A construction firm has been fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,000 after it was found the firm failed to provide toilets and running water for subcontractors working on their site.
The Grade 2 listed building in Preston was being refurbished by Altrincham-based RNT Developments and Construction Ltd in early 2013, but after bringing in roofers, damp treatment experts, electricians, joiners and plasterers to work on the building, they failed to provide basic facilities for the workers.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was alerted to the issue after an inspector spotted the failure during a visit as part of the construction site inspection initiative earlier this year.
Preston Magistrates' Court heard how subcontractors had to use wet wipes and paper towels to clean themselves after removing rotten timbers and floor boards, and that the subcontractors had to leave the site to find toilets elsewhere in the city.
Magistrates were told that the three-storey building had been empty for two years before the work started and the water supply had been turned off, which meant the existing toilets could not be used. The temperature inside the building was also bitterly cold.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Stuart Kitchingman said, “It would have been easy for RNT to reinstate the existing welfare facilities in the building, but instead the firm allowed work to be carried out in grimy and dusty conditions for nearly seven weeks without access to the most basic facilities. It’s totally unacceptable in the twenty-first century to find Dickensian-like conditions. In fact, it’s a legal requirement that workers aren’t treated in this way.”
The working conditions were archaic – more like they would have been when the building was first erected in Victorian times – and will no longer be tolerated in the 21st Century. RNT should have made sure there were welfare facilities on the site before it allowed the refurbishment project to start. Instead, workers had to face needlessly unpleasant conditions over several weeks.”
RNT Developments and Construction Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to providing welfare facilities for its workers under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations SI 2007/320.
For more information, see:
- Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 2007/291.