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CLIENT FINED OVER £1/4M AFTER FRAGILE FALL DEATH

Warehouse roof cleaning operations ended in death of contractor employee

Tullis Russell Papermaker Ltd has been fined £260,000 after the employee of a contractor fell almost 16m through a fragile roof to his death. Mr Thomas Sturrock was part of a contractors team cleaning the roof at the firms warehouse in Markinch, Fife, on 29 September 2008.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching HSW Act Section 3. Prosecution of the contractor involved remains under consideration by the Health and Safety Division of Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court heard that Mr Sturrock’s co-workers on the roof heard a “cracking sound” before becoming aware that Mr Sturrock had fallen through the roof.

Workers in the warehouse below also heard a loud noise and saw that Mr Sturrock had fallen through the roof to the concrete floor below. A post mortem established that Mr Sturrock would have died immediately following the fall.

Client failed in management arrangements

HSE investigators found that when client Tullis Russell Papermakers instructed the contractor to carry out the cleaning work, it failed to make sure the work was properly planned and organised, and when the contractor’s employees were at work, they did not control, monitor and review the way the work was taking place.

The contractor had advised that the team would be using crawling boards on the fragile roof. However, boards were not used and workers accessed the roof by stepping onto it. The client failed to check work was proceeding as agreed. This was contrary to their own procedures stating that work carried out by contractors should be monitored daily.

Following the case, HSE Inspector Mac Young said:

“Thomas Sturrock might be alive today if simple safety measures had been put in place. If Tullis Russell had ensured the contractor’s activities were monitored then it is possible the incident with Mr Sturrock may have been prevented.

Tullis Russell Papermakers had a duty to ensure the safety of everyone on their site – whether working directly for them or not. Companies must make sure work contractors do for them is properly planned and organised, and monitor what actually happens when the work takes place.”

Comment

This prosecution provides further evidence that the new arrangements for handling health and safety cases in Scotland is generating more timely and proportionate results.

The reported facts suggest that a prosecution could have been taken under the CDM Regulations 2007 client management duty. However, where a death is involved prosecuting authorities usually proceed under the more serious HSW Act 1974 Sections 2 or 3 offences.

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One Response to “CLIENT FINED OVER £1/4M AFTER FRAGILE FALL DEATH”

  1. CONTRACTOR FINE FOLLOWS EARLIER CLIENT CONVICTION | PP Construction Safety News Desk Says:

    […] Act 1974 and Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. At an earlier hearing Tullis Russell, the owners of the site, were fined £260,000 in relation to the death of Mr […]