Recent prosecution, a timely reminder of responsibilities?

Greg Davies 2022

Greg Davies
Director of Market Development, Assurity Consulting
5th July 2024

The breached stemmed from the tragic death of a volunteer, Peter Konitzer, who was fatally crushed while removing temporary propping when a section of wall at Pewsham Locks collapsed in August 2016.

The subsequent investigation, run jointly by Wiltshire Police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), found the charitable trust had failed to make sure of the safety of volunteers, who were working within the excavation. Additionally:

  • The temporary propping was inadequate; and
  • There was no clear method for the safe installation or removal of props during this renovation work.

Commenting on the case HSE inspector James Lucas said:

“This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident. The situation which led to Peter’s death would not have arisen had the temporary structural works been properly planned and implemented to ensure a suitable safe system of work prior to the incident.”

The case also highlights the duties of all employers for not just the health and safety of their employees, but others who maybe affected by their activities.

Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his (their) employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”

Section 3(2) extends this duty to self-employed; and

Section 3(3) states: “In such cases as may be prescribed, it shall be the duty of every employer and every self-employed person, in the prescribed circumstances and in the prescribed manner, to give to persons (not being his employees) who may be affected by the way in which he conducts his undertaking the prescribed information about such aspects of the way in which he conducts his undertaking as might affect their health or safety.”

The general duties set out in Section 3 are therefore broad and extend to people including, customers, contractors, visitors, members of the public and volunteers. Making sure your work activities are properly assessed and take into account hazards that might not just affect employees, but others too, is fundamental to successful risk management/control.