Fatal fall from height

19th September 2016 Posted in Blogs

Introduction

• Two roofing companies and a director of one of the companies were recently sentenced for health and safety offences after a worker fell to his death through a skylight.

• This case came before Cardiff Crown Court after Lance Davies died after falling over seven metres through a roof light at industrial premises in Crumlin, South Wales.

Background

The incident occurred on 15th December 2011 and the investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident found that the work at height on the roof was not properly planned, managed or monitored. In addition, there were inadequate control measures in place to prevent a fall through the roof lights. 

Sentencing

SPAN Roofing Contractors Limited, of Sunnyside Road North, Weston Super Mare, North Somerset, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, and was fined £65,000 and ordered to pay costs of £37,500.

B & T Roofing Solutions Limited, of Arthur Street, Ystrad, Pentre, pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined a total of £20,000. 

Kristian Griffiths, of Arthur Street, Ystrad, Pentre, a director of B & T Roofing Solutions Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by virtue of Section 37 of the Health and Safety at work etc Act 1974, and was given a 160 hours community service order.

B & T Roofing Solutions and Kristian Griffiths were ordered to pay costs of £32,500 between them. 

Following the hearing, HSE Principal Inspector Paul Harvey said:

“Falls through fragile roof lights and roofs are one of the biggest causes of fatalities and serious injury in the construction industry. The issue is well known in the construction industry and there is plenty of guidance available.

“The tragic death of Mr Davies could easily have been avoided had the work been planned, managed and monitored effectively and simple and cost effective control measures put in place.”

SAFETY SMART COMMENT:

• This case occurred 5 years ago but has only been recently sentenced. Unfortunately, HSE investigations can be extremely lengthy, especially when there are multiple parties, issues and experts involved, as in this case.

• In addition, the down time spent dealing with the investigation and the associated stress and anxiety which results from the accident can be very costly to the business even before the company is handed down a substantial fine as was the case in this matter. 

• The reality is that when directors and managers are prosecuted under Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the courts can decide that if their “consent, connivance or neglect” in relation to the accident is so serious, then they can be sent to prison. 

• Even if the court decides not to do so, it can be a very anxious time for the individual waiting for the court to make a decision. Courts will often order a pre-sentence report to be prepared by the probation service to assist them when they are making the decision of whether to send an individual to prison. The sentencing court will frequently ask for an “all options open” report which includes all sentencing options including custody.


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