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A scaffolder died when he fell eight metres through a fragile roof light while working on top of a chemical store at a creamery in Cornwall.

Two companies were today sentenced over the incident at Dairy Crest premises at Davidstow near Camelford on 4 November, 2008.

Truro Crown Court heard today that Michael Stone, 44, of Hartley, Plymouth, was erecting a scaffold at the premises when the incident happened.

The court heard self-employed Mr Stone was contracting for specialist fabrication firm Dartmeet Services which was contracted to creamery owners Dairy Crest to replace the roof on the chemical store.

The building had fragile rooflights but Mr Stone had not been made aware of this and no signs or markings were evident to indicate the danger. The HSE investigation found Mr Stone and his employees were not requested to sign in to gain access to the roof and no-one at the site checked his risk assessment for the work.

Mr Stone landed on a concrete floor when he fell, suffering multiple injuries. He died in hospital seven days later.

Dairy Crest Ltd was fined £75,000 and ordered to pay £20,000 costs for breaches of health and safety legislation in the case brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The other defendant also in court for sentencing was the main contractor, Dartmeet Services, were fined £30,000 with £10,000 costs.

HSE Inspector, Barry Trudgian, said:

“This is yet another tragic fatality caused by working on a roof with fragile rooflights where the risks are well known. In this case, no-one involved took proper control to make Mr Stone aware of the issue.

“There should have been signs on the building indicating the presence of fragile rooflights and any work on the roof should have been subject to a thorough risk assessment and supervision.

“Simple, straightforward, common sense procedures could have saved Mr Stone’s life.”

Dartmeet Services Ltd of Union Street, Newton Abbot, Devon pleaded guilty to breaches of Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulation 4 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. Dairy Crest Ltd of Esher, Surrey pleaded guilty to breaches of Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulation 9(3) (a) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Further information on working near rooflights can be found on the HSE website at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/falls/casestudies/rooflights.htm

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A self-employed building contractor from Chippenham has been fined for exposing workers to serious risk of injury after they were seen working on a barn roof with nothing to guard against a fall.

Ian Pitman, 56, exposed three workers to the risk of falling some eight metres from the roof but the dangers were spotted by a passing Inspector from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Swindon Magistrates’ Court heard today (27 Jan) that on 4 July 2013 the Inspector was passing a farm in Burton, Wiltshire, where a new barn was being erected. He saw the men installing roof sheets but without any means of preventing or mitigating a fall from the perimeter of the steel frame or from the leading edge of the roof sheets.

The Inspector issued an immediate Prohibition Notice preventing any further work at height until safety measures were put in place to protect the workers.

HSE’s subsequent investigation found that Ian Pitman had been contracted to build the barn and had employed the three workers, who do not wish to be identified, to assist with construction.

He had failed to ensure that protective measures, such as scaffold edge protection and safety netting, were in place to prevent or mitigate a fall from height, leaving the three men at risk of serious or fatal injury.

Ian Pitman, of Honeyknobb Hill, Kington St Michael, Chippenham, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £735 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Ian Whittles said:

“Ian Pitman neglected to implement basic safety measures to minimise the risks of falls, despite having been the subject of formal enforcement action by HSE on the inadequate planning of working at height on a previous occasion.

“The dangers of working at height are well known in the construction industry yet poor safety standards and lack of safeguards still exist among some contractors.

“For the last ten years or so there has been a significant increase in the number of incidents involving falls from the roofs agricultural buildings. This prosecution should serve as a reminder to all contractors to properly plan any work at height and make sure robust safety precautions are in place. All employers have a legal duty to manage safety and failing to do so can end in tragedy.”

Further information about working safely at height can be found on the HSE website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/falls

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