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Manchester company director fined after obstructing HSE investigation

04 September 2023

MANCHESTER-BASED construction company Amro Construction Ltd and its managing director David Taylor have been fined after a catalogue of fire-related Health and Safety failings were unearthed following an inspection process conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

On 13 January last year, HSE inspectors visited a timber-frame housing development under construction off Brookwood Drive in Meir, Stoke-on-Trent. Work was being carried out by a company named Amro Construction Ltd.

During a hearing at North Staffordshire Magistrates’ Court on 24 August, HSE enforcement lawyer Nathan Cook said that the regulator had identified several Health and Safety failings at the site, including the presence of an open flame gas stove among large volumes of combustible material, a lack of fire precautions, poor site security and inadequate washing facilities.

Cook went on to state that an investigation conducted by the HSE found that Amro Construction Ltd had also failed to assess the on-site and off-site fire risks, despite it being a timber-frame project located in a highly residential area. This was despite previous advice and enforcement from HSE in relation to the matter.

As a result, the company failed to implement measures to prevent a fire from occurring or spreading, in turn placing workers and members of the public at risk. The investigation also found the company had received previous enforcement in relation to the provision of adequate washing facilities.

Obstructing the inspector

During the course of the investigation, David Taylor (Amro Construction Ltd’s managing director) also deliberately obstructed the inspector by refusing to provide information requested as part of the ongoing enquiries, thereby causing a delay of several months.

At North Staffordshire Magistrates Court, Amro Construction Ltd (of The Junction, Rolls Crescent, Hulme in Manchester) pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974. The company was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,587.

David John Taylor (of Clarendon Street in Hulme, Manchester) pleaded guilty to breaching Section 33(1)(h) of the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974 and was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,935.

Proactive prosecution

Speaking after the hearing had concluded, HSE inspector Rob Gidman commented: “This type of proactive prosecution should highlight to the construction industry that the HSE will not hesitate to prosecute companies for repeated breaches of the law, and that directors will also be prosecuted where they intentionally obstruct our inspectors.”

Gidman added: “In order to protect workers and the public, it’s vital that fire risks are adequately considered when planning timber frame construction projects so that suitable control measures can be put in place from the outset. This includes consideration of how to prevent fire spreading from site during the construction phase, as well as providing general fire precautions focused on fire alarms and fire detection systems.”

*HSE has guidance concerning fire safety in construction can be found online at Construction – Fire Safety Industry Health and Safety (hse.gov.uk)