Anglian Water fined over safety breaches

ANGLIAN Water has been ordered to pay nearly £5,000 in fines and costs after admitting a string of safety breaches by contractors carrying out roadworks for them.

ANGLIAN Water has been ordered to pay nearly £5,000 in fines and costs after admitting a string of safety breaches by contractors carrying out roadworks for them.

Magistrates in Ipswich imposed the penalties after hearing that a Suffolk County Council inspector had spotted contractors working at two locations who had not put up safety barriers or signs.

In addition the inspector saw power tools including road breaking equipment being used in an area that was not fenced off from passing pedestrians or motorists.

Prosecutor Diana Infanti said the charges related to two sets of roadworks which were both observed by the same inspector last year.

In Claydon on July 27, the inspector saw two vehicles and employees of a company sub-contracted by Anglian Water as they worked at an excavation close to The Crown pub.

He said a van was parked on a restricted parking area marked by zigzag lines.

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Mrs Infanti said: “At no stage in the process did the operatives remove barriers and signs from the vehicle and place them around the excavation.”

She said that the inspector then telephoned the council to ask for a dangerous defect notice to be issued, and found that the licence to carry out the work had expired.

Two further charges related to an excavation in Pinecroft Way, Needham Market, which was observed on August 8, 2007.

The same inspector said that he saw boards placed in the middle of a footpath and said in his report that the signing and guarding around the works were wholly inadequate.

He also noticed that power cutting and breaking tools were being used with no precautions in place to stop pedestrians entering the area, and wet clay was being used to re-fill the excavation, in defiance of regulations.

Anglian Water pleaded guilty to two offences of failing to ensure roadworks were adequately guarded, and one offence of failing to re-instate the street in compliance with regulations, relating to the use of clay.

A further charge of failing to put up safety signs and barriers at a site in Lowestoft was dropped.

For Anglian Water, Paul Loughran said the faults were all on the part of contractors rather than the company's own employees but admitted the company was liable and had failed in its obligation to make sure contractors' work is up to required standards.

Presiding magistrate Mathew March ordered that the company pay fines of £1,500 and £750 for the two signing offences, and £1,000 for the offence of failing to reinstate the street correctly.

He also said the company should pay £1,250 towards the cost of the prosecution and a £15 victim surcharge.

Have you spotted roadworks being carried out in an unsafe way? Call the Evening Star newsdesk on 01473 324788 or e-mail starnews@eveningstar.co.uk

Suffolk County Council, which brought the prosecutions under the New Roads and Streetworks Act 1991, said it won't hesitate to pursue through the courts those firms which put people's safety at risk.

Guy McGregor, the council's highways portfolio holder, said: “Anglian Water employed subcontractors to carry out work on their behalf and it is incumbent on them to comply with all the regulatory requirements, not just for the sake of employees, but for people passing by on foot or by vehicle.

“We will not shy away from taking action if we feel it is right to do so and we hope statutory undertakers take note of our actions.

“We hope we don't have to take legal action again - but we won't hesitate to do so should the occasion arise.”