Company at fault for man’s ‘tragic’ fatal fall from roof

PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 October 2016

Andrew Driver was found guilty after a trial at North Somerset Courthouse.

Andrew Driver was found guilty after a trial at North Somerset Courthouse.

Archant

A Somerset company, which ‘failed to appreciate the risks to its workers’, has been fined more than £200,000, after a man died when he fell through a skylight.

Samuel Wright Maxwell, aged 46, fell to his death while he was working on a roof in 2013, an incident the company at first refused to take responsibility for.

Taunton Crown Court heard Cooper B Line (CBL) factory, in Highbridge, later pleaded guilty to breaching regulations and was fined £210,000 plus costs of £36,493.52.

On the day of the incident, Mr Maxwell’s colleagues heard a crash and found he had fallen through a skylight onto a concrete floor, seven metres below. He died shortly afterwards.

Mr Maxwell was a maintenance worker at the factory and had permission to be on the roofs if necessary, and did so on a regular basis as part of his job.

However, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation has revealed CBL management ‘carried out inadequate generic risk assessments which failed to identify the risks and control measures necessary when its employees were working at height’.

Mr Maxwell’s partner, Gwenaelle Ansquer, released a statement through the HSE.

It read: “Losing Sam in this way casts a huge black cloud over my life and the life of our daughter. Even now over three years later, I still feel like it happened yesterday.

“I have been waiting all that time for CBL to accept the responsibility for something that should never have happened.

“I wish that they had done that from the beginning. I cannot believe they ever tried to deny it.”

HSE inspector Annette Walker said: “Falls from height continue to account for a significant proportion of all workplace deaths and serious injuries. Falls through fragile roofs and skylights sadly happen all too often.

“The senior management of companies must learn from this tragic case that they need to take the health and safety of their workers seriously.

“In this case a confusing system of work had developed and unintentionally encouraged dangerous methods. Businesses should ensure all roof work is properly planned and carried out safely.”

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