A Lancashire-based toy distributor and a builder have been sentenced after a worker plunged to his death through a warehouse roof.
Craig Gray, 39, from Fleetwood, had been helping to clear debris from the roof when he fell nine metres through a fragile plastic panel at Halsall Toys Europe Ltd on 19 July 2012.
The company and builder David Plant were both prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) today, 20 March 2015, after an investigation found no safety measures had been put in place to make sure the work could be carried out safely.
Preston Crown Court heard debris had been washing down the roof and into the gutters, causing them to overflow into the warehouse below. Halsall Toys had arranged with Mr Plant, an unemployed builder, for the roof cleaning work to be done, but did not carry out any checks to make sure he was competent.
Mr Plant and Craig Gray climbed onto the roof, which covers 36,000 square feet, without any preparation work or planning having taken place in advance. They failed to use harnesses or any other equipment to keep them safe.
The men were four days into the project when Mr Gray stood on one of the clear panels, designed to let in light, which gave way sending him nine metres to the concrete floor below. He died at the scene.
Halsall Toys Europe Ltd pleaded guilty to a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of Mr Gray. The company, of Copse Road in Fleetwood, was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £10,483 towards the cost of the prosecution.
David Plant, 60, of Shetland Road in Blackpool, was given a 6 month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, after being found guilty of a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 by failing to make sure the work was carried out safely.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Allen Shute said:
“Craig Gray should never have been allowed onto the warehouse roof without being given suitable training and equipment, but both Halsall Toys and David Plant allowed his life to be put in danger.
“Halsall Toys hired Mr Plant to carry out the work despite him not having any previous experience of working on industrial roofs. The firm should have carried out checks to make sure the work would be carried out safely.
“Mr Plant also had a legal duty to make sure the right equipment was used for the job, whether it was using harnesses or simply placing covers over the fragile roof panels to remove the risk of them collapsing.
“Sadly incidents of workers falling through warehouse roofs are all too common, and it’s vital firms do more to make sure this kind of work is carried out safely and by competent people.”
More information on working safely at height is available at www.hse.gov.uk/falls.
Notes to Editors:
- The Health and Safety Executive 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. www.hse.gov.uk
- Regulation 9(2) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: “Where it is not reasonably practicable to carry out work safely and under appropriate ergonomic conditions without passing across or near, or working on, from or near, a fragile surface, every employer shall ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that suitable and sufficient platforms, coverings, guard rails or similar means of support or protection are provided and used so that any foreseeable loading is supported by such supports or borne by such protection; where a risk of a person at work falling remains despite the measures taken under the preceding provisions of this regulation, take suitable and sufficient measures to minimise the distances and consequences of his fall.”
- Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”