A farming partnership has been fined after an investigation found that it failed to provide advice on working on fragile roofs before a worker fell to their death.
Toft Partnership has been fined £60,000 following the death of a farm manager in Staffordshire.
Roof collapsed underneath him
In May 2014, John Mills, 67, was tasked with dismantling farm buildings in Hyde Lea, Stafford Crown Court heard.
During the job, he used a ladder to climb onto the roof, which was 14 feet from the ground. Mr Mills was attempting to cut away bolts on the roof when it collapsed, sending him to the ground.
He suffered serious head injuries. Despite the best attempts of emergency crews, he died shortly after in hospital.
Mr Mills had been working at the farm for more than 40 years.
Confusion over health and safety responsibilities
The Toft Partnership had told the court that it assumed their manager’s day-to-day running of the farm meant he was responsible for health and safety matters.
In fact, the partnership was classed as the duty holder with responsibility for employees.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that despite the partnership’s awareness of the work, it hadn’t provided any safety advice, warnings over the fragility of the roof, or put any planning or safe method of work in place.
The Toft Partnership pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, was fined £60,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £29,417.
HSE Inspector Katherine Blunt said: “This death was a tragedy for everyone associated with the farm, including the duty holders themselves.
“John Mills was a stalwart for the farm whose death was avoidable. This case sends a very important message to farm owners that they are very clear on where their responsibilities lie, and then to act on those obligations.”
Source: Health and Safety Executive