Henry Robertson Ronald Brown, director of RBWC – Ronnie Brown Window Cleaners – last year admitted that he had allowed two of his employees to work from a ledge 45cm wide, five metres from ground level, without any equipment which could prevent a fall.
At the same time, he permitted another employee to work in Burrard Street site with one foot on the rung of a ladder, while he was stretching to clean a window.
The case came less than six years after the businessman was allegedly caught working at height in an unsafe way outside a St Helier gym and was warned to improve his practices.
Crown Advocate Chris Baglin, prosecuting, yesterday told the Royal Court that the matter was first brought to the attention of the Health and Safety Inspectorate by a member of the public who had photographed the incident.
But according to Crown Advocate Baglin, the woman had seen members of staff working in a similar way three or four times previously.
He added that the working practices had also put members of the public at risk as there were no barriers, cones or other objects put in place to separate pedestrians and traffic from falling workers or objects.
After the complaint was made, Michael Cayless, a health and safety inspector, visited the Burrard Street business where the offence occurred and discovered the windows were of a ‘tilt and turn’ design, which could be cleaned from inside and that Mr Brown had even been given a key to allow him to do this if the premises were closed.
The court heard that the defendant had fallen through a window in June last year – sustaining a serious laceration on his leg which required surgery.
Advocate Nicholas Mière, defending, said his client had immediately taken action following the incident and had bought a new ‘reach-and-wash’ pole system and van, allowing employees to work from the ground. This had cost him £30,000 – a large portion of his annual turnover.
He added that his client now turned away any work where this new system could not be used, had become ‘risk averse’ and regretted not having implemented the changes sooner.
In sentencing, the Bailiff, Timothy Le Cocq, said that Mr Brown’s working practices had fallen ‘substantially short’, that he was in serious breach of the law and it was fortunate no one had been injured.
‘You have not taken any steps to correct your conduct from 2014 but we have noted the significant amount you have invested in the reach-and- wash system,’ he said.
‘Although we cannot disregard the 2014 incident, the court also recognises that you have no previous convictions.’
Brown was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs.
Jurats Charles Blampied and Elizabeth Dulake were sitting with the Bailiff.