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DISMANTLING OPERATION ENDS IN TRAGEDY

Young workman suffered life-changing injuries after 6m fall through roof 

DB Gibbons (Construction) Ltd of Bristol has been prosecuted after a workman fell 6m through a roof during dismantling operations on a farm near Bath in July 2008.

Richard Cooke, aged 26, suffered severe spinal and head injuries when he landed on a concrete floor after the roof sheeting he was standing on collapsed under his weight. Mr Cooke is now an incomplete paraplegic and requires the use of a wheelchair to move about.

Clive Pearce t/a CW Pearce of Martock pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Pearce was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £500 costs.

DB Gibbons (Construction) Ltd of Bristol pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £14,000 with £3,500 costs.

Project could have been completed without working on roof

HSE investigators found there were no safeguards in place to prevent Mr Cooke or his fellow worker falling through the roof, or from the edge of the building. The work could have been arranged without the need to go on the roof.

HSE inspector, Annette Walker, said:

“Mr Cooke is a young man who has suffered dreadful injuries as a result of this incident which could have resulted in his death. He and his family are still coming to terms with the lasting effects of what has happened yet this situation could so easily have been prevented.

Falls from height are one of the major causes of death and serious injury in the construction industry. The risks of working on or near fragile roofs are well known and the safety measures well established, but HSE continues to see tragic cases such as this where work is not suitably coordinated and planned to reduce risks.

There is a great deal of guidance freely available on the HSE website – there is no excuse for getting it wrong.”

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