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DIRECTOR FAILED TO PREVENT DEATH OF BUILDING OWNER

Fatal fall through fragile plastic rooflight caused by failure of control

The director of a roofing company has been fined after a building owner, Trevor Hall, died when he fell 3.5 metres through a fragile roof light at premises he owned in Leicester on 8 March 2010.

Mr Hall had accessed the roof to observe Kristian Varnam, a director of Roofwise (UK) Ltd, whom he had asked to provide a quote for roof repairs. The roof comprised fragile asbestos cement sheets and clear plastic roof lights. 

The court heard that Mr Varnam took no reasonable or practicable steps to ensure his own safety or that of others going on to the roof. In addition, he had failed to inform the building occupiers of his intentions.

Defendant should have been aware of dangers and used appropriate equipment

Leicester Magistrates’ Court today, Kristian Varnam, of Saunderson Road, Stocking Farm Estate, Leicester, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 7(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was fined £3,500 with £2,742 costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Sam Russell said:

“This tragic incident was avoidable. As a professional roofing contractor, Mr Varnam should have been aware of the dangers and used appropriate equipment available to him, such as crawler boards, to safely carry out his assessment. Instead he put his own life in danger by his actions, and that of Mr Hall. In addition, no efforts were made to inform staff in the workplace below that people were on the fragile roof surface, or to put in place appropriate precautions for their safety.

Falls through fragile materials on roofs are still an all too common occurrence, often leading to serious injury or death. Working at height remains one of the biggest causes of workplace deaths, so it’s crucial that employers and individuals make sure work is properly planned, appropriately supervised and that sufficient measures are put in place to protect staff and members of the public from the risks.” 

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