Page 13 - IOSH Magazine March 2019
P. 13


        Rogue trader jailed over                                Govt accused of            It pledged to monitor a

        worker’s roof plunge                                    ‘turning a blind        voluntary hand car wash pilot
                                                                                        scheme now operating in the
                                                                eye’ to car wash        Midlands.
                                                                                           The Responsible Car Wash
        The owner of a roofing     to repair a section of guttering   worker abuse      Scheme was launched in
                                                                                        October by the Downstream
        company has been jailed    for £40, which was agreed.                           Fuel Association alongside
        after he failed to erect     He then told them he had to                        the Gangmasters and Labour
        scaffolding on a house in   survey the roof but failed to put   The UK government has rejected   Abuse Authority, the Health
        Surrey and then charged the   up scaffolding. One of his   calls for a trial licensing scheme   and Safety Executive, the Car
        elderly residents for repairs   labourers fell into the loft   to crack down on labour   Wash Association and other
        when a worker fell through   below, causing significant   exploitation at hand car washes.   government agencies. It has
        the roof.                  damage.                        Last November the House   support from Asda, Morrisons,
          John Thompson, trading as   Thompson’s bill for the   of Commons’ Environmental   Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose
        Thompson Roofing and       work included scaffolding,   Audit Committee published its   supermarkets as hand car
        Guttering, told the couple that   although he failed to provide it.  findings after an inquiry into the   washes operate on their
        the structure of their roof was   The HSE’s investigation   sector highlighted “shocking”   premises.
        to blame for the labourer’s fall.   found that several people were   safety violations. These included   Operators that sign up
        He claimed the battens and   at risk from the work being   the death of a worker housed in   to the scheme and pass an
        timbers were rotten and spaced   carried out because no    unsafe accommodation, cases of   accreditation audit will be
        too far apart and charged them   measures were in place to   trench foot, and chemical burns   able to display the responsible
        £7,200 for repairs.        prevent labourers falling.   from prolonged exposure to   car wash operator logo, which
          Neighbours alerted         An independent expert who   water and cleaning agents.  customers will associate with
        Buckinghamshire and Surrey   examined the roof on behalf of   To eliminate “widespread   businesses that look after their
        Trading Standards, whose   trading standards found the   and flagrant rule breaking” in   workers and trade legally.
        officers notified the Health and   hole was solely Thompson’s   the industry, the committee   The government said: “The
        Safety Executive (HSE) and this   fault and not due to structural   had recommended that the   [Responsible Car Wash Scheme]
        led to a joint prosecution.   defects. The expert was also   government trial a licensing   will be evaluated to allow us to
          Last year, Thompson      critical of the standard of   scheme encompassing all   more thoroughly test existing
        admitted breaching reg 6(3) of   repairs.               important areas of compliance   regulation and legislation in
        the Work at Height Regulations   Denise Turner-Stewart,   to create one easily enforceable   order to understand where the
        and pleaded guilty to fraud and   Surrey County Council’s cabinet   legal requirement.    gaps are and to help inform
        engaging in a misleading   member for community safety,   The government said in   future decisions, including
        commercial practice. He was   fire and resilience, said:   its response that, although   considering the scope for rolling
        jailed for two and a half years   “Rogue traders callously prey   licensing could be a “valuable   the scheme out more widely.”
        last month.                on the most vulnerable in our   tool” in stopping exploitation   Mary Creagh, who chairs the
          Guildford Crown Court was   society and our trading   and abuse, it favoured a   Environmental Audit Committee,
        told that Thompson had     standards officers work hard to   “voluntary pilot approach”.   said: “There is more to do on
        cold-called the couple, both of   bring them to justice and keep   It added: “Changes to the   tackling labour exploitation. This
        whom were in poor health, one   our communities safe. I would   current licensing regime should   should have been addressed by
        with dementia, at their home   like to thank the neighbours of   be informed by an assessment   adopting our recommendation
        near Leatherhead in March   this couple for their vigilance   of the full evidence to better   of a trial licensing scheme. It
        2017 after doing some work on   and for alerting us to their   understand the threat of   is disappointing that ministers
        a property nearby and offered   concerns.”              exploitation in different sectors   have opted for a pilot approach
                                                                and the full range of options   that is voluntary.
                                                                to tackle it, including the most   “With so few minimum
        blame on to the supervisor,   manager who reviewed its risk   appropriate regulatory approach.   wage prosecutions despite the
        Smith said.                assessment and implemented a   “The government believes   exploitation of workers being
          After the accident it hired a   safe system of work that included   that this can be better achieved   commonplace, the government
        qualified and experienced site   a crash deck and edge protection.   by a voluntary pilot approach   must send a strong message to
                                                                that brings together relevant   car wash operators that such
                                                                partners over a compulsory trial   practices are illegal and that it
          Sentencing guidelines application
                                                                licensing scheme.”      will not turn a blind eye.”
          Culpability:                              Medium
          Seriousness of harm risked:                Level A
          Likelihood of harm:                       Medium
          Harm category:                    1, moved up from 2
          Size of organisation:                     Medium
          Turnover:                                  £20.9m
          Starting point for fine:                 £540,000
                      Reduced to £450,000 before one-third discount for                                         © Gettyimages/iStockphoto/energyy
                                              early guilty plea
          Penalty:                   £300,000 plus costs of £17,528  Worker exploitation has been reported at some hand car washes

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