Roofing firm receives fine for apprentice death

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The death of a 16-year-old labourer has resulted in a hefty fine for a London based roofing company for failing to ensure health and safety measures…

Enfield-based Rooftop Rooms Ltd has been fined £325,000 for failing to ensure an apprentice under their care was safe when working. The firm, which pleaded guilty to the charges levelled against it, was also ordered to pay costs of £12,187.78 and health and safety charges of £7,334.84.

The case was brought before Snaresbrook Crown Court and involved the death of a 16-year-old apprentice, Alfie Perrin. On 14 November 2012 he was clearing rubbish and timber off-cuts from the rear roof area of a two-storey property. He did this by transferring them over the flat roof of the dormer extension and down the pitched roof at the front of the house. He was then instructed to throw the material into the skip on the ground below.

The flat dormer roof had no edge protection in place and there were large gaps in the scaffold platform where a ladder should have been fitted or scaffold poles used to reduce the risk of falls. However, neither of these safety measures were in place.

After throwing a bag of rubble from the scaffold platform into the skip, Mr Perrin fell, receiving significant head injuries, which subsequently caused his death.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Homicide and Major Crime Command worked alongside the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to investigate the incident. Charges were subsequently brought against the firm.

Rooftop Rooms Ltd admitted liability, pleading guilty to failure to discharge a duty imposed by Section 2(1) and Section 33(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. The firm also pleaded guilty to failing to protect Mr Perrin to risks to his health and safety.

Rooftop Rooms Ltd was ordered by Judge Martin Zeidman QC to pay £100,000 by 31 December, a further £100,000 by 31 December 2016, and the remaining balance by 31 December 2017.

He said: “I am pleased that the directors of the company Colin Allison and Gary Smith are here because there are things they need to hear – the bottom line is that Rooftop Rooms has behaved very badly.

“Rooftop Rooms has caused the death of a 16-year-old apprentice, Alfie, now obviously no one intended that to happen – that’s why it’s not murder or manslaughter – but the company does deserve to be punished.”

The judge said concerns regarding throwing waste material from height into skips without a shoot—known as bombing—had been raised with the firm previously, which led him disregard the assertion it had been a “remote” case.

“I regard it as a significant aggravating factor that there has been previous complaints of bombing – the fact it didn’t lead to conviction doesn’t dilute the significance of the point – knowing that it happened, management should have taken steps to make sure it was not repeated.

“The message is this – those who employ young people have a duty to ensure particular care to deal with youngsters.

“They may be anxious to please and it may make them less able to assess risk. They may find it hard to refuse to take on a dangerous activity – no young person wants to appear a wimp and so they shouldn’t be put in that position.”

Andrew Voy, an employee of the company, was found not guilty of manslaughter at the same court earlier in the year.

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