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August 30, 2011

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Manager fined for role in fatal ladder fall

A bread company and a site manager have admitted failing to provide a safe method of work after a handyman fell from a stepladder and sustained fatal head injuries.

City of London Magistrates’ court heard that the incident took place at Ovenpride Wholesale Ltd’s bakery in Finchley Road, London on 22 April 2009. The site manager, Amjad Mahmood, had instructed Rocco Carofalo to build shelving in a storeroom.

Mr Carofalo was working alone in the storeroom when his colleagues heard a loud bang. They rushed into the room, and found him lying on the floor, bleeding from a severe head wound, with the stepladder next to him. He was taken to hospital but died several weeks later from his injuries.

Two HSE inspectors visited the bakery the day after the incident and found that the ladder was in a poor condition, as its stiles were bent and damaged. Their investigation also found that no risk assessments had been carried out for any work at the site. They issued a Prohibition Notice, requiring no further work at height to be undertaken at the site until a safe system of work had been created, and suitable equipment had been provided.

HSE inspector Charles Linfoot told SHP that Amjad Mahmood was prosecuted because he was responsible for safety at the site and had directly instructed Mr Carofalo. Inspector Linfoot said: “The consequences of this tragic incident will be felt by Mr Carofalo’s family for ever, but it was so easily preventable. As the risk of a fall was foreseeable, Ovenpride and its manager should have carried out a full site-specific risk assessment, and planned and organised the work to be carried out in a safe manner.

“Where access to heights is required, even for relatively short-term work, [employers] are ultimately responsible for assessing and planning the work and ensuring that it is carried out in a safe manner using suitable access equipment.”

Ovenpride Wholesale appeared in court on 24 August and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA and was fined £1. €

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Andie
Andie
10 years ago

Yet another fine of £1 for a company. The law is sending out such a clear message here, but at least this time a manager took some of the brunt though the directors that he worked for and prevented training and expenditure on proper equipment, i bet still live comfatably safe in the knowledge that they can do as they please. (see Satalite firm £1 for fall from height)

Andy
Andy
10 years ago

Why not corporate manslaughter ?
Because it doesn’t apply to individuals and the company no longer exists.
Why not Manslaughter by Gross Negligence ?
That could apply to a director or a manager with sufficient evidence… The fact that the LA or HSE didn’t prosecute perhaps means they couldn’t gather sufficient evidence of individual guilt against them.
The £1 fine is irrelevant, it’s agains the non existant company. Only prosecution of the directors would have made a difference.

Andy
Andy
10 years ago

Some very interesting comments. Another tragic and avoidable work related death. HSE took the appropriate action given the circumstances – punishment should always be an issue for the courts, a guilty plea is enough. Some misinformed comments about corporate manslaughter though. But the wierdest is the insinuation that it was the HSE/EHOs fault for not doing their job and ‘allowing’ this. Has no one heard of self regulation – oh and by the way – EHOs don’t regulate bakeries

Charris
Charris
10 years ago

£1 I thought it was a misprint! That just makes a joke out of H & S and all we try to do. What happened to corporate manslaughter here?? Sounds like everyone else has paid the price by loosing their jobs I suppose the director/managers will just start up another business elsewhere now and continue to put others at risk.

Granvillejenkins
Granvillejenkins
10 years ago

The Manager should have stuck to his gun’s as he has reasonable grounds for a not guilty plea, as senior management put him into a position that he was not competent to fulfill in the first place.

Question: Why did the HSE not go for a Corporate Manslaughter charge against a Director of the company, regardless of the fact the company is going into liquidation, a Senior Manager/Director should still have been held accountable until proven innocent.

Seems like the HSE are

Martin
Martin
10 years ago

Not only were the Company guilty of unsafe practices, what about the Magistrate?

How do these people get away with such outrageously inept, incompetent and irresponsible actions?

Will this now be regarded as Case Law for future judgements?

Ray
Ray
10 years ago

Sad incident, but the reality is you could go into any small business and find equipment not fit for purpose or no RAs for maintenance work. What happens when the HSE or EHO does inspect these types of premises? Usually nothing more than a ‘slap on the wrist’. Hence these poor practices go on unabated.

Corporate manslaughter would not have been appropriate in this case, inter alia – the main sanction is an unlimited fine against the company, not much point when it has gone into liquidation.

Ray
Ray
10 years ago

Andy, it is not clear from the article who were the directors, or indeed if there are any. However, the immediate responsibility for the site rests with the manager who was prosecuted. He claims he did not have proper support or training, that may or may not be the case.

I doubt if the evidence would have been robust enough for a corporate or gross negligent manslaughter charge. Sadly the failings were pretty basic and not so unusual in a small undertaking.

Richard
Richard
10 years ago

A couple of bad messages –
£1 fine on a non-extant company – the old card played once again – enough said!
Manager takes the main rap (he did have some responsibilty) but the Director(s) gets off scot free – once again Teflon deflects from the probable main root cause and the HSE & courts don’t seem to have scored the right hit.
Third message – Managers protect yourselves – get competent and get full proper support from your superiors – or else be prepared!
Pump trucks – work at height – ?

Roger
Roger
10 years ago

£1.00 you are joking are you not. This just goes to show how the British legal system works. The magistrates court in London has made an ass out of the WatH Regulations and the HASaWA, not knowing the law they are there to uphold. This case should have gone to Crown Court with a provision that if the company goes bust the Direstors could face jail if the fine could not be paid. Maybe if they had been rioting in the streets of London and stole a tv they may have gone to jail.