Michael Ellerby / Feature Articles

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The need for the control of contractors

The importance of the Control of Contractors is often poorly understood until things have gone wrong. In the following case, things went wrong at a very serious level and somebody died.

A global drinks (AD) firm has been ordered to over £277,000 in fines and court costs after a contractor died as a result of falling six metres through a fragile skylight on a warehouse roof. Further to this, the worker’s employer (P) must pay just over £30,000 for his failure to protect his own staff. Mr Rogers was working for P in November 2010 on a contract with AD to fix a leak in the warehouse roof and to clean the gutters. The judge said the eight-metre high roof was made of corrugated fragile asbestos panels and fragile skylights. The Judge commented: “Yet neither of the brothers – who had to travel a significant distance –was given the proper crawling boards despite the dangers “being blindingly obvious as a matter of common sense”.

Mr Rogers suffered fatal injuries when he fell through one of the 80 skylights on the roof and hit the warehouse’s concrete floor. His brother Trevor, who was also employed by P, had been working alongside him on the roof. Canterbury Crown Court heard that even though P’s employees went up on the roof as often as every month, there were no crawling boards or scaffolding, harnesses or nets. As the warehouse owner, AD was responsible for the site and should have ensured its contractors planned and executed work safely.  P was fined £26,667 with £4000 costs after he admitted breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. AD pleaded guilty to a charge under Section 3(1) of the same Act, was fined £266,677 plus costs of £10,752. AD had responsibility for the site and should have ensured contractors planned their work to ensure it was done safely.

The HSE inspector Guy Widdowson said: “P should have provided his workers with suitable equipment” and added “AD could not contract out its health and safety responsibilities just by contracting out a particular job”. “This is a tragic case in which a devoted husband and father and grandfather lost his life at work … It is sickening that such incidents happen despite the widespread industry knowledge of the risks of working at height and on fragile roofs with equally fragile skylights.” “His death was entirely preventable.”

Need help with understanding your duties and responsibilities? Contact LRB Consulting Limited

 

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