July 11, 2017

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In-court

Sentencing hearing: construction boss jailed after death of two workers

A construction company boss has been sent to jail for 14 months following the death of two employees from a balcony fall in London’s Cadogan Square.

Martin Gutaj, of Ferry Lane, Brentford, was convicted after he failed to undertake an adequate risk assessment and offer training to two construction workers who fell to their deaths trying to lift a sofa over balcony railings and through an upper floor window.

Gutaj and his company, Martinisation London, were found guilty of safety breaches at a trial in May, and were sentenced at the Old Bailey on 7 July.

Advice was ignored

The court heard how on 21 November 2014, Tomasz Procko, 22, and Kyrol Szymanski, 29, both Polish nationals, were working at a construction site in Cadogan Square run by Gutaj’s company.

During the course of the day the men were asked to perform a lifting operation at height without supervision or the requisite training.

The men were not provided with a plan, method statement or risk assessment prior to the task being undertaken, thereby exposing them to the risk of serious harm. The expectation was for the workmen to use a rope to haul a sofa over a balustrade and into a first floor apartment.

Advice from an experienced and reputable lifting company on how to carry out the process safely was ignored due to time and budgetary constraints.

Fall from balcony

Both workmen fell after railings on the balcony gave way while the furniture was being manoeuvred into the premises. Tomasz Procko was pronounced dead at the scene. Karol Szymanski was taken to a central London hospital in a critical condition where he later died.

Martin Gutaj was found guilty of two counts of failure to discharge a duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees, contrary to section 33 (1) and section 71 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Martinisation London Ltd was found guilty of two counts of corporate manslaughter, contrary to section 1 (1) of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 and two counts of failure to discharge a duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees, contrary to section 33 (1) and section 71 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The company was fined £2.4m (£1.2m for each death) and £650,000 for breaches of Health and Safety Regulations.

Barbour download: Guide to working at height

Work at any height can cause injury; a fall from a height of just one or two steps can cause serious injury.

The Regulations were amended in 2007 to extend their application to those who work at height providing instruction or leadership to one or more people engaged in caving or climbing by way of sport, recreation, team building or similar activities in Great Britain.

Download your free guide from Barbour to understand: Duties of persons in control of work at height; Duties of persons undertaking work at height; General controls when working at height; Method statement for work at height; Selection of a means of access; Working platforms; Guardrails and toeboards; Ladders Mobile work platforms; Suspended access equipment; Personal suspension equipment and, Inspection of fall arrest equipment.

Barbour EHS

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