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4th August 2017

Director jailed over balcony deaths

A director has been jailed and his refit company fined more than £1m after two workers fell to their deaths as they hauled a heavy sofa into a luxury west London flat.

Prison Sentence

Martin Gutaj has been sentenced to 14 months in prison and disqualified from being a company director for four years. He was found guilty of breaching 2 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work (HSW) Act at London’s Old Bailey on 19 May.

Gutaj’s company, Martinisation London, was fined £1.2m after being previously convicted of two counts of corporate manslaughter and two breaches of s2(1) of the HSW Act. Polish nationals Tomasz Procko, 22, and Kyrol Szymanski, 29, were part of a team of five workers that was renovating the flat in Belgravia. On 21 November 2013, they used a rope to lift the 115kg sofa from the pavement and over a balustrade because it was too big to be carried up the stairs. The 130-year-old balcony railing gave way and both men fell. Procko was pronounced dead at the scene while Szymanski died in hospital.

No Safe System of Work

The workers had not been provided with a plan, risk assessment or method statement for the lifting work. Advice from a reputable lifting company was ignored because the project was running late. The BBC reported that the sofa could have been safely moved into the flat in an elevator that would have cost £848 but Gutaj rejected the recommendation because his workers “do not have time for all that”. Martinisations’s turnover was £9.7m before it went into liquidation in August 2016.

Neglect of Basics Health & Safety

Nick Vamos from the Crown Prosecution Service said previously that “the evidence put forward by the prosecution clearly demonstrated […] how these tragic deaths were part of a pattern of serious neglect of basic health and safety”.

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