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CORONER HEARS OF LOFT CONVERSION FALL

Inquest told how builder fell to his death fitting loft window

An inquest jury in Newcastle has heared how, in October 2008, builder Dennis Hunter fell 10m from a roof whilst fitting windows on a loft conversion project. The jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

The jury heard there were no safety measures in place to prevent the 57 year-old builder falling to his death. Mr Hunter had been subcontracted by North East Lofts to fit windows when he fell onto a concrete patio below. 

HSE Inspector Jonathan Wills told the Inquest: “The recommendation from the manufacturer was to fit the windows working from inside the roof. If the windows were to be fitted from the outside, we class it as long-duration work. The guidelines state there should be some sort of edge protection, scaffolding along the gutter.”

After the inquest Mr Wills added: “Roof work remains one of the most dangerous activities in the industry, as this case highlights.”

Comment: The proportion of fatalities on smaller projects of this kind is increasing. The deaths occur on both commmercial work and where builders work for direct to homeowners undertaking extensions and repairs. HSE has recently recruited new inspectors with construction experience who will be focussing on work of this nature in the coming months. A cultural change is required in this sector.

Additional inspectors alone will not achieve this change. Clear, targeted and free guidance is also required. The major players in construction might also contribute by taking a lead in supporting the less sophsticated end of the market. This would also help improve the overall image of the industry.   

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