Suspended sentence for construction company

Peninsula Team

February 03 2023

A fatal accident involving a worker unloading glass panes from a lorry has seen a company director handed a suspended prison sentence, and two firms fined for breaches of legislation.

Tawanda Chamwandayita, 37, was crushed to death under 17 panes of glass whilst unloading the materials from a lorry on Walsall Road, Birmingham. The unsecured glass had fallen against his leg, knocking him off the rear of the lorry where he fell to the ground.

A joint investigation was launched by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the West Midlands Police, which found that the unloading process was not properly planned, supervised or carried out safely. The firms involved, Evergreen Construction (UK) Limited and Leyton Homes (Perry Barr) Limited, had failed to identify the risk of workers falling from height when unloading from the lorry, and the risk of unsecured items falling from height.

The defendants also exposed inexperienced and vulnerable workers to dangerous conditions, with no supervision, no planning, no risk assessment, and wholly inadequate equipment. Many workers were as young as 17-years-old.

Birmingham Crown Court heard that Evergreen Construction were appointed as the Principal Contractor but failed to ensure the safety of their workers. Leyton Homes acted as the Client and engaged another contractor to arrange for delivery and unloading of the glass and other large, heavy items. As PC, Evergreen had the responsibility to ensure the unloading operation was properly planned, supervised and carried out safely, which they failed to do.

Jalal Rana, managing director of Leyton Homes, was present on site. He watched the glass being unloaded, but did nothing to ensure safe systems of work were place to protect workers from the known risks of working at height with heavy items. The investigation found that neither Leyton Homes or Evergreen Construction checked the competence of contractors under their supervision.

Evergreen Construction was found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) and Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations. They were fined £115,000 with £57,171.95 costs.

Leyton Homes was found guilty of the exact same breaches and fined £100,000 with £55,084.67 costs. As managing director, Jalal Rana was found guilty of breaching Section 37 (1) of HSWA. He was sentenced to nine months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay £57,171.95 in costs.

Speaking on the case following the judgment, HSE Inspector Edward Fryer said:

“This case highlights the importance of engaging competent contractors and making sure that roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. Management arrangements need to be clear between clients, contractors and principal contractors so that health and safety arrangements can be properly planned, coordinated and implemented.

“All parties are required to ensure that safety arrangements are in place and followed. This was a wholly preventable incident which led to the death of Tawanda Chamwandayita in tragic circumstances.”

For answers to more questions on health and safety, visit BrAInbox today where you can find answers to questions like What are the safety standards for ladders?

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