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Community service for manager after brickie’s fatal fall

6 Sep 13 A Lincolnshire house-building company has been fined £40,000 and a site manager sentenced to community service after a bricklayer fell to his death from dangerous scaffolding.

Justin Gillman, 26, of Holland Fen near Boston, Lincolnshire, died when he fell backwards from scaffolding while working on a housing development in Skegness on 26 February 2010.

Chestnut Homes Ltd and site manager Peter Tute were sentenced at Lincoln Crown Court yesterday (5 September 2013).

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) identified safety failings, including allowing untrained people to build scaffolding and failing to check it was safe for use.

The court was told that Mr Gillman and a workmate were told by Mr Tute to extend some scaffolding that was in use. Neither was qualified nor had any experience of erecting scaffolding. HSE inspectors established that Mr Tute left them to improvise and get on with it.

They built a scaffolding platform that had no guard and the structure was a different height to existing scaffolding on the rest of the plots. As such, it was unsafe and posed a clear risk.

However, according to the scaffold inspection record for the site, the whole scaffold was inspected on the day Mr Gillman died and was adjudged as being safe by Mr Tute.

On the day of the fatal fall, the weather was too poor for bricklaying so Mr Gillman and his colleague decided to load out the scaffolding with bricks for work the following Monday.

Having loaded out two sides of the scaffolding, Mr Gillman loaded a further band of 80 bricks on a trolley and pulled it backwards, past some guard rails that were raised out of the way, and up a makeshift ramp onto the scaffolding.

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Mr Gillman fell backwards from the end of the unsafe scaffold where there was no guard rail to prevent him falling. The band of bricks he was pulling landed on him, and he died at the scene of his injuries.

Chestnut Homes Ltd of Wragby Road, Langworth, Lincoln was fined £40,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Mr Peter Tute, 50, of Donington Park, Lincoln, was ordered to carry out 240 hours community service after pleading guilty to breaching Section 7(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Costs to be paid have yet to be determined.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE principal inspector Richard Lockwood said: "Before entrusting tasks to workers, principal contractors and site managers must ensure they are competent to do the task being given to them. There needs to be adequate control over scaffolding to ensure that it is and remains safe and fit for the purpose.

"Principal contractors must have robust systems that ensure that their policies and procedures are implemented properly on their sites."

The vitcim’s father, Alan Gillman, added: "If something positive can come from this case, and Justin's death, it's that I just hope people will be prepared to say 'no' to their employer if they're asked to do something they're not trained to do, or it wouldn't be safe for them to do."

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