£200,000 fine after worker falls to his death

A goods distribution company and a builder have been sentenced after a worker plunged through a warehouse roof, to his death.

The builder had been contracted by the company to clear debris from gutters at the company’s warehouse and the worker, who was assisting the builder in this task, fell through a fragile plastic roof panel nine metres to the concrete floor below. He died at the scene.

During their investigation, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company did not check on the competency of the builder and the job was carried out
without any preparation or planning in advance of the work.

The HSE also found that no harnesses or other safety equipment was being used to keep them safe.

Both the company and builder were prosecuted by the HSE, with the company being fined £200,000 after admitting a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act, by failing to ensure the health and safety of the worker.

The company was also ordered to pay more than £10,000 towards the costs of the prosecution.

The builder denied breaching the Work at Height Regulations by failing to ensure the work was carried out safely, but was found guilty and given a six months prison sentence,
suspended for a year.

After the hearing, an HSE inspector said

“[The worker] should never have been allowed onto the warehouse roof without being given suitable training and equipment, but both [the company and the builder] allowed [the worker’s life] to be put in danger.

[The company hired the builder] to carry out the work despite him not having any previous experience of working on industrial roofs. The company 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.

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