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Building site owner fined £200,000 for allowing employees to work in deadly conditions without a toilet

The owner put "profit before safety" and paid cash in hand to untrained workers

A member of the public raised concerns about the conditions at the site in Pitcairn Road, Mitcham(Image: Google Maps)

A building site owner has been fined more than £200,000 for putting "profit before safety" - with workers at risk of fire, falling from four metres high and exposure to asbestos.

Selliah Sivguru Sivaneswaran, 52, of Harlyn Drive, Pinner, admitted breaching serious health and safety laws and was ordered to pay £200,000 and £1,421.20 in costs, on Wednesday (August 30).

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that a member of the public raised concerns about the conditions at the derelict site at 60 Pitcairn Road in Mitcham.

The project involved the demolition of the old flats and the construction of four one-bedroom flats and two two-bedroom flats on a site bought for £115,000 in 2001.

The court heard despite the foreseeably large financial return from the project, Sivaneswaran put profit before safety and paid cash in hand to untrained workers, did not engage a site manager, and provided none of the legally-required site documentation.

'Good fortune' that no one was killed

Andrew Verrall-Withers, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector, said: “Mr Sivaneswaran was a commercial client as he was carrying out work as part of a business.

"When he failed to appoint a principal contractor, their duties fell on him.

"Thanks to a member of the public reporting the dangerous conditions HSE was able to take action.

"It was just good fortune that no one had been killed at the site."

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspection had identified serious safety breaches while it was being demolished, back in October 2016.

Demolition on the site was halted after it was found that workers were being exposed to a range of risks, including exposure to asbestos, falling from height, and fire.

Sivaneswara failed to make changes to the development project and HSE found the work had restarted while the site was still unsafe on January 4, despite enforcement notices being served and advice being provided.

The demolition continued to be carried out by hand with workers climbing onto the unguarded roof and throwing the debris down.

Workers were at risk of fire, falling from four metres high and exposure to asbestos(Image: runcornandwidnesweeklynews)

Workers were at risk of falling up to four metres through holes in the floors and partly demolished staircase.

No welfare facilities had been provided and there was a significant risk of fire with the workers not being able to escape.

The court heard that two days before the sentencing hearing, HSE had to return to the site and take further action.

'Appalling conditions'

Mr Verrall-Withers added: "Instead of taking the support and advice provided by HSE, Mr Sivaneswaran continued to let the workers operate in appalling conditions where they were at risk of being killed.

"He did not even provide them with a WC or washing facilities."

Sivaneswaran pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) and 4(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM).

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