Preston Crown Court has fined a well-known toy distributor £200,000 and ordered them to pay £10,483 in costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
Additionally, the court sentenced a builder to a 6 month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, after being found guilty of a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into how a 39 year old man from Fleetwood fell approximately nine metres through a fragile roof panel has highlighted significant health and safety failings.
The toy distributor employed a local builder to clear debris from the guttering on the roof of the 36,000 square foot warehouse.
The HSE told the court that the toy firm failed to check if the builder was qualified to carry out the work. The builder and an assistant did not plan or prepare for the work and did not use any safety equipment. The assistant fell through the roof and onto a concrete floor. He died of his injuries at the scene.
After the case was heard, Allen Shute from the HSE said:
“[The assistant] should never have been allowed onto the warehouse roof without being given suitable training and equipment, but both [the toy distributor] and [the builder] allowed his life to be put in danger.
“[The toy firm] hired [the builder] to carry out the work despite him not having any previous experience of working on industrial roofs. The firm should have carried out checks to make sure the work would be carried out safely.
“[The builder] also had a legal duty to make sure the right equipment was used for the job, whether it was using harnesses or simply placing covers over the fragile roof panels to remove the risk of them collapsing.
“Sadly incidents of workers falling through warehouse roofs are all too common, and it is vital firms do more to make sure this kind of work is carried out safely and by competent people.”
For further information working safely at heights click here.