Local firm fined after deadly working at height accident

Posted on 13th Jan, 2012 | By Lorretta Tatham

A firm in Greater Manchester has been fined £145,000 when an employee fell ten metres through a fragile roof onto a concrete floor, and died two years later from his injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive fined the company for insufficient safety measures to prevent Alan Kerwin from falling while replacing a warehouse skylight in Ashton-under-Lyne.

The father-of-one from near Salford was seriously injured in the fall with a fractured skull, Manchester Crown Court heard.

As a result of the incident, which occurred in 2007, the 32-year-old developed post-traumatic epilepsy and never worked again until he died from an epileptic seizure in 2009.

The company received advice from HSE just a week before the incident, which would could have prevented Mr Kerwin’s death, with information on safely managing work on fragile roofs.

Mr Kerwin fell after he placed his weight on delicate cement, which surrounded the roof.

A working at height risk assessment was not carried out and no safety measures were put in place to protect him.

The company admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and it was ordered to pay an additional £7,700 as well as the fine on October 2011.

The HSE said: “This is a tragic case in which someone has lost their father as a result of an entirely avoidable incident.

“Mr Kerwin was allowed to walk across a roof without anything in place to stop him falling.”

The incident clearly illustrates an important point – that working at height training is not just important it is essential.

Companies and workers must take care to ensure everyone following the guidelines of the HSE and to make sure all necessary precautions are taken at all times.

Working at height is dangerous, but accidents are nearly always avoidable.

Browns Ladders offers working at height courses, including ladder training, work platform training, and roof training.

The responsibility is on every employer, the self-employed and any person who controls the work of others involved in Work at Height, to ensure the Health, Safety and Welfare at work of all his/her employee’s. The employer must ensure:

– Providing plant and equipment is safe and maintained

– Arranging for the plant or equipment to be handled, stored and transported without risking injury or the health of employees

– To provide information, instruction and training to use the equipment safely.

– Maintaining a safe working environment where the equipment will be used.

– Making arrangements of facilities for the employee’s welfare at work.

A person can be injured when falling from any height above floor level but with correct training and regular equipment inspections these incidents can be prevented.

More than 4,000 employees a year suffer major injuries after falling from height at work. Some are killed.

For working at height training, ladder safety training or working at height courses, visit the training section.

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