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Fri January 24 2020

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Fifteen months in jail for breaching height safety regs

5 Sep 14 The owner of a Kent scaffolding business has been jailed for 15 months for safety failings after a worker fell 14 metres to his death at a site in London.

The sentence, at Southwark Crown Court, will run concurrently with the unrelated life imprisonment imposed on Mark Anthony Hayes at the Old Bailey in July this year for the murder of his brother in a family feud.

The latest conviction is the third that Mark Hayes, 53, trading as WSS Scaffolding, has received for offences arising from the fatality of scaffolder Grant Dunmall at Linden Gardens in Notting Hill on 2 July 2012.

He was fined at two separate appearances at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in January and March last year for offences relating to the non-disclosure of essential documents to support a Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigation. When it was eventually supplied, the missing paperwork enabled HSE to conclude its enquiries, and highlighted that Mr Hayes could and should have done more to prevent the fall.

Southwark Crown Court was told that Mr Hayes from Eltham in southeast London, was responsible for a tower scaffold outside a domestic property. His employee, scaffolder Grant Dunmall, 25, from Hither Green, was working on the structure when he fell, sustaining fatal injuries. There was no edge protection and Mr Dunmall had no harness.

After a three-day trial at Southwark Crown Court, which concluded on Wednesday (3rd September), Mr Hayes was found guilty of a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 for failing to properly plan, supervise and carry out the work at height in a safe manner at the Notting Hill site.

Mr Hayes contested the case but was found guilty. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison for breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

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Last year, combined fines of £12,000 and costs of £5,601 were imposed on Mr Hayes after he admitted breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969. That hearing addressed Mr Hayes’ failure to provide legally-required documents relating to his management of work at height after he had earlier ignored a ‘notice to produce’ served by HSE.

HSE inspector Jack Wilby said after the sentencing: “The family and friends of Grant Dunmall have suffered enough heartache through the loss of their loved one without the additional stress of the convoluted legal process we have had to go through to secure justice.

“Our investigation into his tragic death was delayed for several months because of Mark Hayes’ total lack of co-operation in supporting our work. That had a knock-on impact in delaying the coroner’s inquest, and we had no option but to prosecute before he eventually provided the documentation we needed.

“His wilful obstruction only served to accentuate the fact that his systems and procedures for safely managing work at height were sorely lacking, and fell short of the standards expected from a competent scaffolder.

“The bottom line here is that Mr Dunmall was killed in a preventable fall that could have been avoided.”

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