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Firm fined after 30 workers' lives put at risk

A construction company has been fined after the lives of up to 30 workers were put at risk.

The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted Retro Future 2000 after a visit to the construction site of two new apartment blocks on Kings Dock, Liverpool in April this year.

The inspection of the blocks on Keel Road, found several areas of the site had no barriers to stop workers falling and being seriously injured or killed.

They included an open lift shaft, a staircase landing between the fourth and fifth floors with no walls or rails, and an empty floor-to-ceiling window frame on the sixth floor with a rubbish chute attached.

The HSE investigation concluded that a worker could easily have fallen out of the window frame while emptying rubbish into the chute if they had tripped on a plank of wood next to it.

Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard that HSE also issued four enforcement notices following a previous visit to the site on 22 October 2009. They included a prohibition notice relating to falls from height, stopping work taking place until improvements had been made.

Retro Future 2000 Ltd was found guilty of breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 by failing to take measures to prevent workers being injured in a fall. The company, of Oldham Road in Manchester, was fined £7,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,981 on 25 November 2010.

Kevin Jones, the investigating inspector at HSE, said: “This is one of the worst cases I have ever dealt with and Retro Future is extremely lucky that no one was seriously injured. The company was managing a major construction project in Liverpool city centre, but the conditions on the site were appalling.

“There were several instances where Retro Future had failed to do anything to prevent falls, and put lives in danger as a result. We issued four enforcement notices, and offered written advice on managing the risks from falls, following a previous visit.

“Sadly, despite initially making improvements, the company appears to have fallen back into old habits within a few weeks.”

In 2008/09, there were 35 deaths and more than 4,000 major injuries caused by falls from height.

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