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SCAFFOLDING FIRM FAILED TO MANAGE ROOFLIGHT RISK

Labourer in fatal fall through rooflight during scaffold striking

S&S Scaffolding Ltd has been ordered to pay more than £100,000 in fines and costs following the death of a workman who fell 13m through the roof of a Merseyside warehouse in December 2010. Tony Causby, 42, was helping to dismantle scaffolding when he stepped onto a fragile rooflight and fell to the floor below.

Liverpool Crown Court heard Mr Causby was involved in erecting the scaffolding at the end of October ahead of work to replace damaged cladding and guttering on the roof. He returned to the site on 14 December as part of the dismantling team, although he was employed by S&S Scaffolding as a labourer rather than a scaffolder.

Mr Causby returned to the roof with another labourer after a lunch break when he stepped on the skylight, which broke and gave way. He was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The court was heard there were some 80 fragile skylights on one half of the roof. However, the company failed to arrange for load bearing covers to be put over skylights nearest to where persons were working.

Firm fully aware of the dangers

S&S Scaffolding Ltd pleaded guilty to single breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company, of Arley Way in Atherton, Greater Manchester, was fined £75,000 and ordered to pay £31,517 in prosecution costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Jacqueline Western said:

“Mr Causby died because S&S Scaffolding didn’t do enough to protect him from the risks of working at height, despite being a specialist scaffolding firm and being fully aware of the dangers of falls.

It would have been relatively easy to cover the fragile skylights near to where the employees were working to prevent anyone from falling through if they accidentally stepped on one.

Alternatively, netting or crash mats could have been provided under the skylights to reduce the chance of a worker being injured if they fell. Sadly, none of these options were chosen by S&S Scaffolding and Mr Causby lost his life as a result.”

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