Dennis Vincent, aged 36, and a colleague were using ropes to install a lightning protection system to the front of a Warrington office block being converted into flats.
Mr Vincent, who was from Stoke-on-Trent, was lowering the access equipment from the roof, using a rope attached to a frame at roof level and a handrail at ground level. As he did so, both he and the frame fell from the roof to the ground.
The incident happened on 24th February 2021 at Palmyra House, Palmyra Square in Warrington.
An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that Mr Vincent’s employer, PTSG Electrical Services Limited, had failed to adequately assess the risks associated with this work, giving little consideration to the work at height hierarchy of control and opting for personal protection measures over more suitable collective protection measures, such as scaffolding or a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP).
In addition to this, the company had not planned for getting the rope access equipment on to and off the roof safely, providing no instructions to the operatives.
PTSG Electrical Services Limited, of Flemming Court, Whistler Drive, Castleford, West Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £5,448.51 in costs at Wirral Magistrates’ Court on 9th February 2023.
HSE inspector Sara Andrews said after the hearing: “Our thoughts today are with the family of Dennis Vincent, a young dad and husband who did not return home on 24th February 2021 because of the failings of his employer.
“This incident could easily have been avoided by better planning of the work to ensure adequate controls were in place to prevent falls from the roof. Whilst rope access techniques are appropriate in some circumstances, they should only be used if more appropriate measures, such as fixed scaffolding, cannot be.”
Two more companies will appear at Liverpool Crown Court later this year in relation to the incident, after pleading not guilty at an earlier hearing.
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A contractor has been fined £120,000 after a fatal roof fall in a construction site in February 2019.
The contractor responsible for the construction site, Wilkins Builders Ltd, were convicted of two health and safety breaches under section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The court heard that an employee suffered serious injuries after falling from a height of about five metres on the morning of 22 February 2019. An investigation by the HSE found that Wilkins Builders Ltd had failed to provide adequate safety measures to protect employees from falls from height.
Wilkins Builders were convicted of two counts of failing to ensure the safety of its employees and have been fined £120,000 with costs of £24,000.
HSE Inspector Simon Jones said: “This tragic incident could have been avoided if Wilkins Builders Ltd had taken reasonable steps to protect their employee from falls. Companies should be aware that failing to identify and evaluate the risks of working at height can result in serious injury or even fatality.”
It is vital that employers ensure that a safe system of work exists at all times, to prevent incidents like this from occurring. If safety systems of work are not put in place, employers need to be aware that they could face prosecution.