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Scaffolder plunged 11.5 m through fragile asbestos cement roof

Two contractors have been fined after a scaffolder fell through a foundry’s fragile roof and died from his injuries.

The victim was installing temporary scaffold guardrails on a corrugated asbestos cement roof ahead of a refurbishment project at Norton Aluminium’s site in Norton Canes, Staffordshire. 
 
He sustained fatal injuries when he fell 11.5 m on 19 September 2015. 
 
The worker’s employer, Stephen Brennan, was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for two years, and 180 hours of unpaid work after he admitted breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. He was also ordered to pay costs of £14,000 at Wolverhampton Crown Court. 
 
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said Brennan, trading as SB Scaffolding, had failed to ensure the safety of his employees in relation to the work on the roof. 
 
In addition the HSE found that Sandwell Roofing, the contractor overseeing the work, had failed to ensure that people not in its employment were not exposed to risks arising from work on the roof. 
 
Sandwell Roofing pleaded guilty to breaching s 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £41,125 and must also pay £33,000 in costs. 
 
HSE inspector Andrew Bowker said: “Falls through fragile roof materials remain one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities during construction work. These risks are well known, and the required control measures are well documented in both HSE and industry guidance. 
 
“This was a tragic and wholly avoidable accident that led to the death of a young man. This death could easily have been prevented if suitable safe systems of work had been in place.” 

 

Keeley Downey is acting deputy editor of IOSH Magazine. She is a former editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine

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