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DIRECTOR JAILED FOR 6 YEARS OVER ROOF FALL DEATH

Clear evidence that “quick profit” put before worker safety

The director of a demolition company has been jailed for gross negligence manslaughter after two of his employees fell from a roof on the same day.

Allan Thomson (born 20/08/1966) of Bonnybridge, Stirlingshire, was found guilty (3rd Feb 2016) of gross negligence manslaughter and on April 8th Mr Thompson was jailed was six years, fined £400,000 and was ordered to pay £55,000 court costs. His company Building and Dismantling Contractors Ltd was found guilty of offences under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act and for breaching Regulations 4 and 7 of the Work at Height Regulations.

Michael Smith (born 03/11/1963) of Rochdale and his company C. Smith and Sons (Rochdale) Ltd, were found guilty of offences under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act and for breaching both the CDM Regulations and Work at Height Regulations. Mr Smith was jailed for eight months, fined £90,000 and ordered to pay £45,000 court costs.

Remote demolition replaced by work at height

The court heard how C. Smith and Sons were contracted to demolish buildings in Stockport in 2014. It was originally planned that machinery would be used to remotely demolish the structure. This method would have entailed minimum risk to those workmen tasked with the demolition.

However, after winning the contract Mr Smith decided that the building would be dismantled “piece by piece” requiring work at height to remove the roof sheets prior to the structure being dismantled.

C. Smith and Sons subcontracted the work dismantling the roof to Allan Thompson’s company, Building and Dismantling Contractors Ltd, which is based in Scotland.

Near miss did not trigger action

On 15 January 2014, four men employed by Building and Dismantling Contractors Ltd travelled to Stockport to carry out the task of taking the roof apart.

This group included a 47-year-old man who would sustain life-changing injuries and 42-year-old Scott Harrower, who died as a result of the negligence of Thomson.

The roof comprised corrugated steel sheets and plastic skylights. The skylights had deteriorated over time and were subsequently covered with corrugated steel sheets in a bid to repair the damage.

On 20 January 2014, Mr Harrower stepped on a skylight but managed to prevent himself falling 30ft to the concrete floor below. Despite this “near miss” the men returned to carry out their work the next day.

At just after 9am on Tuesday 21 January 2014, one of the group, aged 47, fell through a skylight to the concrete floor below, fracturing his spine, pelvis, right leg, heel and wrist.

Ambulance and police attended the scene which was “deemed to be an accident” and after advice was given regarding the obligation to inform HSE the police officers left the scene.

Fatal fall “just hours” after serious injury

Despite their colleague suffering horrific injuries, the workmen men were ordered to return to the roof just hours later. At 4pm Scott Harrower fell through a skylight to the concrete below. He suffered catastrophic head injuries and died as a result.

Detective Chief Inspector Richard Eales said:

“It is clear from the evidence that both Smith and Thomson saw an opportunity to make a quick profit without any thought for the workers they sent on to the roof, and as a direct result of that greed Scott died and another man suffered life-changing injuries.

Smith and Thomson’s remorse did not then stretch to admitting their guilt, as both tried to hide behind their companies and refused to plead guilty to the charges levelled against them personally.

Thankfully, the jury saw through their attempts and both now can face justice for the decisions that they made, decisions that have robbed one family of a loving partner, father, and son, and another of a man’s ability to live a life untainted by severe physical injury.”

After the case, which was brought by the Crown Prosecution Service, HSE Inspector Sandra Tomlinson, said:

“Falls from height, and in particular falls involving fragile roofs, are one of the main causes of work-related deaths in Britain. The risks are therefore well-known and documented, as is the guidance on how to reduce these risks.

The roof dismantling works were not properly planned or supervised and adequate precautions, such as netting, were not put in place.

This led to two men falling in separate incidents and resulted in one man suffering life-changing injuries as well as the dreadful tragedy of Mr Harrower’s death.”

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