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North Wales case highlights high cost of ignoring HSE notices

A recent case at Mold Crown Court has highlighted the consequences of ignoring HSE safety notices.


When the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found out that a building firm was not protecting employees working on roofs with safety equipment or the correct PPE (personal protective equipment), it gave the owner of the business, Leonard Hamilton, a notice ordering that work on the roof must stop. Hamilton ignored the notice and two men continued working on the roof of a semi-detached house in Wrexham without scaffolding.


Hamilton, a former Welsh Premier League footballer, pleaded guilty to three health and safety charges including not complying with the Working at Heights regulations and not heeding a prohibition notice. He was given a 12-month suspended prison sentence and a 200-hour community service order, plus £4,000 costs.


The Working at Height regulations specify when scaffolding is needed, how high guard rails must be and requirements for fall arrest equipment. Around 20% of fatal workplace injuries are caused each year by falling from heights. The regulations cover all types of operations that take place at high locations, including trees, ladders, roofs, high platforms and when climbing. A variety of equipment is available to protect workers, such as harnesses, protective helmets,and guard rails.


The consequences of not complying to the Working at Height regulations are serious, and the HSE can instruct work to stop. If workers are injured because of inadequate safety procedures, the courts can impose large fines and business owners or directors can face prison sentences.


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