Retired mechanic dies in fall through roof light
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A company, its director, and a self-employed contractor have been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), after Terry Lewis (a 65 year old retired mechanic) was fatally injured by falling through a roof light.
Warrington Crown Court heard how on 11 June 2013, Terry Lewis was working with his friend, Leigh Bakewell. They were cleaning roof lights on the roof of a building at Radnor Park Industrial Estate, Congleton. Mr Lewis fell approximately 7m through a roof light to the work-shop floor underneath, and subsequently died. Both the roof and the roof lights were not able to support the weight of a person.
The HSE investigation found that Leigh Bakewell, who primarily was a gardener and not a roofer, did not take precautions to prevent a fall through the roof, nor off its edge. He did not have the necessary knowledge or competence to carry out the work.
Roman Lodge Asset Management Limited failed to have adequate systems in place to ensure a competent roofer was appointed. Both the company and Jonathan Marshall failed to adequately plan and supervise the work, due to their own lack of understanding of standards and the law relating to work on fragile roofs.
Roman Lodge Asset Management Ltd, of Dane Mill, Broadhurst Lane, Congleton, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) and Regulation 5 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, and were fined £20,000 with £8,010.00 costs.
Its director, Jonathan Marshall pleaded guilty to breaching two counts of Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was sentenced to four months imprisonment on each count (suspended for 12 months) and was ordered to pay £8,010.00 costs.
At a hearing on 18 August 2016, Leigh Bakewell pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was sentenced to six months imprisonment (suspended for 12 months) and was ordered to pay £8,610.47 costs.
HSE inspector Warren Pennington said after the hearing: “This is an incredibly sad case all round. Each defendant knew that the roof was fragile and each accepted unsafe working practices. Terry Lewis was only on the roof in order to help out his best friend. If Roman Lodge and Jonathan Marshall had asked questions about Leigh Bakewell’s experience and knowledge (of roof work standards), they would not have employed him. Leigh Bakewell should have recognised he was not competent and should not have carried out the work. With these simple considerations, Mr Lewis would not have been on the roof and would not have died in the way he did.”
More information regarding safe working on fragile roofs can be found at www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/geis5.htm.