one Dennis Vincent, 36, and another worker were using ropes to install a lightning protection system to the front of an office block being converted into flats.

Vincent, who was from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, was lowering the access equipment from the roof, using a rope attached to a frame at roof level and a handrail at ground level. As he did so, both he and the frame fell from the roof to the ground.

The incident happened on 24 February 2021 at Palmyra House, Palmyra Square in Warrington. Inco Contracts Ltd and Prestige Security Installations Ltd were fined last week after an HSE investigation.

The companies were found guilty of breaching health and safety regulations following a three-week trial at Liverpool Crown Court earlier this year. In February, PTSG Electrical Services Ltd, Vincent’s employer, was fined £120,000 after the company failed to adequately assess the risks associated with working at height.

The HSE investigation found that Inco Contracts Ltd, the principal contractor for the project, and Prestige Security Installations Ltd, the contractor in control of the electrical installation package, failed to ensure that the lightning protection work was properly planned and failed in their duties to manage and monitor the work to ensure it was carried out safely.

Due consideration had not been given to safer methods of working at height, such as the use of scaffolding or a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP), and the workers had been given no instruction or safe means of getting their equipment down from the roof.

Inco Contracts Ltd, of Dunston, Stafford, Staffordshire, was found guilty of breaching the CDM Regulations and was fined £600,000 and ordered to pay £58,448 in costs.

Prestige Security Installations Ltd, of Sycamore Lane, Great Sankey, Warrington, was also found guilty of CDM Regulation breaches and was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £15,000 in costs.

HSE inspector Sara Andrews said:

“It is vitally important that work at height is properly planned; where it isn’t, the risks can lead to the most serious of consequences. As such, duties are placed on all those involved in construction work to ensure that the risks are properly assessed, and suitable control measures are implemented. Principal contractors and contractors should be aware that appointing subcontractors with specific specialisms does not remove the duty that they have to ensure the work has been properly planned and can be undertaken safely.

Had Inco Contracts Ltd and Prestige Security Installations Ltd properly reviewed PTSG Electrical Services Ltd.’s proposals for carrying out the work, they could have ensured suitable controls were in place prior to work starting and this tragic incident could have been avoided.

Our thoughts remain with the family of Dennis Vincent, a husband and father, who did not return home on 24 February 2021 because of the significant failings of these three companies.”

Source HSE

How can Forrest Health & Safety help, support and assist your organisation to prevent similar incidents?

1. We can assist you:

  • To ensure the requirements of the CDM regulations and the Work at Height regulations are applied.

  • To ensure appropriate checks are made prior to the appointment of subcontractors and contractors undertaking specialist work at height activities.

  • With the development of risk assessments and method statements, to ensure a safe system of work is developed prior to starting a work at height activity.

  • Review your existing risk assessments and advise on document suitability and sufficiency.

  • Inspect your sites and workplaces by carrying out health, safety, and welfare inspections, and prepare audit reports as part of your management system processes. We will advise Directors on findings with clear and concise reports.

2. Approach to risk assessment – it remains vital for organisations to consider and review all information available within its control (as well as industry knowledge), to identify foreseeable risks (particularly ‘‘high risk’ hazards), and thereafter ensure adequate control measures to eliminate or reduce risk.

Risk Assessments should be kept under review, and adequately reconsidered in the event of any ‘near misses’ and avoid missed opportunities for improvement.

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