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Sentences for Scaffolder & Roofer Following Fatal Fall from Height

4th August 2021

Southwark Crown Court has sentenced an unqualified scaffolder following a 2018 fatal fall from scaffold ladder access.

The incident occurred whilst the victim was working on the roof of a two-storey terraced house in Wimbledon, that was accessed using a ladder and a scaffold that had been erected by an unqualified scaffolder. Whilst work was being carried out, the victim and scaffolder moved slates up to the roof using an electric hoist when the victim fell through a gap adjacent to the hoist, falling six metres to the ground and tragically dying almost immediately.

Sentences for scaffolder and roofer following fall from height

Following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), it was found that the scaffolder, whilst not fully qualified to do so, had erected the scaffold leaving a 1.17m gap in the edge protection at the ladder access point and failed to fit a scaffold gate. This did not comply with industry standards or legal requirements for safe work at height. Furthermore, the roofer, who was in charge of work on site, allowed work to continue despite this unsafe environment. He also failed to appoint a qualified scaffolder and lacked the adequate health and safety training required to manage the site.

Kevin Smith, HSE Inspector said of the incident:

“The tragedy of this incident was that it was totally avoidable. Preventative measures were inexpensive and required little time or effort. Reducing the size of the opening in the guard rails and installing a self-closing scaffold gate would have stopped this man from falling to his death. A scaffold gate costs around £40 and only takes a few minutes to install.

Those involved in scaffolding and roof work on smaller sites need to be aware of the potentially devastating consequences of failing to put basic safeguards in place.”

After pleading guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the roofer was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,318. The scaffolder also pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,318.

As we reported in this blog, In the HSE’s latest report on workplace deaths for 2020/21, falling from height caused 35 deaths at UK workplaces.