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CORPORATE MANSLAUGHTER: FIRM FINED £300,000

Scaffolding firm fined after worker died in fall through fragile roof

It has been reported by the Liverpool Echo that Kings Scaffolding Ltd of Netherley in Liverpool has been prosecuted for the offence of corporate manslaughter following the death of employee Adrian Smith, aged 43, who died when he fell through a rooflight on the roof of their offices on Merseyside in September 2012.

The court heard that Adrian had returned to work on light duties after having had a heart attack just two days before he died at work in September 2012. The company pleaded guilty to corporate manslaughter after failing to heed health and safety warnings or take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of employees tasked to carry out work on the roof of the company headquarters.

In the days prior to Mr Smith’s death, three men were seen on neighbouring CCTV working on the roof at various times. The men were carrying out repairs in preparation for a valuation on the property.

The Echo reports that a “hand-painted notice” inside the building read “Bad Roof” and that Adrian was asked to carry out the work by David King, son of the company director John King, who took a leading role in the running of Kings Scaffolding Ltd.

Thomas Copson, a worker inside the building below, heard footsteps on the roof and a cracking noise before Mr Smith fell more than 4m through the rooflight onto the concrete floor below.

Death entirely foreseeable

The court heard that Kings Scaffolding Ltd were previously convicted for health and safety breaches in 2002 when scaffolding defects led to a man suffering serious injuries and members of the public being put at risk.

Mr Justice Turner said that by imposing the £300,000 fine he balanced the need to punish the company against the risk of punishing innocent employees who would lose their jobs if the company went out of business.

Mr Justice Turner in sentencing said:

“By anyone’s standards this is a most tragic case. The death of a relatively young man leaving behind him a grieving widow, friends and family is something that the court must prioritise. These sort of cases are extremely difficult because whatever fine is imposed will never bring a victim back to life and whatever fine is imposed will never measure the value of the life of that person.

This death was entirely foreseeable. The state of this roof was well-known to management and the defendant company and the sort of precautions that ought to have been taken to prevent this man falling to his death were obvious. The whole business of setting about repairs to this roof was done without regard for the safety of those who were there.”

Detective Inspector Colin Rennison said:

“No amount of money can bring someone back. But I hope this will give the family of Mr Smith some form of closure and allow them to finally move on with their lives.”

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