A construction company and its groundworks contractor have been fined after unsafe excavation work left a worker with serious burns to his hand and arm.

High Wycombe Magistrates’ Court heard that, on the 2 August 2018, a groundworker was preparing the ground to install a post to carry an Automatic Number Plate Recognition Camera (ANPRC), at Twyford near Reading, Berkshire.

Initially, the worker dug by hand, however, due to the ground conditions and numerous hedgerow roots he started to use an 110V mechanical electric breaker.

The incident occurred when the groundworker struck a power cable supplying an adjacent British Telecommunications building. The voltage of the cable was 415v causing the ground worker to receive an electric shock that caused burns to one hand and to his opposite arm.

An Investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that site plans for buried cables had not been consulted and a cable avoidance tool had not been used to locate buried services in advance of carrying out the work. In addition, there was a lack of properly trained labour and supervision in place for the excavation works.

The principal contractor on site had failed to plan, manage and monitor the excavation works and also failed to provide adequate supervision for the ANPR installation project.

CLC Contractors Limited (the Principal Contractor), of Unit 2 Northbrook Industrial Estate, Vincent Avenue, Southampton, SO16 6PB pleaded guilty to breaching 13 (1) Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and were fined £400,000.00 and ordered to pay costs of £5,300.00.

Paul Gale, Company Director of PAG Building Services Ltd of 2 Moore Crescent, Netley Abbey, Southampton, Hampshire pleaded guilty to Section 37(1) Health and Safety Work Act 1974.

Due to the seriousness of the offence the case was referred to Aylesbury Crown Court for sentencing. Paul Gale was sentenced to 14 months imprisonment suspended for 24 months and 150 hour of community service. HSE was awarded costs of £7,200.

Speaking after the case, HSE inspector John Caboche commented: “Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers in the safe system of working. In this instance, readily available buried service records were not consulted, and a cable avoidance tool was not provided to the groundworks team. Utilising these simple steps would have prevented this serious incident.”

As reported on HSE Media

A builder has been jailed for more than three years after he killed one of his workers while demolition a garage.

Paramjit Singh, 48, of Iris Road in Southampton, was found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter following a two-week trial at Winchester Crown Court on October 2021.

He was sentenced on December 03rd to three years and three months in jail for the charge. He was also sentenced to 20 months in prison after admitting to breaching sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act and his sentences will run concurrently.

The incident happened in Chilworth in 2019 when Singh had been hired to demolish Birchdene, on Ling Dale. At the time, Singh was the owner and manager of SAB builder and employed staff to work as “odd job men”.  The day before the incident took place Singh had demolished all but one side of the garage on the ground and then returned on July 16, 2019, to complete the job.

Singh arrived at around 9am to demolish the final wall before jumping into a digger and moving towards the wall.

However, when the wall was demolished Kulwant Singh Athwal, one of Singh’s workers, was standing on the other side and the structure collapsed on top of him.

Singh is understood not to have known where his team were when he began working with the digger.

A post mortem examination found that Mr Athwal died of his injuries, which were consistent with being crushed by a heavy object.

Speaking after the sentencing hearing, Detective Chief Inspector Kate Gunson said:

“This was an extremely tragic case resulting in the completely avoidable death of Kulwant Singh Athwal.  It is a tragedy for all involved. We hope that lessons will be learned that prevent this from ever happening again.”

The court also heard how Singh’s public liability and CS card were expired after SAB Builders went bankrupt in 2015 and the company ceased trading.

HSE inspector James Lucas said: “All demolition work, however large or small, has the potential of serious risk if it is not properly planned and controlled.

“Paramjit Singh failed to prepare a written plan for the demolition of the building or any site-specific risk assessments. In this case, simple control measures and safe working practices, such as excluding people on site from danger zones with physical barriers, could have saved a life.

“There are no winners here. The victim, Kulwant Singh Atwal, so sadly lost his life because of the absence of basic safety measures. The perpetrator, Paramjit Singh, will spend time in prison and will always carry the heavy burden of having caused another person’s death.  HSE would like to encourage all small builders to ensure they know how to properly plan, manage and monitor all construction work they undertake. The HSE website provides a wealth of information, some of it translated into other languages.  In addition, HSE wants to stress to all workers from minority communities or anyone from any background who may feel vulnerable, that health and safety law is there for their protection, just as much as any other workers. HSE always focuses on making workplaces safer and healthier, whoever is at risk.”

A national construction company has been fined after an unannounced inspection by Health and Safety Executive inspectors found poor welfare standards, dangerous electrical systems and inadequate health and safety provision on site.

Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard how concerns had been raised regarding the health and safety standards at the construction site of the former Tobacco Warehouse, Stanley Dock, Liverpool, being renovated by Abercorn Construction Limited. A site inspection found the welfare cabin used by employees to be in poor condition, containing exposed live wires and damaged electrical sockets, a mouldy dishwasher and an accumulation of rubbish both inside and outside the cabin with the potential to attract vermin.

A general site inspection found numerous uncontrolled high risks such as a damaged cable on a 400v transformer, insufficient fire alarms, a lack of fire extinguishers and signage indicating emergency routes and multiple examples of unprotected edges and openings exposing workers to risk of a fall from height. There was also inadequate pedestrian and vehicle segregation, poor order, poor lighting and the risk of exposure to live electrical conductors.

The investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had failed to effectively plan, manage and monitor the works which had resulted in these health and safety issues arising on site. These risks had already been highlighted to the company in previous written enforcement. Despite compliance being achieved, poor standards had been allowed to develop again.

Abercorn Construction Limited of 50 Bedford Street, Belfast pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £77,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,025.52.

After the hearing, HSE inspector John Padfield commented: ”This type of proactive prosecution will highlight to the industry that HSE will not hesitate to prosecute companies for repeated breaches of the law.

“Good management of health and safety on site is crucial to the successful delivery of a construction project and principal contractors have an important role in managing the risks of construction work and providing strong leadership to ensure standards are understood and followed”

As reported on: HSE Media

SMSTS Course

The Site Management Safety Training Scheme is commonly referred to as the SMSTS course and forms part of the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) Site Safety Plus suite of courses.

The Site Safety Plus (SSP) suite of courses provide for key training across a range of roles within the construction, building and civil engineering sectors.

The SSP suite of courses are aimed as specific roles:

These qualifications were created by the CITB to establish and set clear industry wide standards for the management of health and safety across all construction sites within the United Kingdom.

Aim of the SMSTS Training course

The aim of the SMSTS training course is to impart; in-depth knowledge, best practice and the relevant skills required for everyone who is currently working as a construction site manager, or is aspiring to do so.

Hence if you are a; construction site manager, project manager, contracts manager or a site supervisor looking to step up, undertaking the SMSTS course it will assist you in understanding current legislation and best practice enabling you to fullfill your role more effectively, particularly with regard to: planning, controlling, organising, monitoring and administering your staff in a safe manner on a construction site.

Entry Requirements for the SMSTS course

Whilst there are no formal entry requirements for the SMSTS courses as it is aimed at managers, individuals wishing to undertake the course are expected to be competent in the English language – both spoken and written.  Previous health and safety knowledge and experience is also recommended.

Individuals should of course either already be operating as a site manager or about to adopt a site manager role.

Length of the SMSTS course

The SMSTS is a five (5) day tutor led course that can be undertaken in the; classroom or remotely online.

Requirement for SMSTS Training

Whilst there is no specific legal requirement for construction site managers to hold the SMST qualification, it is endorsed by BuildUK and the majority of construction sites within the UK will require their site managers to have it and to have obtained a CSCS Black Managers Card.

Difficulty Level of the SMSTS Training Course

The SMSTS is not overly difficult although as with all courses it can prove challenging particularly if you have additional responsibilities such as work and family to provide for.

You must attend all five days of the course and throughout you will be actively encouraged to engage and participate in the course excercises and share your own experiences of working on a construction site.

The written examination is undertaken on the last day of the course and consists of 18 multiple choice and 7 short answer questions (25 in total), it must be completed within 35 minutes and the pass mark is 81%.

It is stongly suggested that you set aside time for revision in preperation for the exam particularly if you have not undertaken any form of training/examination in the recent past.

SMSTS Certification

The SMSTS course is certified for a period of five (5) years upon its successful completion and it demonstrates to employers that you have met the qualification standard required to operate as a construction site manager.

As the certificate is time limited there is a requirement for individuals to retrain periodically (every 5 years) in order to stay certified.  Re-certification can be achieved through the completion of the shorter SMSTS Refresher course which can be completed in two (2) days.  The refresher is specifically aimed at those individuals who have previously successfully undertaken the SMSTS course.  This shorter course must however be undertaken prior to the expiry of original certification (5 years).

CSCS Black Card

In isolation successful completion of the SMSTS course is not sufficient to qualify an individual for a site managers Black CSCS Card.  Individuals must also:

a. Pass the CITB Health, Safety & Environment Test – at the appropriate level i.e. managers and professionals

b. Successfully completed a relevant Level 5, 6 or 7 NVQ i.e. construction management

You can undertake a relevant NVQ at the appropriate level with Goldcross.

Where can I take the SMSTS Training course

Goldcross Training provide a number of methods by which this course can be undertaken: on block, over weekends, through day release, in the classroom and online.  Why not give one of our training assistants a call to discuss your options on: 0203 6335505 or book directly here.