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Trafford contractor fined £145k over worker's death

1 Nov 11 A Trafford contractor has been fined £145,000 after an employee fell 10m through a fragile roof onto a concrete floor. He died two years later from his injuries.

The warehouse roof that Alan Kerwin fell through
The warehouse roof that Alan Kerwin fell through

J Mills (Contractors) Ltd was prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) for failing to put any safety measures in place to stop 32-year-old Alan Kerwin falling while he was replacing a skylight on a warehouse in Ashton-under-Lyne.

Manchester Crown Court heard that the father-of-one from Lower Broughton, Salford, sustained several serious injuries in the fall on 31 March 2007, including a fractured skull.

Mr Kerwin developed post-traumatic epilepsy as a result of his injuries, and was never able to return to work. He died from an epileptic seizure in April 2009.

The court heard that Mr Kerwin's line manager had received advice from the HSE just one week before the incident, which could have saved his life. An HSE inspector explained to him how to safely manage work on fragile roofs, but this advice was not acted upon.

The incident occurred at Kayley Industrial Estate on Richmond Street in Ashton-under-Lyne, where Mr Kerwin was working a Saturday shift. He was on the roof with two colleagues when he placed his weight on the delicate cement surrounding the glass. The cement shattered, and Mr Kerwin fell through the gap.

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The HSE investigation found that J Mills had not carried out a risk assessment, nor put any safety measures in place to protect him.

J Mills (Contractors) Ltd, of Higher Road in Urmston, admitted breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by putting workers at risk. The company was ordered to pay £7,700 in prosecution costs in addition to the fine on 31 October 2011.

After the hearing, HSE investigating inspector David Norton said: "This is a tragic case in which someone has lost their father as a result of an entirely avoidable incident.

"Falls from height remain the biggest cause of workplace deaths and one of the main causes of serious injury. But Mr Kerwin was allowed to walk across a roof without anything in place to stop him falling.

"Just one week before, Mr Kerwin's line manager was advised by a colleague of mine about the dangers of working at height, and how to protect employees. If he had acted on this advice then I'm confident Mr Kerwin would still be alive today."

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