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19th May 2015

Fatal Fall Leads to Double Prosecution

A roofer and a national timber supplier have been sentenced for serious safety breaches after a labourer plunged more than eight metres to his death at a site in Tottenham, north London.

An employee of Paul Hardy, was fatally injured on 22 May 2012 when he fell through a fragile roof at Howarth Timber’s site in Bruce Grove.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted both Leeds-based Howarth Timber and Paul Hardy, from Kent, after an investigation exposed dangerous failings in the planning and execution of the work.

Southwark Crown Court heard (18 May) that Howarth Timber had hired Paul Hardy to fix a leaking cement roof at the site. However, the company failed to check Mr Hardy’s competence before work began or properly assessed the risks associated with the job.

Paul Hardy didn’t plan the work adequately and failed to provide a risk assessment or method statement detailing how he would carry it out. Instead of making sure there was safe access to the roof, he provided an incorrectly-erected tower scaffold and an untied ladder. He also failed to provide a suitable working platform, covering or guardrails despite the work being carried out near a fragile roof.

Paul Hardy, of 46 Grosvenor Road, Belvedere, Kent, was sentenced to four months in prison suspended for 12 months and fined £3,000 with £11,756 in full costs after admitting breaching Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Howarth Timber Building Supplies of Prince Edward Works, Pontefract Lane, Leeds, was fined £93,750 and ordered to pay full costs of £12,580 for a breach Section 3(1) of the same Act. Both parties had pleaded guilty at earlier hearings.

The Investigating HSE inspector said:

“Falls through fragile roofs are sadly all too common but this tragic incident could have been avoided if adequate checks had been carried out on the contractor’s competence, the work been planned properly and carried out with the correct equipment.

“The dangers of working at height are well-known in the construction industry and guidance is widely available. The work here should ideally have been undertaken without the need to directly access the roof, for example by using a Mobile Elevated Working Platform, or, if that is not possible, with safety measures to minimise the risk of falling such as or netting, crawling boards and fall arrest harnesses.

“Falls from height continue to be the most common cause of fatality to workers and accounted for 29% of deaths reported to HSE in 2013/14 – meaning that 19 workers lost their lives in falls that were avoidable.”

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