Two Kent businesses fined thousands after worker’s death fall

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by Alex on July 11, 2013

Photo: mugley

A Kent-based contractor and a major drinks wholesaler were heavily fined after a 61-year-old-worker plunged to his death through a skylight.

A construction worker employed by the contractor was fixing a leak on the roof of a bonded warehouse in Dover owned by the wholesaler when a fragile skylight collapsed and he fell six metres onto a concrete floor. The worker suffered multiple injuries and died soon after the event, which occurred on November 16th 2010.

After an investigation, HSE prosecuted both companies. During a trial at Canterbury Crown Court in April, the jury was told how both defendants failed to provide adequate safety measures for repair workers. The contractor admitted that he had put no safety equipment in place, despite regular work by his employees on a fragile roof. The worker’s death ‘was entirely preventable’, according to HSE inspector Guy Widdowson. The contractor ‘should have provided his workers with suitable equipment to work on the roof. He failed to do so.’

The court determined that the drinks wholesaler, as owner of the site, did not fulfill their responsibility of ensuring suitable safety measures for contracted workers. The company “does not contract out their health and safety responsibilities just by contracting out a particular job”, said Widdowson. “It was their duty to ensure there was a safe system of work before the job started and that their contractors followed agreed safe procedures. They too failed to do so.”

The contractor was fined £26,667 with costs of £4,000 on June 18th after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, while the wholesaler was fined £266,677 with costs of £10,752 for breaching Section 3(1) of the same act.

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