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Jail Time for Cost Cutting Killers. Whitbread in Hot Water Apology

26 May 2017 | Updated 01 January 1970

Three company directors were jailed on May 19 following the death of a man who fell while working at a warehouse in Essex.

Nikolai Valkov, 63, died in hospital after falling through the roof of a warehouse in Harlow on 13 April 2015.

At Chelmsford Crown Court, Koseoglu Metalworks Ltd admitted an offence of corporate manslaughter and its sole director, Kadir Kose, admitted an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA).

Ozdil Investments Ltd denied corporate manslaughter and a HSWA offence but was convicted. Two of its directors, Firat Ozdil and Ozgur Ozdil, were convicted of a HSWA offence.

Firat Ozdil was jailed for one year, Ozgur Ozdil for 10 months and Kose for eight months.

The court heard how Ozdil Investments Ltd was the owner of the warehouse in question, called Ozdil House, where the roof needed repairs. Both the Health and Safety Executive and Harlow District Council issued warnings to the company about the dangers involved in the repair work and specifically the need for safety measures such as netting to be put in place. Despite this, Firat Ozdil and Ozgur Ozdil paid their friend Kose and his company Koseoglu Metalworks Ltd to carry out the work without netting or other safety measures.

The court heard Koseoglu Metalworks Ltd had no experience of roofing work and the fee paid by the Ozdils was approximately £100,000 less than a recognised roofing contractor would have charged.

Kose did not carry out a risk assessment at the site and sent staff employed by his company onto the roof without training.

While working on the roof, Mr Valkov stepped onto a discoloured skylight and fell to his death.

Luke Bulpitt, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "By ignoring the safety measures they knew were required, the Odzils and their company risked the lives of everyone working on the roof in an attempt to save money.

"Faced with the evidence against him, Kose and Koseoglu Metalworks admitted their guilt but the Ozdils and their company contested the charges. However, having heard the compelling case put forward by the prosecution, the jury returned guilty verdicts."


Details of sentences:

Count 1 (Ozdil Investments - Corporate Manslaughter)

£500,000 Fine, £53,115.34 Costs. Count 2 (Ozdil Investments - s2 HSWA), £160,000 Fine

Count 3 (Firat Ozdil) 12 months imprisonment. Disqualified from being a Director for 10 years

Count 4 (Ozgur Ozdil) 10 months imprisonment . Disqualified from being a director for 10 years

Count 5 (Koseoglu Metal Works Ltd) £300,000 Fine, £21,236 Costs. Count 6 (Koseoglu Metal Works Ltd) £100,000 Fine

Count 7 (Kose) 8 months imprisonment. Disqualified from being a director for 10 years.


Premier Inn apologises for scald death

A tourist staying at an Edinburgh Premier Inn was so badly scaled by hot water when she went to take a shower, she died from her injuries. The hotel chain has now issued an apology nearly five years after the incident and agreed to pay compensation.

59-year old Kalyani Uthaman had travelled from Bangalore in India to holiday in Scotland. Although not a well woman, she should not have been exposed to water at such a high temperature that it brought about organ failure. She died some weeks after the incident.

Mrs Uthaman's son said from his home that he felt disappointed that Premier owners Whitbread had taken so long to apologise in defending a six figure compensation claim.

Whitbread had claimed it took HSE guidelines as its basis for monitoring and regulating bathroom hot water and thus this was an isolated incident. The prosecuting lawyer had argued that the firm should install thermostatic mixing valves to protect its customers.


Sentence following multiple deaths on Norfolk excavation site

Thursday 25 saw two companies fined a total of £700,000 and a director receiving a suspended prison sentence following the fatal crushing of four workers at an excavation site in Norfolk.

The Court at the Old Bailey heard that on 21 January 2011 the men were constructing a large steel structure as part of the foundation for a large Pressure Test Facility (PTF) at Claxton Engineering Services in Great Yarmouth.

The structure, which weighed several tonnes, collapsed on top of the group. A large-scale emergency response took place to try and rescue the trapped workers. Adam Taylor, 28, 41-year-old Peter Johnson and brothers Thomas Hazelton, 26 and Daniel Hazelton, 30, were all pronounced dead at the scene.

The excavation for the horizontal PTF was more than 23m long, 3m wide and 2m deep. The horizontal steel cage being constructed would have weighed about 32 tonnes when completed.

The group were working for Hazegood Construction Ltd. Daniel Hazelton was an employee, while the other three were self-employed contractors. Encompass Project Management Ltd was the principal contractor, with Hazegood operating as a contractor.

A Health and Safety Executive investigation found serious flaws in the planning, management and monitoring of this complex project on the part of Claxton as well as Encompass and its company director David Groucott.

Claxton Engineering Services Ltd of Ferryside, Ferry Road, Norwich pleaded guilty to breaching the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations and was fined £500,000 and ordered to pay costs of £100,000.

Encompass Project Management Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £50,000.


Seven and a half month custodial sentence

David Groucott of Diss, Norfolk was sentenced to a seven and a half month custodial sentence, suspended for two years. He was ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid community work within 12 months and also ordered to pay costs of £7,500.

Charges against Hazegood Construction Ltd were ordered to lie on file.

HSE Construction Division Head of Operations Annette Hall said: “This was a long term, large scale and complex civil engineering project which needed to be planned, designed, managed and monitored effectively. The tragedy here is that, in the months leading up to the accident, any one of these parties could and should have asked basic questions about building the structure safely. Such an intervention could have avoided the tragic outcome of this entirely preventable accident.”


Council fined after apprentice’s fingers crushed

Thursday also saw Nottingham City Council fined after an apprentice suffered serious hand injuries.

Nottingham Crown Court heard how the 22-year-old worker was on site at Seagrave Primary School on 21 August 2014, when the lawnmower he was using became blocked. The court heard how the worker was trying to unblock the machinery when his hand came into contact with the rotating blade. His right index finger was severed and he also suffered serious cuts and ligament damage to other fingers on his right hand.

An investigation by the HSE found the council had removed some of the manufacturer’s safety measures of the machinery and replaced it with its own design which was not to the required safety standard. The council failed to suitably control the risks posed by the physical equipment in use and also didn’t fully consider training needs of the employees to operate the machinery in a safe and appropriate manner. Failures were also identified in the levels of supervision provided for the lawn mowing activity by apprentices.

Nottingham City Council pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment regulations and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. The body was fined £33,000 and ordered to pay costs of £12,000.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Sam Russell said: “The Council’s failings in this case have led to the worker suffering life changing injuries. The Council had for many years been removing a part of the lawnmower fitted by the manufacturer which prevented operators from gaining access to the blade. This meant that those operating the lawnmower were exposed to risk.”


Wigan building contractor sentenced after safety failings

On Wednesday, a Wigan based building firm was fined after serious safety failings. A preventative inspection, part of a Construction Inspection Initiative, was carried out at a Skyline Building Services Limited site by an Inspector from the Health and Safety Executive February 11, 2016.

Skyline Building Services Limited was responsible for managing work at a house renovation at Fletsand Road, Wilmslow. During the inspection of the site it was found that standards of safety, relating in particular to work at height, slips and trips and tidiness, were extremely poor. Edge protection was found to be missing or removed, rendering workers vulnerable to falls from height.. Debris was not removed from the site but tipped at the rear, burying the footings of scaffolding and making access unsafe.

Manchester Magistrates Court heard the supervision by management at the site was inadequate, resulting in a failure by all workers to deal with the risks present. During the inspection, a Prohibition Notice was served immediately halting all work on site except to make good the defects relating to falls from height, and an Improvement Notice was served to clear excessive waste.

Skyline Building Services pleaded guilty to breaches of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations and the Work at Height Regulations. The company was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4095.60.

The partially built steel reinforcement structure for a large Pressure Test Facility at Claxton Engineering Services in Great Yarmouth after it collapsed

Article written by Cathryn Ellis | Published 26 May 2017


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