Builder fined following fatal accident

A builder has been fined for failing to ensure the safety of one of his employees, who suffered a fatal accident. 

While carrying out construction work in Alne, North Yorkshire, Derek Wensley, a self- employed labourer working for Peter Wright (trading as PW Joinery and Building Services) fell from an unsecured stepladder while travelling from the ground to the first floor of a two storey extension. 

Teeside Crown Court heard the stepladder was too short to reach the first floor, which was accessed by passing through a gap in the flooring between joists. Mr Wensley was carrying a bucket of mortar at the time he fell. He suffered fatal head injuries. 

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuting told the hearing the incident could easily have been avoided. It said Peter Wright had not carried out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and failed to plan and supervise work at height appropriately.

HSE told the court that had he done so he would have identified failings in the standard of access to and from the first floor and ensured that a safe system of work was implemented. His failure to comply with his legal duty of care to those working on site led to the worker suffering fatal injuries. 

Mr Wright pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to a single charge of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. 

Peter Wright trading as PW Joinery and Building Services of West End Cottage, Baldersby, Thirsk, was fined £10,000 with £19,000 costs. 

HSE inspector Yolande Burns-Sleightholme said after the hearing: “The failure by Mr Wright to comply with his legal duty of care to those working on site led to this worker suffering fatal injuries. The potential for this was always present. 

“All employers need to ensure that risks from height are fully considered. HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those who fall so far below the required standards”

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement 
  2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at: 
  3. HSE news releases are available at

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