Construction Company and Director Fined After House Partially Collapses

A construction company and its director have been fined for health and safety failings after a house partially collapsed in Manchester.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) visited the property on Caxton Road, Fallowfield, on 22 September 2020 after being informed an exterior wall had collapsed during construction work undertaken by Servotec Ltd.

Following HSE’s visit, a Prohibition Notice was issued to Servotec Limited after the roof on the property was found to be unstable with the company also failing to provide a temporary works design (TWD).

Additionally, HSE issued Improvement Notices to the company for the poor welfare on site and insufficient asbestos survey. HSE has just launched a campaign highlighting the dangers of asbestos and has guidance on the safe working with asbestos.

HSE returned to the site on 25 September 2020 and a second Prohibition Notice was issued to Servotec after another structural problem was identified.

Servotec complied with all of the enforcement action issued.

Following this, HSE set out to investigate the initial cause of the partial building collapse, however the company and its director, Shaun Brae, were not forthcoming with the requested information over a number of months.

HSE made another visit to the house on 10 February 2021 when further health and safety breaches were found which included inadequate prevention of exposure to silica dust whilst cutting roof tiles. Servotec was then served with a Prohibition Notice and Improvement Notice.

The investigation by HSE found the company failed to comply with this final Improvement Notice and that significant risks across a multitude of areas were present at the site from start to finish, including structural safety, working at height and welfare. As Mr Brae was involved, directly served all Prohibition Notices and had demonstrated a persistent poor attitude and lack of accountability throughout HSE’s interactions, he was also found to have failed to comply in his role as a director.

Servotec Limited, of Mauldeth Road West, Chorlton Cum Hardy, Manchester pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1), Section 3(1) and Section 33(1)(g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £5,000 at Manchester Magistrates’ Court on 10 March 2023.

Shaun Brae of Repton Avenue, Ashford, Kent, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1), Section 3(1) and Section 33(1)(g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, by virtue of 37(1) of the Act. He was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £2,000 in costs at Manchester Magistrates’ Court on 10 March 2023.

HSE inspector Mike Lisle said: “This was a very serious incident, and it is fortunate nobody was injured as a result of the collapse or any of the subsequent failings.

“Where contractors demonstrate persistent poor health and safety and ignore Notices served, HSE will not hesitate to take necessary action.

“Directing minds playing a significant role in a Company’s failings will also be held accountable as was the case here.”