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Maintenance worker killed in skylight fall

20 Dec 12 Two Hull firms and a company director have been sentenced for safety failings relating to the death of a worker who fell through a fragile rooflight while cleaning gutters.

The skylight that Kevin Jackson fell through
The skylight that Kevin Jackson fell through

Kevin Jackson, a father of five, suffered multiple injuries including several fractures of his skull, 15 broken ribs and severe damage to his lungs and other internal organs. He died in hospital the same day.

The Health & Safety Executive prosecuted director Shaun Cavill, his company Cavill Property Maintenance Ltd, and Garthwest Ltd, after investigating the incident on 29 October 2009.

Hull Crown Court was told that Mr Jackson and a colleague had been hired by Cavills and director Shaun Cavill to clean the gutters and roof of Garthwest's factory in the city.

The workers were not given any safety equipment, no protection measures were provided to reduce the risk of falling, and neither man had been trained to work safely at height.

Mr Jackson was on the roof working when his colleague heard a crash and turned to see him fall through a fragile factory rooflight to the concrete floor more than eight metres below.

The HSE served a prohibition notice on both companies after the incident preventing any further work at height on the site. A subsequent investigation found a series of serious safety failings:

  • No controls, eg boards or staging, were used to work from to prevent workers stepping on to a fragile service
  • No controls, such as crash decks, were provided to reduce the distance of a fall if one happened
  • No risk assessment was carried out
  • No edge protection was provided on the roof
  • No instructions were given by either company to the workers about how to carry out the work safely.

Cavill Property Maintenance Ltd of The Spinney, Kingswood Park, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £65,000.

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Garthwest Ltd, of Sutton Fields Industrial Estate, was fined £50,000 with costs of £19,300 after also admitting breaching Section 3(1) of the same Act.

Shaun Cavill, of The Spinney, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37(1) of the same Act by virtue of his negligence as an individual director. He was fined £25,000.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Mark Welsh said: "All three parties in this case have contributed to the tragic loss of life of a loving husband, father and grandfather. It was an incident that was wholly preventable if obvious and sensible controls and safeguards had been put in place.

"Cavill Property Maintenance Ltd should have had safe working practices and provided safety equipment to ensure the workers were not put at risk, but the firm neglected its duty of care. Shaun Cavill took on the contract for the work and it was his responsibility to ensure his company put safety measures in place.

"Garthwest Ltd, where the incident happened, should have followed their own safety procedures but did not do so. They failed to assess the competency of the company they hired and didn't ask for their risk assessment. Nor did they supervise the work or carry out any checks on what safety equipment was being used - which was none.

"Unsafe work at height on fragile roofs is a regular occurrence within many industries and is a major cause of death and serious injury. HSE will not hesitate to bring legal action against companies and individuals who fall so dangerously below accepted safety standards."

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