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Lambeth Council hires firm that was fined £250k for failing to protect employee who died

By Grainne Cuffe, local democracy reporter

Lambeth Council has hired a firm that was fined £250,000 for failing to protect an employee, who died after breathing in toxic fumes.

T Brown Group recently started two new contracts with the council as part of an overhaul “in pursuit of better quality, socially responsible and digitally-driven” repair and maintenance services. 

Lambeth recently gave T Brown Group two contracts, domestic gas works and communal gas and water systems, worth £33.7 million and £13.5 million over six years.

In 2015, one of its employees Paul Tilcock was found dead by the owner of a house in Mitcham on the bathroom floor. The adhesive used to fix the flooring contained a large amount of toxic substance.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the Ewell-based company had not put any systems or procedures in plan to control the risks to employees working in an enclosed space with the toxic substance, dichloromethane.

The mask Mr Tilcok was wear was found to be completely ineffective against the fumes – the decision on what type of mask to wear had been left up to employees.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act at Westminster Magistrates’ court in 2019. It was fined a quarter of a million pounds.

The floor adhesive is no longer used following a safety review.

Asked whether the council had considered this tragic incident when awarding the contracts, a spokesperson said: “The safety of our everyone, including residents, and workers, is always our highest priority.  

“The highest safety standards were demanded during the negotiation of these contracts, and will continue to be demanded from all our contractors for the entire time that they will be working for Lambeth. 

 “The council’s procurement processes are rigorous in ensuring Health & Safety and Safeguarding requirements are evaluated at the highest possible safety standards.  

“An independent Performance Monitoring Board, which includes residents has been set up to review the performance of the new contractors on a regular basis to ensure they deliver on their obligations to the council and our residents.”  

Council bosses approved 10 new contracts in March worth £220m over six years. All the contracts began on July 12.

The council also can extend the contracts for a further four years, twice – if it chooses to.

T Brown Group has yet to respond to a request for comment.

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