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Construction company fined for failing to carry out risk assessments and provide a safe system of work

24 February 2014

​Prosecution

Cosgrove (1969) Ltd was fined £4,000 in the Royal Court, with 2 years to pay, on 20 December 2013 for a breach of Article 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work (Jersey) Law, 1989. The Court stated it would have imposed a fine of approximately £10,000 but in light of the defendant’s financial circumstances, the fine level was reduced.

The prosecution came about as a result of an investigation into an accident to an employee. The investigation identified there were no risk assessments for the work undertaken on a construction site in St Marys and therefore an unsafe system of work had been used.

Investigation

The company was refurbishing a bungalow in St Marys when, on 22 March 2013, an experienced employee fell approximately 5 feet 10 inches whilst removing a concrete lintel above a ground floor window. Fortunately the employee did not suffer serious injury but the investigation into the accident identified that there were no risk assessments for the activities on site. Instead the company relied on the experience of its employees to effectively plan, manage and control their own work and keep themselves safe. 

This approach resulted in the employee using an unsafe system of work to remove the lintel. As the bungalow roof had been removed, the top of the lintel was exposed. The employee stood on the working platform of an external scaffold and, whilst standing over the lintel, used an electric hammer to chip away the top surface of the lintel. By doing so, the strength of the lintel was reduced and it appears the lintel suddenly collapsed, causing the employee to fall forward onto the wooden floor of the bungalow. The Court commented that ‘it was a matter of chance, in our view, that the employee did not suffer more serious injury’.
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