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Company director given community service for construction death

03 January 2008

The Health and Safety Executive this week warned employers of the need to plan ahead for the safe working of their employees as a West Yorkshire company director was prosecuted following the death of a construction worker.

Mr Norman Barry Ellis, director of Q Homes (Yorkshire) Ltd, pleaded guilty in Dewsbury Magistrates' Court to a charge pursuant to sections 2 and section 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, of failing to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health and safety of a company employee, Mr Andrew Michael Bridges. At the hearing on Tuesday, 2 January 2008 the Court ordered Mr Ellis to undertake 100 hours Community Service and to pay £6,000 costs.

On 14 July 2005, Mr Bridges and Mr Ellis were working to demolish a 2.5 tonne reinforced concrete roof at the rear of an old electrical store on the corner of Bradford Road and Eyre Street in Batley. During this work Mr Bridges was fatally crushed beneath the falling concrete roof.

HSE Inspector Sarah Hague, who investigated the case, says: "This was a tragic incident, made worse by the fact that it could have easily been prevented had the work been properly planned. When embarking on any project such as this, which involves structural alteration and demolition work, it is a basic requirement for work to be carefully planned and risks assessed . The Court was of the opinion that, in this case, a fine would not have reflected the seriousness of the offence. The way in which the work was carried out, which resulted in Mr Bridges' death, represented very serious failings on the part of Mr Ellis who had planned and was also carrying out the work.
"Construction is one of the UK's biggest industries, but it is also one of its most dangerous, accounting for 77 deaths. This represents 32 per cent of all worker fatalities in UK industries last year. Yet precautions are often simple to implement and this case provides a strong warning to the industry that its focus must be on prevention of risk. Meanwhile, HSE will continue to take appropriate enforcement action against those who fail to meet their legal responsibilities in respect of health and safety at work."

The company of which Mr Ellis was a director, Q Homes (Yorkshire) Ltd, was found by the court to have committed an offence under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 ('the Act') by failing to discharge the duty imposed on it under Section 2(1) of the Act to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of its employees."

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