Contractor fined £600k over fire-risk failings at Essex site

A London-based construction firm has been fined £600,000 and its director also fined for “serious and repeated failings” around fire-safety risk management on a construction site.

In 2018, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an inspection at a site in Brentwood, Essex, to investigate health and safety failings by S&S Quality Building Contractors Limited. It was triggered by reports that people had been sleeping on site.

Another HSE inspection, which was assisted by Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, identified “failings in fire management” at the site that “created risks” to workers, as well as members of the public, who were visiting show flats outside of business hours.

The regulator also said that the environment at the Regent House site was “poorly managed” and that construction work was being carried out in an “unsafe manner”, which could have resulted in a fire.

According to the HSE, this was not the first case of fire risks being identified on sites worked on by the contractor, with other instances stretching back “several years”.

Inspectors also gathered evidence that the firm’s director, Shlomo Pines, regularly visited the Regent House site but failed to implement improvements in light of previous interventions by the regulator.

More than four years later, on 25 October 2022, the case was heard at Basildon Crown Court.

S&S Quality Building Contractors Limited of Hawthorn Business Park, Granville Road, London, pleaded guilty to breaching 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £600,000. It was also ordered to pay costs of £36,894.

Pines, of St Johns Road, Golders Green, London, pleaded guilty to contravening Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He received a community order to complete 100 hours of unpaid work and was fined £4,200.

Commenting on the judgment, HSE inspector Prentiss Clarke-Jones said: “S&S Quality Building Contractors completely ignored the importance of fire-safety measures on a construction site led by a director who wilfully chose to ignore the risks despite evidence he knew how to make things safe.

“This unsurprisingly resulted in a site where risks were also ignored by his workers.”

S&S Quality Building Contractors and Pines declined to comment.

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