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Cladding contractor fined £240,000 following HSE investigation process

05 November 2023

GREEN FACADES Limited, which is based in London’s Woolwich Road, has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive following the results of an investigation process carried out at The Circle, an eight-storey building located on Henry Street in Liverpool.

When visiting the site, a Health and Safety inspector found potentially dangerous cladding lying on residents’ balconies at the apartment block, which posed a serious fire risk. The combustible cladding was similar to that used on Grenfell Tower.

Green Facades Limited had been contracted to remove the potentially dangerous aluminium composite panels and combustible insulation material.

When an inspector from the Health and Safety Executive first visited the site on 10 January last year, the inspection conducted revealed that, in preparation for the removal work, combustible material had been left exposed and there were inadequate means of escaping from the scaffold, which was being erected.

The situation had worsened when the inspector returned a few days later on 21 January. Further combustible material had been exposed with no protection from potential sources of ignition, while combustible cladding material was also found to be lying on residents’ balconies.

As the building remained occupied during the remediation works, the Health and Safety Executive inspector alerted the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, which then determined to take its own enforcement action.

Earlier enforcement

Green Facades Limited had been subject to earlier enforcement for similar breaches during cladding removal at a site in London. At that time, the company was provided with advice on sustainable compliance with the regulations.

An investigation carried out by the Health and Safety Executive found that Green Facades Limited had failed to take appropriate precautions to address the risk of fire and to ensure the safety of residents, workers and others. The company had also failed to take account of published guidance on the safe removal of cladding following the previous issue in London.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching regulations 11(1) and 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. In a hearing conducted at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court, the company was fined £240,000 and ordered to pay costs amounting to £5,405.

Disturbing irony

Subsequent to the hearing, Health and Safety Executive inspector Jackie Western commented: “The disturbing irony of this case is that work to protect residents from fire risk ended up making the situation even more dangerous.”

Western continued: “This prosecution highlights the need for responsible management of the removal of cladding. The potentially tragic consequences of fire involving this type of material are well known following the Grenfell Tower fire that occurred in June 2017.”

In conclusion, Western noted: “Despite earlier interventions and advice from the Health and Safety Executive, and the availability of a wealth of guidance from ourselves and others, this company continued to fail in its duty to address the risk of fire, in turn putting people’s lives at risk.”

The prosecution was supported by Health and Safety Executive lawyer Matthew Reynolds.