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OCCUPIER FINED OVER FRAGILE ROOF FATAL FALL

Maintenance work on fragile roofs under ‘confusing’ system of work

Cooper B-Line Limited from Somerset has been fined £210,000 after the death of a worker who fell through a factory roof skylight in May 2013.

Taunton Crown Court heard how maintenance worker Samuel Wright Maxwell, aged 46, had permission to go onto the roofs for various tasks and did so regularly without adequate and sufficient safety measures being in place.

Samuel was on the roof working when colleagues below heard a crash as Mr Maxwell fell through a skylight onto the concrete floor of the rack assembly area 7m below. He died shortly after the fall.

The roofs at CBL were extensive and people worked on them regularly, without proper precautions to prevent them falling.

HSE investigators found that the company management failed to appreciate the risks to their maintenance workers when working on the roofs. They had carried out an inadequate generic risk assessment, which failed to identify the risks and control measures necessary when employees were working at height.

Senior managers must learn from this tragic case

Cooper B-Line Limited, of Walrow Industrial Estate, Highbridge, Somerset, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £210,000 and ordered to pay costs of £36,493.52.

HSE Inspector Annette Walker said:

“The senior management of companies must learn from this tragic case that they need to take the health and safety of their workers seriously. In this case a confusing system of work had developed and unintentionally encouraged dangerous methods.

Falls from height continue to account for a significant proportion of all workplace deaths and serious injuries. Falls through fragile roofs and skylights sadly happen all too often. Businesses should ensure that all roof work including routine maintenance is properly planned and carried out safely.”

Mr Maxwell’s partner, Gwenaelle Ansquer said:

“Losing Sam in this way casts a huge black cloud over my life and the life of our daughter. Even now over three years later, I still feel like it happened yesterday. I have been waiting all that time for CBL to accept the responsibility for something that should never have happened. I wish that they had done that from the beginning. I cannot believe they ever tried to deny it”.

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