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August 18, 2011

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Satellite firm fined £1 for roof death

A satellite-television installation company, which is no longer trading, has been fined £1 following the death of a worker who fell from the roof of a four-storey house.

The Old Bailey heard that engineer Noel Corbin, 29, was working for Foxtel Ltd when the incident took place on 3 February 2008. The company, which had a contract to carry out repairs on Sky TV and satellite faults, sent Mr Corbain to a property in Belsize Park, London to fix two faulty satellite dishes.

Mr Corbin was working on a dish on the property’s roof apex, which he had accessed via a dormer window. Before his fall he was also seen working on another satellite dish located on a flat roof. There were no witnesses to his fall but it is thought that he slipped while walking across the sloping part of the roof and fell 13.5 metres, landing on a side patio. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The HSE’s investigation found that no risk assessment had been carried out before the work commenced and Mr Corbin had not been issued with a harness. HSE inspector Charles Linfoot told SHP that the company should have accompanied Mr Corbin on a site visit to carry out a site-specific risk assessment, once it was established that the building had more than two storeys.

The inspector also revealed that the company had not requested any references from Mr Corbin when it first employed him, nor did it ask him to present any training certificates. It also failed to supervise any of his site visits to assess his competence.

Inspector Linfoot said: “Mr Corbin’s death has had a devastating effect on his family – made all the more tragic because the incident was easily preventable. Owing to the foreseeable risk of falling and the lack of suitable access equipment, the work should have been cancelled.

“Foxtel should have carried out a full site-specific risk assessment, planning and organising the work to be executed in a safe manner. It is not acceptable to simply delegate health and safety duties to employees without adequate instruction, training, monitoring, or supervision.”

Foxtel Ltd ceased trading in June and appeared in court on 12 August to plead guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974. As it has no assets the court fined the company £1.

In mitigation, the company said it had fully cooperated with the investigation and had a previously unblemished safety record. It also said that before it ceased trading it had provided staff with work-at-height training and employed additional field managers to carry out site inspections.

After the hearing Inspector Linfoot added: “I hope the conviction of Foxtel Ltd sends a clear message to other installation companies in London and elsewhere that, where access to residential properties from height is required, companies are ultimately responsible for carrying out a full site-specific risk assessment.”

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Ann
Ann
10 years ago

These courts are a joke. The way this is going the victim is going to be fined and made to repay the company for his death! CRIMINAL!

David
David
10 years ago

Another “Get Out Of Jail Free Card”

One can only hope that the directors of this company are not now running another company in the same criminal way.

Sometimes I am a hopeless optimist.

Major
Major
10 years ago

Clear messege my bottom!

HSE is in a state of denial – as is the law of the land. The PM and Grayling may have an opinion endorsing this decision after all, safety is only common sense.

Yes PM/Grayling, the law needs to be changed – to put a stop to shysters who don’t give Jack about life or limb

Peter
Peter
10 years ago

Yeah, that is going to send out a clear message. Companies will just go bankrupt to avoid paying large fines. What was the cost to the tax payer for that little exercise of clarity? Maybe, the only clear message is that someone forgot about the Corporate Manslaughter Act

Ray
Ray
10 years ago

“I hope the conviction of Foxtel Ltd sends a clear message to other installation companies…”

How can a nominal fine of £1 send a ‘clear message’? The only clear message I can see is that if you liquidate your company following a serious incident you will avoid prosecution!

Now, identifying and prosecuting the senior mangement of the company would send a clear message to would be offenders.

Ray
Ray
10 years ago

Further to my previous comments, it really is about time the authorities closed this loop hole and ensured directors are personally responsible for their acts and omissions even when a company is liquidated voluntarily. Furthermore, the directors should not be allowed to start up another company without paying their dues first.

I see no reason why the HSE could not still prosecute the directors for a s37 offence and/or disqualify them for taking up a directorship as per the Companies Act?

Richard
Richard
10 years ago

Agree about a poor “clear message”.
Think you can forget Corporate Manslaughter – falls at the same hurdle, of a liquidated company that has no assets to raid.
Try good old-fashioned plain Manslaughter on Director / Managers instead – only if really personal responsibility is applied to negligent Directors / Managers will this sort of tragedy (and charade) get a proper clear messege sent!
Heaven help us if they are running another company – they should be in gaol instead!

Scottd
Scottd
10 years ago

A joke!!!!

if only it was funny.