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Health and safety charge architect will not face further punishment

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An architect who was fined £500 and ordered to pay £1,000 costs following a health and safety prosecution, yesterday escaped any further punishment from the ARB Professional Conduct Committee (PCC).

In May 2004, Neil Vesma, of Gloucester, pleaded guilty to a single charge at the city's magistrates' court after failing to specify that blocks being used for a factory extension were heavier than the 20kg limit for manual handling.

The court heard that construction workers suffered 'aching backs' at the site in October 2001, as they had not been informed that the big blocks they were using to build a wall were heavier than the maximum for manual handling and shouldn't be carried by hand.

Vesma was found to be in breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994.

However, the PCC announced today that there should be no further professional punishment of Vesma.

Committee chair Michael Williams said the incident occurred in 2001 and had taken two and a half years to reach court, then a further 18 months before the committee hearing. The time taken, he said, caused Vesma 'distress'.

He continued: 'We recognise Mr Vesma does have a sense of grievance, as he appears to be the only person who had proceedings against him.

'We are satisfied he appreciates his responsibility to ensure those at the bottom of the pile are protected. He realises he has a responsibility to design out heavy blocks.'

Vesma's legal representative, John Williams, said his client had written to the Health and Safety Executive to ask whether the contractors would also be prosecuted and was told no one else would be.

Afterwards he had volunteered to attend a refresher course, coming second in the final assessment.

'The case has affected him significantly and continues to cast a long shadow over his professional life,' the lawyer added.

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