Two companies fined for health and safety failings at a Belfast construction site
Following an investigation by HSENI, Bennett Management Contractors (GB) Limited and AF Roofing Limited have been fined for breaches of health and safety legislation. The prosecutions followed an investigation into the circumstances surrounding a fire on 28 August 2018 at Bank Buildings, the Belfast city centre retail premises of Primark.
On 30 June at Belfast Crown Court, Bennett Management Contractors (GB) Limited was fined a total of £80,000, and AF Roofing Limited was fined a total of £80,000.
Both companies earlier pleaded guilty to the charges in that they failed to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the safety of their own employees and of other persons on the site, including members of the public.
The HSENI investigation determined that appropriate steps had not been taken to ensure the risks associated with ‘hot works’ involving a gas-powered blow torch were suitably managed; however, the evidence has not established if any of these failings were the cause of the fire.
Speaking after the hearing, Kevin Campbell, an Inspector with HSENI’s Major Investigation Team stated: “All employers, including sub-contractors, have a legal responsibility to plan and organise work to ensure it can be carried out safely.
“Hot work activities involving the use of heat or open flames, must be properly assessed and controlled throughout the duration of the work, including during any breaks and at the end of the working day.
“Hot processes and hot work should be strictly controlled by operating permit-to-work schemes.”
Speaking further in relation to the prosecution, Kevin Campbell added, “HSENI will continue to work effectively with partner agencies, including the Public Prosecution Service.”
Bennett Management Contractors (GB) Limited was appointed as principal contractor for the refurbishment works at the Bank Buildings site and had overall responsibility for any construction work. As part of the project, AF Roofing Limited was engaged by the principal contractor to re-seal a section of the roof, work which required the use of a blow torch.
Once the fire alarm was activated all of the approximately 1300-1500 people on site, including construction workers and shoppers, safely left the building.
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