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    TWO DIRECTORS SENTENCED OVER FRAGILE ROOF FALL DEATH

    Teenager fell through fragile roof in absence of proper precautions

    Scotts of Whittington Ltd and directors Alfred Wood and Christopher Wood have been found guilty of failing to ensure the safety of teenage worker who died when he fell through a fibre cement roof.

    Employee Jamie Lee Duddin, aged 18, and a co-worker repairing farm barn roof lights at Heddon on the Wall, Northumberland, when the incident occurred on 23 July 2010.

    A two and a half week trial at Newcastle Crown Court (23 April – 9 May) heard that the teenager stood on a fibre cement roof sheet which failed under his weight causing him to fall 6m to the concrete floor below.

    Northumbria Police and the HSE investigators concluded that the work had not been properly planned, inadequate equipment was provided and the men were not properly trained or supervised.

    Work should be carried out from below using a safe working platform

    On 13th July 2012 Scotts of Whittington Ltd, based in Northumberland was fined £65,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

    Director Alfred Wood, 65, and his son and fellow director Christopher Wood pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) by virtue of Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. They were fined £13,000 and £2,000 respectively. In addition the defendants were ordered to pay combined court costs of £19,000.

    Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: ‘Where an offence under any of the relevant statutory provisions committed by a body corporate is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to have been attributable to any neglect on the part of, any director… he as well as the body corporate shall be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.’

    HSE Inspector Martin Smith, said:

    “This was a tragedy that could and should have been avoided. Instead a young man has lost his life as a result of collective failures including confusing instructions on how the work should be safely carried out, a lack of supervision and a failure to properly plan the work and provide adequate equipment.

    Falls through fragile roofs, often at agricultural premises, are a common cause of fatalities in the workplace. Maintenance to industrial roofs should ideally be carried out from below using a safe working platform. If access onto a fragile roof surface is unavoidable, then adequate working platforms should be provided on the roof slope with safety nets installed beneath.

    Alfred Wood was also prosecuted for a similar, but non-fatal incident, in 1998 when he was a partner in another company – so he in particular has no excuse for any failures to follow guidance on working at height.

    I hope all those involved in this kind of building repair work can learn from this and appreciate the high risk involved with work at height on fragile roofs. As this case shows, being aware of the risk is not enough to prevent it from happening.”

    Police aim for prevention and holding individuals to account

    The case against Scotts of Whittington Ltd, Alfred Wood and Christopher Wood was prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service. 

    Sentencing for the offences by virtue of HSW Act 1974 Section 37 follows the trial of Alfred Wood on a charge of manslaughter in May 2012. The trial was halted and the jury discharged after failing to reach a verdict.

    Northumbria Police Detective Inspector Gareth Craig, added:

    “This case follows an extensive joint investigation between the HSE, the Crown Prosecution Service and Northumbria Police into the tragic death of Jamie Duddin – a death we believe was entirely preventable.

    Our aim is to try and avoid anything like this from ever happening again and ensure any individuals who failed in their responsibilities are held accountable. Our sympathies continue to be with Jamie’s family who have been supportive throughout the investigation.”

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    One Response to “TWO DIRECTORS SENTENCED OVER FRAGILE ROOF FALL DEATH”

    1. HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE 19th SEPTEMBER 2012 | PP Construction Safety News Desk Says:

      […] TWO DIRECTORS SENTENCED OVER FRAGILE ROOF FALL DEATH […]