Building contractor fined £600,000 for repeated fire safety failings

A building contractor and company director have been fined £600,00 and £4,200, respectively, for repeated fire safety failings at a construction site in London.

In January 2018, the national regulator for workplace health and safety, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), investigated Regent House, which is located in Brentwood, Essex, after a concern was raised that people were sleeping on the site.

In addition to health and safety concerns, it was found that S&S Quality Building Contractors Limited had breached several fire management regulations and had put workers – along with members of the public who were visiting show flats outside of business hours – at risk.

Further investigations by the HSE and Essex Fire and Rescue Service revealed poor management and construction work being carried out in an unsafe manner, which “could have resulted in a fire”. The company director, Shlomo Pines, had also visited the Regent House site regularly, yet failed to implement any of the recommendations for improvement.

Additionally, it appears that the London-based construction firm has been subject to several HSE interventions after fire risks were discovered across a number of sites over several years.

At a hearing at Basildon Crown Court on 25 October 2022, the company pleaded guilty to breaching 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £600,000, plus costs amounting to £36,894. Pines also pleaded guilty to “contravening Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974”. The company director was ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid community service and fined £4,200.

Prentiss Clarke-Jones, HSE Inspector, said: “S&S Quality Building Contractors Limited 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.

Follow the guidance, get competent advice, and take responsibility that the law requires at the very least, or someone may get hurt, which thankfully did not eventuate here.