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Health and safety equipment failing leads to death

A 61-year-old man plunged to his death from the roof of a warehouse in Dover due to health and safety regulations being neglected, a court has been told. 

The grandfather fell six metres through a skylight and hit the concrete ground below, suffering multiple injuries and later dying in hospital. 

This incident was found to be due to the failings of both his employer and a major drinks wholesaler. 

The individual was working for Richard Parker, trading as Ovenden Engineering at the time of the accident. Ovenden Engineering had been contracted by Allied Domecq Spirits and Wine Ltd to mend a roof leak and clean the gutters of their bonded warehouse in Dover.

Roof work 

He was working on the roof with his brother, who also worked for Richard Parker, when he crashed through one of the 80 skylights.

The incident, which occurred on November 16th 2010, was subsequently investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). 

The HSE prosecuted Richard Parker, of Folkestone, and Allied Domecq Spirits and Wine Ltd, trading as CG Hibbert Ltd, of west London, for safety breaches. 

HSE’s investigation pointed out failures by both defendants.

Failure to provide safety equipment 

Not only was the roof fragile, but there was no safety equipment in place for anyone working on it, with no crawling boards, scaffolding boards, harnesses or nets in place to protect employees from risks.

This was despite the fact that Mr Parker’s employees worked on the warehouse roof as often as every month. 

Allied Domecq owned the warehouse and as such had responsibility for the site. According to HSE, it should have ensured contractors planned and carried their work out safely and that proper control measures were in place. 

As a result, Richard Parker, trading as Ovenden Engineering of Radnor Street in Folkestone was fined £26,667 on Tuesday and ordered to pay £4,000 in costs after admitting to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. 

Meanwhile, Allied Domecq Spirits and Wine Ltd, trading as CG Hibbert, of Chancellors Road, west London, was fined £266,677, with costs of £10,752 after admitting breaching Section 3(1) of the same Act. 

These fines came after both defendants entered guilty pleas at a hearing in front of Canterbury Magistrates in April. 

Health and Safety Executive 

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Guy Widdowson commented: “This is a tragic case in which a devoted husband, father and grandfather has lost his life whilst at work.

“It is sickening that such incidents happen despite the widespread industry knowledge of the risks of working at height and of working on fragile roofs with equally fragile skylights.”

“]This] death was entirely preventable. Mr Parker should have provided his workers with suitable equipment to work on the roof. He failed to do so.”

Mr Widdowson continued that Allied Domecq do not contract out their health and safety responsibilities just because they have contracted out a job. He contended that it was their duty to ensure safety for workers before the job started, and noted that they failed to do so. ADNFCR-2134-ID-801600841-ADNFCR