Company and directors fined after member of public’s death

A Brighton-based construction company and two of its directors have been fined a total of £75,000 following the death of a member of the public at one of its building sites.

The HSE prosecuted PIB (UK) Ltd for breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company pleaded guilty and was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,500.

Two of the company’s directors, John Blankson and Steven Moore also faced legal action over health and safety breaches at the site.

Mr Blankson, who was also the client for the project, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 20(1) (a) (b) and (c) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. He was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,465.

Mr Moore was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,500 after pleading guilty to breaching section 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Mr Moore was disqualified as a director for five years.

Lewes Crown Court heard how on Sunday 29th June 2008, Edward Dean, (age 24 and lived in Brighton) had been out socialising when in the early hours of Monday 30th June, he wandered onto the construction site.

PIB (UK) Ltd was refurbishing a large semi-detached house and turning it into five flats. The site wasn’t properly secured, and Mr Dean was able to enter the work area. Mr Dean tripped over an unprotected edge and fell 2.4 metres into a basement courtyard. He was found dead later in the morning.

Following the hearing, HSE Inspector Denis Bodger said: “Unmanned construction sites should be properly secured such that people and especially children cannot unknowingly wander into places of danger. Edward Dean should never have been able to enter the site where there were unprotected edges.

“It was both illegal and irresponsible for PIB UK Ltd and the company directors to disregard the importance of security on this site – leaving obvious hazards that in this tragic case resulted in the unnecessary loss of a young life.

“Falls are the largest single cause of fatal accidents and serious injuries on construction sites. Sites can be easily and cheaply secured by providing suitable fencing or hoarding, using lockable gates and providing clear signage. Had PIB and its directors taken these simple precautions Edward Dean’s tragic death could have been avoided.

“The HSE is calling upon building contractors and those clients having building work undertaken for them to ensure they are familiar with the law and implement the requirements of industry recognised safe practice before work starts.

“Only through proper understanding of the law, planning of the work and ensuring risks are properly controlled from the outset, will these tragic incidents be prevented. The directors of small companies need to understand that they can find themselves disqualified as well as fined.”