Roofing firm prosecuted over worker death

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A Yorkshire roofing firm has been found guilty of breaching health and safety regulations after a worker fell to his death…

Watershed (Roofing) Ltd and one of its Directors Steven John Derham have been prosecuted following an accident that led to the death of a worker.

Self-employed bricklayer Barry Tyson suffered fatal head injuries after falling through a fragile roof light. The 52-year-old man was refurbishing a flat roof at Aspin Park School, Knaresborough.

Watershed, a framework contractor for North Yorkshire County Council, employed Mr Tyson to carry out necessary work on the roof as part of a scheme to add insulation and re-felt it.

The incident, which occurred on the 16 August 2011, led to the death of Mr Tyson. He fell backwards through a fragile roof light and into a male toilet block two metres below. He was taken to hospital by air ambulance, but suffered severe injuries and later died.

The investigation carried out by the Health and Safety Executive found Watershed had prepared a construction phase plan. Within this document the firm stated before work started the plastic domes of the roof lights needed to be removed and the apertures boarded over to make them safe. However, when the roofers accessed the roof it was found the domes could not be easily removed.

The case was brought before Bradford Crown Court earlier this week. During the process the court heard the Director of Watershed had visited the site on the first day to ensure it had been set up correctly. During this time the difficulties removing the roof lights had been discussed with the workforce. It was decided that work should progress without covering them.

The firm pleaded guilty to breaching section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. An £80,000 fine was issued as well as costs of £39,381.32.

Derham pleaded guilty in his role of Director to breaching section 37 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £7,000.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Martin Hutton said: “Mr Tyson’s death was entirely preventable. The risks of falling through fragile materials are well known in industry and yet they remain an all-too-common occurrence.

“Control measures are often simple and cheap to install and companies must ensure they are put in place before workers are put at risk.

“Watershed and Mr Derham knew this but allowed work to continue without any protection measures. However, both defendants pleaded guilty at an early stage and have taken remedial action to prevent a recurrence.

“This case should also act as a reminder to Company Directors and Senior Managers of their responsibilities to workers, and that HSE will prosecute those who fail in their duty of care.

“Mr Tyson was a loving father, grand-father and husband and will be sadly missed by his family”

Information on working safely on fragile roofs can be found here: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/geis5.pdf

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