Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We use cookies to personalise your experience; learn more in our Privacy and Cookie Policy. You can opt out of some cookies by adjusting your browser settings; see the cookie policy for details. By using this site, you agree to our use of cookies.

HSE in 'picking on profession' row

  • Comment

The case of Neil Vesma, an architect convicted earlier this month of breaching health and safety regulations, has sparked a series of angry responses from his supporters, who claim he has been seriously mistreated.

The RIBA was among those prompted into action after Vesma, of Gloucester-based Neil Vesma Architects, was fined £500 with £1,000 costs and ordered to take part in a planning supervisor course (AJ 3.6.04).

RIBA's Wessex region director Jane Pinnock said the prosecution and conviction were an example of the HSE's picking on the architecture profession. 'The HSE seems to be out for architects, ' she said.

Vesma admitted failing to warn bricklayers about the weight of blocks being used in one of his designs. However, he said he felt 'singled out' because he had not specified the blocks, which had been chosen by the contractor.

'I held my hand up to it but it seems unfair. Why was no action taken against the quantity surveyor and contractor?'

And John Heath, managing partner of safety specialist Morgan Safety Services, said Vesma's 'professional and honest approach in pleading guilty'made him an easy target.

It was 'beyond comprehension' the contractor could admit to choosing the blocks, allow his workmen to lift them and not find himself in court, he said.

'This prosecution appears to suggest designs must be specified to the absolute, with no leeway for the tendering contractor to offer alternatives in material or method.

'This is a very bad road to follow or be forced down. It suggests only the architect can be held responsible for design decisions, ' Heath added.

RIBA health and safety spokesman Tim Gough agreed that the court's findings were reason for concern, warning that they could trigger a new raft of guidance.

'It is worrying when a member is prosecuted this way and we want to issue advice, ' said Gough.

'Because it's a criminal prosecution it's unwise to comment until we have all the facts from the magistrates.'

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs

Discover architecture career opportunities. Search and apply online for your dream job.
Find out more