Company fined £100k over failure to follow HSE advice

A South Wales contractor has been fined £100,000 for “running an unsafe timber-frame construction site” in July 2015.

HSE believe such projects pose a serious fire risk if not planned or managed properly. If a fire starts in such partly built wooden structures the speed and intensity of fire spread can be extreme putting workers and even members of the public at risk of harm.

Little fire protection in place

Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court heard that during an unannounced visit HSE found that adequate measures to prevent a fire starting and getting out of control were not in place. All the houses were under construction at broadly the same stage with:

  • little fire protection in place;
  • lack of site management control;
  • insufficient means to detect a fire and raise the alarm;
  • poor control of ignition sources; and
  • general lack of emergency planning.

Workers were also at risk of being struck or crushed by construction vehicles on site. The company of Neath, South Wales was fined for breaching Regulations 27 and 29 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Liam Osborne said:

“The company had been given plenty of warnings about fire-safety and traffic risks in the recent past, including from HSE. Timber-frame houses are perfectly safe once they’re finished and protected, but when under construction they can be very dangerous.