A fatal accident following a roof fall has led to a loft conversion firm being fined £40,000. Graham Readfern fell around five metres while being subcontracted by Lancashire-based Newhey Loft Conversions Limited during January 2012. Mr Readfern, 56, of Bacup, died 17 days after his fall from a height. A court heard that just a few extra hundred pounds spent on scaffolding would probably have prevented the fatality.
Scaffolding didn’t have protection
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors found that scaffolding used on the job in Chorlton was not adequately protective. The man’s job was to expand the original roof’s height to fit new dormer windows. The scaffolds were sufficient at the beginning for the job, but they did not increase in height accordingly to match the new windows.
The ladder Mr Readfern was using collapsed, causing him to plunge over a handrail into an adjacent garden. He had been ferrying a roofing felt roll to the new dormer window. Newhey admitted two transgressions of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The firm also had to pay costs of £20,000.
Lack of attention
HSE inspector Matt Greenly said that the scaffolding’s height did not keep pace with the newly fitted dormer windows. He said that Mr Readfern’s fatal accident was caused by a simple absence of attention regarding the progression of the job. This led to the worker not being sufficiently safeguarded by the original scaffold protection, Mr Greenly said.
Mr Readfern’s death would probably not have happened had Newhey spent a few extra hundred pounds on raising the height of the scaffolding. Such thoughtlessness not only left a man dead, but it also took a granddad, husband, father and friend away from his family.
Greenly added that it is key that construction companies take the risk of falls seriously, because they are a leading reason behind many deadly and severe injuries in the industry. This is why “proper planning” remains so important to the management of such jobs.
Source: Health and Safety Executive
Date Published: July 28, 2015
Author: Jonathan Brown