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MAJOR CLIENT PROSECUTED OVER CONTRACTOR DEATH

Large fine follows failure to ensure contractor planning and control

Allied Domecq Spirits and Wine Ltd, has been fined in excess of £1/4m following the death of a workman who fell 6m through a fragile rooflight. The contractor who employed the deceased man was also prosecuted and fined £26,667.

Robert Rogers, 61, was working for Ovenden Engineering which was contracted to repair a roof leak and clean the gutters at the Allied Domecq bonded Dover warehouse in November 2010.

Canterbury Crown Court was told that Mr Rogers was on the roof with a co-worker (his brother) when he fell through one of 80 skylights and landed on the concrete floor below. He suffered multiple injuries and died later in hospital.

HSE investigators identified failures by both defendants. The court heard there was no safety equipment in place for anyone working on the roof, which was itself fragile. The workmen were often working on the warehouse roof yet there were no crawling boards, scaffold boards, harnesses or nets to protect workers from the risks.

The court heard that Allied Domecq, as owners of the building, had responsibility for the site and should have ensured contractors planned their work and carried it out safely and that proper control measures were in place.

Safety responsibilities cannot be ‘contracted out’

Ovenden Engineering (Richard Parker T/A) of Folkestone, Kent was fined (18 June) £26,667 and ordered to pay £4,000 in costs after admitting breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Allied Domecq Spirits and Wine Ltd (CG Hibbert T/A) of West London, was fined £266,677 with costs of £10,752 after admitting breaching Section 3(1) of the same Act. Both defendants had entered guilty pleas at a hearing before Canterbury Magistrates in April.

After the sentencing hearing, HSE Inspector Guy Widdowson said:

“This is a tragic case in which a devoted husband, father and grandfather has lost his life whilst at work. It is sickening that such incidents happen despite the widespread industry knowledge of the risks of working at height and of working on fragile roofs with equally fragile skylights.

Mr Rogers’ death was entirely preventable. Mr Parker should have provided his workers with suitable equipment to work on the roof. He failed to do so.

Allied Domecq do not contract out their health and safety responsibilities just by contracting out a particular job. It was their duty to ensure there was a safe system of work before the job started and that their contractors followed agreed safe procedures. They too failed to do so.”

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