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CLIENT AND DESIGNER PROSECUTION

Building occupier and designer fined after fall through roof sheet

Removal and storage company Kelly’s Storage Ltd and Brian Graham, a self-employed engineer and draughtsman have been fined £11k following an incident in Guildford on 5 July 2005 when a workman carrying out roof repairs fell 5m through the roof. There was no system in place to prevent the workman falling or to mitigate the effect of the fall. He sustained a fractured hip and a broken elbow.

HSE inspector Abosede Ogunsekan said: “Kelly’s Storage Ltd had substantial influence and contractual control over how the project should have been run. Designers like Brian Graham should acknowledge the limitations of their competencies and experience and the impact their decision can have on other persons, and should not work in areas where they have no knowledge”.

Comment: It appears that no action was taken in respect of the employer of the workmen involved or against the workmen themselves as self-employed persons. HSE focused the legal action on the building occupier/client for the construction work and the designer. CDM 2007 makes prosecution of clients more likely, especially where offences occur during refurbishment of existing premises. A fall of 5m through a fragile roof will often result in a fatality. In such circumstances clients could find themselves subject to a police investigation regarding a possible Corporate Manslaughter offence.  

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