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Inadequate risk assessment let to fatal skylight plunge

7 Jul 11 A builder who died after falling through a skylight had no fall protection in place, a Helath & Safety Executive investigation has confirmed.

Carl Pearson, a 42-year-old father of two from Christchurch, fell approximately six metres while working on the fragile roof of a building on Wharfdale Road in Bournemouth on 1 December 2007. He died the following day

At Southampton Crown Court yesterday two firms and a company director were prosecuted for their role in the fatality.

Mr Pearson had been contracted by Bournemouth-based cladding company Cladcoat UK Ltd to replace damaged rooflights, as part of remedial works on the building. The court heard that Cladcoat had brought in Mr Pearson to carry out this part of the work as it did not have the necessary expertise.

Cladcoat had itself been contracted to carry out the roof work, as well as some external steel cladding work, by Bridport-based TRN Electrical Ltd, which had won the original contract for the project.

An HSE investigation found that whilst a risk assessment and method statement had been produced, these were inadequate. This resulted in Mr Pearson carrying out work on a fragile roof, with no means of fall prevention, or fall mitigation, in place.

TRN Electrical Ltd, of Cold Harbour Business park, Sherbourne, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the act and was fined £30,000, plus costs of £14,850.

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Cladcoat UK Ltd, of The Stables, Longham Business Centre, 168 Ringwood Road, Longham, also pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the act and was fined £10,000.

Jeremy Walton, Director of Cladcoat Ltd, pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 3(1) and 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was given a conditional discharge.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Frank Flannery said: "This was a wholly preventable incident in which a man in his prime - a father-of-two - lost his life. This incident was not the result of the actions of an individual; rather it is the result of collective failures.

"Had a suitable risk assessment been undertaken, for risks that were known to all parties, and a safe system of work established, this tragic incident would not have happened. The two companies involved, whilst being aware of the risks, did not fully understand their duties and responsibilities under the law.

"Whilst I welcome today's outcome, the fact remains that a man has unnecessarily lost his life.”

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