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REFURB WORKER DIED FOLLOWING SHAFT FALL

Property company prosecuted over fatal fall in dumb waiter shaft 

It has been reported by the Sunderland Echo that property company, Durham Estates Ltd, has been fined £85,000 after a workman died following a shaft fall during renovation work at a former Masonic Temple in Sunderland. 

Kevin Shickle, aged 52, was a ‘handyman’ involved in conversion of a dining room and kitchen into a gymnasium and changing rooms. Newcastle Crown Court heard that he was given a “specification sheet” at the start the job which involved removing two dumb waiter systems..

The court heard that Mr Shickle began working on the project on October 4, 2010. It was on October 7 that a company director him trapped (but still alive) in a shaft 3m below ground level. Firefighters cut away part of the shaft before pulling him free. The fall resulted in significant injuries and a severe stroke which was the eventual cause of death.

The court was told that it remains unclear exactly how and why Mr Shickle fell.

Inadequately instructed and left to own devices

The company pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £85,000 and ordered to pay £12,000 prosecution costs.

Judge Goss is reported to have said: 

“Mr Shickle was inadequately instructed and inappropriately left to his own devices on this task. The failings giving rise to the offences were a significant cause of his death. The fine is not and cannot be any reflection of the value of the life of Kevin Shickle, a hard-working family man whose life was so tragically lost as a result of health and safety shortcomings.”

A spokesman for Durham Estates is reported to have said: 

“We are dismayed at the outcome, as we at Durham Estates still maintain this was a tragic accident that nobody could have foreseen. As a company, the safety of all our staff is paramount, and we take it very seriously. We still remain shocked over the loss of Kevin who was a valued member of our team.”

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