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Contractor fined £144k after roof fall

2 Sep 16 Hertfordshire construction firm Montway has been fined £144,000 after a Romanian labourer was seriously injured when he fell off a roof during demolition work.

The house in Golders Green
The house in Golders Green

Southwark Crown Court heard that on 25th February 2013 two workers were pulling apart the roof of a two-storey house in Golders Green in London.

One of them, Ioan Vancea, fell from the partly demolished roof and suffered serious injuries.  No scaffolding had been provided and the work was not being supervised.

Mr Vancea fell five metres to the ground and sustained a fractured spine. He was in an induced coma for two weeks and remained in hospital for three months.

Two weeks later, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) paid a visit and found that demolition work was still being carried out with no supervision and asbestos debris was piled by a neighbour’s hedge, mixed in with other waste. Enforcement notices were served.

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Montway Ltd of Batchworth House, Church Street, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £144,000 and ordered to pay £43,606.15 in costs.

The company originally pleaded not guilty, but changed its plea and sought a Newton hearing to determine numerous issues it disputed. The Newton hearing took place before District Judge Roscoe on 23rd and 24th May 2016.

HSE inspector Andrew Verrall-Withers said after the hearing: “Mr Vancea’s injuries were life changing and he could easily have been killed. This serious incident would have been avoided if scaffolding had been provided. Montway Ltd’s site documents even identified it was needed.”

He added: “Montway Ltd sought a Newton hearing so they could dispute numerous issues in front of a District Judge. They were unsuccessful and the Judge’s ruling confirmed she was satisfied that their approach towards the welfare of their employees was lax and casual, and it was their overall poor management of health and safety that directly led to this incident.”

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