Firm fined £4,000 for putting workers in danger

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A NORTH East building firm has been hit with a £4,000 fine for dangerous practices on site.

An anonymous complaint was made to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) about work on the former Grampian Hotel site in Aberdeen in June 2010.

The building was being converted into a 30-flat development, and the principal contractor was Chester-le-Street-based MK Builders (North East) Ltd, which had overall responsibility for the site.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court was told that when inspectors arrived on site, they found debris was being dropped through the internal structure from the third floor to the ground level, timber was piled up below a hole in the ceiling, and there was nothing on the door to warn of the dangers inside.

HSE established that a worker had been gathering debris on the third floor and depositing it through the hole in the floor. Similar holes had been left in the floor at each level to allow the debris to fall, and all presented a fall risk because of unprotected open edges leading to falls of between three and 10 metres.

The court was told the worker on the third floor was carrying a fall arrest harness, which is generally used as the last line of defence to reduce the risks of falling but is not sufficient protection on its own.

HSE also found that the ground-floor area, in particular a door labelled as a fire exit, was blocked by materials that had been dropped from height. The door was also used to access the portable toilet outside, and workers would apparently shout up when walking through this area.

Two prohibition notices were served to stop any further work being carried out near the open flooring until suitable fall prevention measures were in place, and to stop debris being thrown through the holes in the floor to prevent others being struck by falling objects.

The firm, of Picktree Lane, was fined after admitting two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.