Safety failings lead to fines of more than £400,000 for three firms

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A worker falling from height has led to three companies receiving fines of more than £400,000 after health and safety failings were found

Fines totalling more than £400,000 have been given to three companies for health and safety failings.

The case was brought against Dengie Crops Ltd, Ernest Doe & Sons Ltd, and Balsham after a worker fell seven metres through a fragile roof he was replacing.

Agricultural machinery supplier Dengie Crops Ltd contracted Ernest Doe & Sons Ltd to help replace the roof. However, Ernest Doe & Sons Ltd did not have the correct experience to undertake the work so subcontracted it to Balsham (Buildings) Ltd. They discerned how the roof replacement should take place and subcontracted the job to Strong Clad Ltd.

Worker fell due to safety failings

The case, which was heard at Chelmsford Crown Court, revealed how Rafal Myslim fell on to a concrete floor after the asbestos sheeting gave way on the fragile roof. He hit a number of pipes on the way down and with no safety netting or other protective equipment suffered a haematoma on the brain.

A subsequent investigation found all three companies at fault for the incident, stating Ernest Doe & Sons were unable to act effectively as principal contractor because the firm had no experience in construction. This meant the company could not oversee plans produced by Balsham (Buildings) Ltd that highlighted the risk of a fall.

Furthermore, none of the firms involved put safety measures in place to protect from falls, relying instead on verbal briefings to workers to remind them where to step, as only 40 per cent of the roof did not have netting below.

All three firms pleaded guilty

Ernest Doe & sons Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching CDM Regulations. The firm was fined £360,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,000.

Balsham (Buildings) Ltd also pleaded guilty to safety breaches and received a fine £45,000, with costs of £7,000

Strong Clad Ltd was fined £7,000 after pleading guilty and was ordered to pay costs of £3,000.

Health and Safety Executive Inspector Adam Hills said: “The dangers of working on fragile roofs are well documented. Every year too many people are killed or seriously injured due to falls from height while carrying out this work.

“Work at height requires adequate planning, organisation and communication between all parties. This incident was entirely preventable and Mr Myslim is lucky to be alive.”

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