HSE investigation finds safety protocols for working at heights were not in evidence… A director of a construction firm has been fined after the contractor he employed died after falling through a roof of a building in Penryn, Cornwall.
The accident victim was reroofing a section of a building at an industrial estate on 22 September 2008 when the fragile asbestos cement roof collapsed and the man fell eight metres. He was taken by ambulance to the local hospital but he died of his injuries later that day.
The subsequent HSE investigation into the accident found that the construction firm had failed in their duty to ensure the necessary safety protocols were in place for working at heights.
The case which was heard at Truro Crown Court, heard that the roof work had not been planned to take into account the risks of working on the fragile roof and there was no evidence of any fall prevention facilities like safety nets or crash deck platforms which might have lessened the impact of the fall.
HSE Inspector Jon Harris spoke after the hearing:
“The man’s death could have been prevented if the work had been planned properly and industry standards, such as providing netting, had been applied. The risks of working at heights are well-known and falls through fragile materials are the cause of one in five deaths in the construction industry.
“The construction firm had a duty of care to the contracted worker not to expose him to risk as far as was reasonably practical.
“The company should have employed a planning co-ordinator to develop a construction plan for this work and the project should have been overseen by someone with appropriate knowledge and experience.
“Safety nets are the industry recognised standard for this purpose and in this case were installed following the incident.”
The director pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was fined £2,500 and ordered to pay costs of £2,500 after the Judge took into account the fact that he was £1.5 million in debt and had an annual income of £15,000.