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HEALTHCARE FIRMS FATAL CONSTRUCTION VENTURE

Judge imposes £250k fines/costs after fall from clearly dangerous scaffold  

TRU Ltd has been fined £170,000 for serious safety failings following the death of a worker who fell some 6m from scaffolding in November 2009. Peter Winchurch, a joiner, was hired to help build an extension to a semi-detached house in Skelmersdale when the incident happened on 9 November 2009.

During a five-day trial at Liverpool Crown Court, the jury heard that TRU specialises in providing rehabilitation for people with brain injuries, and that the company also “took on some building projects”.

Mr Winchurch, aged 68, was working on the roof trusses for the extension to the house when he fell from the scaffolding. He suffered critical head injuries and died in hospital the following day.

The fall was the result of a lack of guard rails and inadequate decking. In addition, site employees were not trained in safety, there were no risk assessments and method statements.

Fatal fall was highly foreseeable

TRU Ltd, which now trades as TRU (Transitional Rehabilitation Unit) Ltd, was found guilty of two separate breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company, of Haydock, was fined £170,000 and ordered to pay a further £82,145 in prosecution costs on 22 November 2013.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Anthony Polec said:

“The failings by TRU Ltd were a significant cause of Mr Winchurch’s tragic death.

The scaffolding was clearly dangerous, which meant that the risk of a worker being killed or seriously injured in a fall was highly foreseeable.

The safeguards required were reasonably practicable, and there is much published guidance on the subject from HSE and the construction industry.”

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