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Construction site boss imprisoned for failing to report a serious accident

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By Stefan Desbordes


Published 26 May 2021


A builder has received a 24-week prison sentence and was ordered to pay prosecution costs following a serious construction site incident and a failure to submit a RIDDOR report to the Health and Safety Executive.

On 8th January 2019, a worker on a construction site in New Malden, Surrey, was using an excavator when it tipped over while digging and crushed the worker’s leg, resulting in amputation.

Paul Adams, trading as Surrey Conversions, did not report the incident to the HSE within 10 days as required by the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR). The HSE started their investigation only when the injured worker complained more than 8 months after the incident. By this time, the works on site had already been completed and crucial evidence relating to the cause of the incident was unattainable. The HSE did however find that the injured worker had no formal training for operating excavators and he was put under pressure to use the 1.7 tonne excavator despite requesting that a more suitable 3 tonne model be provided. The HSE also found that Mr Adams had no health and safety related documentation and no employer’s liability insurance cover for the injured worker to claim against. Mr Adams had also not received any health and safety related training despite working in the construction industry for 50 years.

Before Westminster Magistrates’ Court, Mr Adams pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 3(1) of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013. He was sentenced to a 24-week custodial sentence and was ordered to pay prosecution costs of £2,033. The judge commented on how distressing it must have been for the injured worker knowing that the incident that caused his life-changing injury was not being investigated.

This case reinforces the importance of understanding health and safety obligations, providing the correct equipment, training staff to do their work safely, and ensuring that RIDDOR reports are submitted promptly.

Our national Regulatory team advises organisations across a diverse range of sectors on compliance with their statutory health and safety, product safety and environmental obligations, and help them to manage their response to major incidents, and to protect their interests, particularly when faced with the threat of investigation or prosecution by the regulatory authorities. We also offer a wide range of training sessions and workshops. For more information or advice, please contact one of our specialist lawyers.