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Six-foot fall takes seven years to reach court

20 Mar A Kent building firm has eventually been fined £25,000, seven years after one of its tilers died from a six-foot fall.

The gap in the platform
The gap in the platform

Subcontractor Mark Tolley, 51, fell through an opening in a scaffold on 5th July 2017 while working for Amberley Homes on the construction of six houses in Headcorn, Kent.

He sustained several broken ribs and serious internal injuries including a punctured lung. He died eight days later.

Mr Tolley had been installing vertical hanging tiles on one of the new properties when he fell six feet (1.8 metres) through an unguarded opening in the scaffold and landed on the ground below.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that Amberley Homes (Kent) Ltd, the principal contractor for the project, had not appointed a person with the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and training to manage the construction site. The company had not ensured that a safe working platform on the scaffold was maintained throughout the different phases of the project. Access to and from the first lift working platform was unsafe as multiple openings had been made, and they could be there for several weeks. The openings were unguarded and therefore there was a significant risk of falling.

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Not did Amberley Homes act on concerns raised by its safety consultant when he drew attention to the the problems with site management.

Amberley Homes (Kent) Ltd, of Sevenoaks, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 during a trial at Maidstone Nightingale Court in January 2024. The company was fined £25,000 and ordered to pay £83,842.34 in costs at Canterbury Crown Court on 15th March 2024.

HSE principal inspector Ross Carter said: “This tragic death could have been so easily avoided by implementing suitable site management to ensure that the scaffold was appropriately adapted by competent persons for the needs of the different sub-contractors.

“This case highlights that principal contractors should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those who fall below the required standards and do not plan, manage and monitor the construction phase effectively.”

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