...ignoring health and safety rules
A construction worker in Manchester has been branded as being “breathtakingly stupid” by a Magistrate after a picture emerged of the 25-year-old balancing on scaffolding 90ft above a building site without any safety equipment.
With the worker clearly violating health and safety rules, Zee Hussain – Partner in Employment Law – explains that the onus of following regulations falls on both employers and their employees.
The photo, which was taken by office workers in a nearby building, shows roofer David Mulholland balancing on scaffolding without any harnesses or safety equipment during wet conditions last January.
A concerned office worker sent the photo to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), who brought charges through the Magistrates Court.
During the case at the Magistrates Court, Mulholland claimed that the project was behind schedule, so he did not wait for the on-site scaffolder to come and make the area safe.
He instead wanted to progress with his work and clambered up onto the scaffolding in a clear violation of health and safety regulations.
During the hearing at Manchester Magistrates Court it is claimed that the construction worker only realised the danger he had put himself in after he saw the photo.
Work was being completed at the King Street townhouse, in the centre of Manchester, which has now opened as a hotel.
Mulholland receive a six month suspended jail term and a fine of £1,400 – he must also pay costs of £2,939.18 and a victim surcharge of £85.
After the ruling had been passed by district judge Nicholas Sanders, HSE inspector Matt Greenly said:
“Never before in my career as an HSE Inspector have I seen such a staggering disregard for personal safety as is demonstrated by the photograph of Mr Mulholland balancing on scaffold tubes in the rain.”
“It is a matter of pure luck that no-one was injured or killed by working at height in the manner seen in this image provided by a member of the public.”
“I would like to thank the person who reported their concern to us as they have been instrumental in saving the lives of Mr Mulholland and arguably anyone below him at that time.”
In what has been described as an unusual case, two other roofers were also caught disregarding health and safety regulations on the same building site three months after Mulholland’s photo was taken, they were both fined after each admitted a charge of contravening health and safety regulations.
With three workers in total apparently violating health and safety regulations on the same building site, it may appear that the employer could be at fault for not implementing proper regulations, however as Zee explains, responsibility for health and safety falls both to employees as well as their employer:
“Employers have legal responsibilities to ensure a safe and healthy workplace. However, employees also have rights and responsibilities for their own health, safety and wellbeing and must take reasonable care not to put other people, whether these are fellow employees or members of the public, at risk by what they do or don’t do in the course of their work.”
“As this case shows, should an employer or employee breach their responsibilities, health and safety inspectors have powers to enforce the law take action.”
Written by Zee Hussain.
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