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    CLIENT PROSECUTED AFTER FRAGILE FATALITY

    Fall through roof on client premises ends in death of workman

    K-Line Logistics (UK) Ltd, an international freight forwarding company, has been ordered to pay almost £20k in fines and prosecution costs following the death of a worker in Feltham, London.

    The workman fell 7m to his death through a fragile rooflight on 31 January 2007 when he was working on the roof to repair rooflights.

    He was untrained for such work and given only limited instruction before starting the job. He was one of a number of workers contracted to carry out repairs and the defendant failed to assess the competence of the contractors engaged.

    HSE Inspector, Owen Yorath, said: “This fatality was set in motion when K-Line Logistics UK Ltd contracted the job of replacing the warehouse roof lights but failed to plan, risk assess, supervise or ensure the competence of those they contracted to do the work.

    It is vital that employers take steps to assess the competence of those they contract to undertake work, and on their premises, particularly high risk work such as work on or around fragile roofs.”

    HSE point out that guidance was available setting out simple precautions to take and that the company failed to take these steps thereby contributing to the death of Mr Gibbs.

    Comment: The client in this case is fortunate that the death occurred prior to the CDM 2007 Regulations and Corporate Manslaughter Act coming into force in 2007 and 2008 respectively.

    These statutes place new and explicit duties on clients in respect of competence and management arrangements with massive financial and reputational risk.

    The hazard presented by work on or near fragile roofs and rooflights is well know and safe systems must be in place. Replacing rooflights from below is increasingly seen as the most cost effective option.

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