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November 5, 2008

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Two firms fined GBP 130k after worker dies in fall

Two companies have been fined £130,000 after a worker fell to his death at a construction site in Maidstone, Kent.

Maidstone Crown Court heard, on 30 October, that the workman had been fitting floor gratings around three newly installed boilers, at a new facility for converting waste to energy, when the incident occurred on 19 July 2005. Many of the floor gratings were not correctly secured, while others had been displaced by pipe fitters. This resulted in one of the displaced gratings giving way, causing the workman to fall 23 metres to his death.

The principal contractor, Lentjes UL Ltd, pleaded guilty under section 3(1) of the HSWA 1974 and was fined £45,000, with costs of £25,000. Rafako S.A. was sub-contracted to install the boilers and pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The firm was fined £85,000 and ordered to pay costs of £35,000.

In mitigation both companies accepted that they could have done more to prevent the accident but attributed the majority of the blame to each other. They also stated that the deceased was partly responsible.

HSE inspector, Peter Collingworth, told SHP: “There was a number of factors that led to this accident, one of which was the fact that the workman was not wearing a harness. It’s also clear that the floor gratings had not been safely secured and were displaced due to work being carried out by pipe fitters.

“The gratings should not have been secured at the same time as the pipe fitters were carrying out their work. At the very least, the area should have been cordoned off after the pipe fitters had finished. The gratings should then have been tested to see if they had been correctly secured.”

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