Firm prosecuted for roof worker fall

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A firm has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive for breaching regulations after a worker fell to his death…

A Darwen firm has appeared in court after breaching health and safety regulations. Newhey Loft Conversions Limited were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an employee fell to his death.

Fifty-six year old Graham Readfern had been working on a loft conversion project when he fell and died in January 2012. An investigation revealed the scaffolding used to protect workers from falling while carrying out work on the roof was not sufficient.

Newhey Loft Conversions Limited had been contracted to carry out a large loft conversion on a property in Chorlton, Manchester. Mr Readfern, who was subcontracted by the firm, fell from the roof of a dormer conversion. However, he was not caught by the scaffolding, as it had not been built high enough to prevent a fall to the ground, which was around five metres below where he was working.

Minshull Street Crown Court heard that Mr Readfern had been carrying a roll of roofing felt when the ladder he was using collapsed. He was catapulted over the handrail of the scaffold into a neighbouring garden. Unfortunately, he died of his injuries 17 days later.

Newhey Loft Conversion Limited pleaded guilty to breaching two parts of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 as well as a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The firm was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £20,000 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Matt Greenly said: “This was a large loft conversion job which required the company to increase the height of the original roof to fit dormer windows, although the scaffolding was adequate for the start of the works, once the new and much higher dormer windows were built by Newhey, they should have increased the height of the scaffolding.

“This simple lack of attention to the progress of the works led to Mr Readfern working outside of the safety provided by the original scaffold and sadly suffering a fall which resulted in his death.

“It is clear that had Newhey simply raised the scaffold height, at a cost of only a few hundred pounds, Mr Readfern would never have suffered a fall of this scale and would more than likely still be with his family and friends to this day.

“This simple lack of thought has cost a man his life and a family their father, husband, granddad and friend.

“Falls from height are a major cause of serious and fatal injuries in the construction industry so it’s vital firms take the risks seriously. Proper planning is key to ensuring these well-known risks are well managed.”

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