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Contractor fined £145k as worker dies after fall

A Trafford contractor has been fined £145,000 after an employee died from his injuries, two years after falling ten metres through a fragile roof.

J Mills was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive for failing to put protect 32-year-old Alan Kerwin while he was replacing a skylight on a warehouse in Ashton-under-Lyne.

Manchester Crown Court heard how the father-of-one from Lower Broughton, Salford, sustained serious head injuries in the fall on 31 March 2007, including a fractured skull.

Mr Kerwin developed post-traumatic epilepsy as a result of his injuries and was never able to return to work.

He died from an epileptic seizure in April 2009.

The court heard that Mr Kerwin’s line manager had received advice from HSE just one week before the incident which could have saved his life. An HSE inspector explained to him how to safely manage work on fragile roofs, but this advice was not acted upon.

The incident occurred at Kayley Industrial Estate on Richmond Street in Ashton-under-Lyne, where Mr Kerwin was working a Saturday shift. He was on the roof with two of his colleagues when he placed his weight on the delicate cement surrounding the glass.

The cement shattered, and Mr Kerwin fell through the gap. The HSE investigation found J Mills had not carried out a risk assessment or put any safety measures in place to protect him.

The court ordered the firm to pay £145,000 in fine and £7,700 for the cost of the prosecution.

HSE investigating inspector David Norton said:  “This is a tragic case in which someone has lost their father as a result of an entirely avoidable incident.

“Falls from height remain the biggest cause of workplace deaths and one of the main causes of serious injury. But Mr Kerwin was allowed to walk across a roof without anything in place to stop him falling.

“Just one week before, Mr Kerwin’s line manager was advised by a colleague of mine about the dangers of working at height, and how to protect employees. If he had acted on this advice then I’m confident Mr Kerwin would still be alive today.”

In 2009/10, more than 4,000 employees suffered a major injury as a result of a fall from height at work and 12 were killed.

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