Published:
October 7, 2016
Highbridge factory is fined £210,000 after man was killed in roof fall

A Highbridge industrial firm has been fined £210,000 after a worker fell 25ft to his death through a skylight.

Samuel Wright Maxwell, 46, was working on a suspected unstable roof at Cooper B-Line when it caved in and he plummeted onto the concrete floor of a rack assembly below.

The maintenance worker was pronounced dead shortly after the fall on May 17, 2013.

Mr Maxwell regularly carried out repair work to the factory roof without adequate and sufficient safety measures being in place, heard Taunton Crown Court.

The Cooper B-Line (CBL) factory in Commerce Way has been taken to task over the incident.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. It was fined £210,000 and were ordered to pay £36,493 in costs.

The watchdog Health and Safety Executive claims a 'confusing system of working' had developed and CBL bosses failed to manage the risks posed to workers.

Mr Maxwell's devastated partner Gwenaelle Ansquer has slammed CBL after bosses initially failed to accept responsibility for his death, it was said.

She said: "Losing Sam in this way casts a huge black cloud over my life and the life of our daughter."

"Even now over three years later, I still feel like it happened yesterday. I have been waiting all that time for CBL to accept the responsibility for something that should never have happened."

"I wish that they had done that from the beginning. I cannot believe they ever tried to deny it."

The Health and Safety Executive said an investigation revealed people regularly worked on roofs without proper precautions to prevent them falling.

An inadequate generic risk assessment, which failed to identify the risks and control measures necessary when its employees were working at height was also found.

HSE Inspector Annette Walker said: "The senior management of companies must learn from this tragic case that they need to take the health and safety of their workers seriously."

"In this case a confusing system of work had developed and unintentionally encouraged dangerous methods. Falls from height continue to account for a significant proportion of all workplace deaths and serious injuries. Falls through fragile roofs and skylights sadly happen all too often."

"Businesses should ensure that all roof work including routine maintenance is properly planned and carried out safely."

Pictured: Police outside the former Cooper B-Line factory after the 2013 accident

 

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