£500k fine for Bulgarian construction firm over health and safety breaches

Fined after breaching the ‘Work at Height’ Health and Safety Regulation 2005, whilst working on the Closer to the Edge attraction

A construction firm from Bulgaria, has been fined £500,000 after pleading guilty to breaching health and safety regulations, whilst working on the ‘Closer to the Edge’ high rope attraction at Markeaton Park, in Derby.

A member of the public noticed that work from a height was being carried out on a pallet, sat on the forks of a telehandler, whilst the company, Walltopia, worked on the new attraction in 2015, Derby Magistrates’ Court was told.

The member of the public contacted Walltopia about their concerns but despite the company assuring the individual, they carried on working from unsafe heights.

Company fined over 'work at height' health and safety breaches

View of the entrance to Markeaton Park, Derby

The individual decided to report the dangers to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). They discovered that work was being carried out on a section of roof that was eleven metres off the ground and no proper safety measures were in place to stop the two workers from falling off the open edges.

The also found that the workers were getting on to the roof by climbing out of a cherry picker basket.

The company, which is based in Letnitsa, Bulgaria, pleaded guilty to breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and were fined £500,000 and made to pay £8,013.25 in costs.

After the case, Lee Greatorex, an HSE Inspector said: “Using a pallet on a telehandler for planned work at height is an unacceptable means of access. It appears that the company failed to put in place control measures after being alerted about this.”

He added that when working at height, safety measures should always be carefully planned and put into place, to protect workers from the dangers and extreme risk of falling.

Mr Greatorex said: “In this case, someone could have suffered significant injuries, or death.”

Walltopia have worked around the world, on at least 1,500 projects and in total have built about 2.9m square feet of climbing areas.

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£130,000 fine for Network Rail amid health and safety failings

The company has been fined for health and safety breaches after a worker was hit by a 25,000 volt

The company, Network Rail, have been fined £130,000 for health and safety failings after one of their workers was hit by a 25,000 volt power surge whilst repairing an overhead line, close to Ardrossan South Beach Station.

The Network Rail worker, David McDermott, suffered “catastrophic injuries” in the incident, which occurred back in 2009.

The company admitted that they had failed to provide safe working documentation and did not make sure that work was only carried out on isolated areas of the line.

The crews that were carrying out the repairs in North Ayrshire, had been given a ‘hopelessly inaccurate’ work diagram by Network Rail, the court heard.

Network Rail fined for health and safety failings

A Network Rail safety poster

Since the incident, the company have improved their working systems, Kilmarnock Sheriff Court was told.

When the incident occurred back in 2009, Mr McDermott was working with a colleague in a mobile platform. He was fixing an isolated area of cable when he touched a live wire. Mr McDermott was hit by a 25,000 volt power surge.

Mr McDermott was severely injured as a result of the incident, causing serious loss of function and years of surgery, the court heard.

Mr McDermott’s injuries were described as ‘catastrophic’ by Sheriff Alistair Watson, who went on to say that no penalty would cover the price, or value of the suffering and pain that Mr McDermott still experienced.

“The obvious failure in the system, which is perhaps self-evident, is the fact that the schematic or diagram used as an essential guide for those involved in the repair operation was hopelessly inaccurate for a considerable length of time, despite it potentially being an issue of life and death importance, ” said Sheriff Alistair Watson.

The Sheriff also added that the diagram guide appeared to have been in constant use by those workers who trusted that their employer would keep them safe.

Putting it bluntly, this meant that a serious incident of this nature, whilst maybe not inevitable, was sooner or later, very likely.

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Liskeard landlord fined for health and safety offences

Cornwall landlord fined £500 for ignoring health and safety improvement notices

A Liskeard landlord has been prosecuted by Cornwall Council after ignoring multiple improvement notices which required him to carry out renovation work on a property that was not up to the council’s health and safety standards.

A Cornwall Council officer carried out an inspection at a property belonging to Nigel William Arthur Grist on May 19, 2015. The council inspector found that the property in Porthmellon Gardens, Callington, was “extremely overcrowded with serious health and safety issues present”.

Health and safety notices ignored by landlord

Liskeard, Cornwall

As a result of the inspection, Mr Grist was handed improvement notices by the council and told that he had to carry out renovation work to fix and improve the property’s heating system, electrical system and general security.

The council gave Mr Grist until September 4, 2015, to complete the work. However, when a council officer returned for a follow-up inspection on September 30, they found that nothing had been changed within the property and no improvements had been made.

Mr Grist appeared in Bodmin Magistrates’ Court on March 4 charged with three counts of failing to comply with the requirements of improvement notices as served under the Housing Act 2004. The defendant pleaded guilty to the charges and was ordered to pay a fine of £300, costs of £180, and a £30 victim surcharge.

Joyce Duffin, Cornwall Council member for housing and environment, commented: “This case highlights that there are still some landlords who are not fulfilling their legal obligation to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their tenants.”

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Court case highlights the importance of COSHH

The manager of The New Conservatory bar in Leeds has admitted breaching health and safety regulations in Leeds Magistrates’ Court after he accidentally served a glass of caustic soda to a customer.

Mr David Caminal, from Spain, was in Yorkshire on business, when he entered The New Conservatory bar for a drink on his day off. The manager poured the 48-year-old Spaniard a glass of what he thought was Sunbeam beer from the bar tap and handed it over to Mr Caminal. He took a swig and instantly felt his throat burning before he collapsed.

Mr Caminal was taken to hospital where he was induced into a coma. He was later flown back to his homeland and underwent surgery to remove his oesophagus, which is an exceedingly dangerous procedure.

Landlord prosecuted for serving caustic soda instead of beer

Poor COSHH resulted in this incident


The beer line that contained the sodium hydroxide had been cleaned using that substance earlier that day but somehow there had been a miscommunication and the bar manager was not aware that the beer tap was still connected to sodium hydroxide and not Sunbeam beer.

Sam Green, prosecuting, said: “Mr Caminal sustained life-threatening and life-changing injuries. In short this incident happened because the defendant … failed to take reasonably practicable steps to ensure customers … were not exposed to risks to their health and safety…”

District Judge David Kitson handed the manager a personal fine of £20,000, a company fine of £5,000 and ordered the defendant to pay £17,859 in costs.