Leading m&e firms called to account

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has served Enforcement Notices on 14 construction firms following breaches of the Data Protection Act. Some organisations paid thousands of pounds to unfairly obtain personal information about construction workers.

The 14 companies include leading m&e firms Balfour Beatty Engineering Services, Emcor, NG Bailey, SES and SIAS Building Services.

David Smith, deputy information commissioner, said: “Fourteen firms paid for personal details about construction workers without those people knowing. The individuals were denied the opportunity of explaining or correcting what may have been inaccurate personal information about them and which could have jeopardised their employment prospects in the construction industry.

“We have used the maximum powers available to us and this enforcement action sends a strong signal that organisations must take the Data Protection Act seriously. Should the firms fail to adhere to the terms of the Notices they could face prosecution.”

The firms are:

Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering

Balfour Beatty Construction Northern

Balfour Beatty Construction Scottish & Southern

Balfour Beatty Engineering Services (HY)

Balfour Beatty Engineering Services

Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Services


Emcor Engineering Services

Emcor Rail


NG Bailey

Shepherd Engineering Services

SIAS Building Services

Whessoe Oil & Gas.

The enforcement action prevents the companies from using the personal data supplied to them by Ian Kerr, formerly of The Consulting Association (TCA). The firms will also need to ensure that if they obtain personal information about job applicants from third parties in the future they are completely open with those applicants about the process. It is a breach of the Data Protection Act to use personal data covertly to vet workers for employment.

An ICO investigation found that Ian Kerr of Droitwich, on behalf of the TCA, held details on 3,213 construction workers and traded their personal details for profit. At Kerr’s business premises the ICO seized copies of invoices to construction companies for services, including employment checks on individuals. On 16 July 2009 Ian Kerr was fined £5,000 for breaching the Data Protection Act and ordered to pay £1,187.20 costs.