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Companies sentenced over death of scaffolder

Date:
23 December 2015

Two companies have been fined a total of £1.3million following the death of a scaffolder who was just weeks away from his wedding day.

The court was told John Altoft, 29, from Scunthorpe was killed when he fell to his death after being struck by falling debris inside an industrial tower.

On 18 January 2012, a team from Cape Industrial Services Ltd were installing an access scaffold to enable the relining of the inside of a steel plated tapered cylindrical structure at the Cemex Cement Works in Rugby.

Warwick Crown Court heard the team was working inside the Cyclone 1 tower when concrete debris dropped on to John Altoft causing him to fall seven metres to the bottom of the structure causing fatal head injuries. His colleague Ty Smart was also seriously injured, suffering serious wrist and arm fractures and has been unable to work since the incident.

Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told the court that both Cemex UK Operations Ltd and Cape Industrial Services Ltd Scaffolding should have co-ordinated and planned this high risk work to a higher standard.

Cemex UK Operations Limited, Coldharbour Lane, Surrey, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £700,000 and was ordered to pay £90,783.78 in costs.

Cape Industrial Services Limited, Stockley Bridge, Uxbridge, Middlesex pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £600,000 was ordered to pay £90,783.78 in costs.

HSE Inspector, Sue Thompson, said: “John Altoft should have been celebrating his wedding, but instead his family suffered a terrible loss.

“This was an entirely preventable incident and proper planning and protection from the foreseeable danger of falling material would have prevented this from happening.”

Michelle Altoft, John’s mum, said: “John was very loyal and hard working. He turned into the most handsome, caring young man, and I could not be more proud of him. He would help anyone and be there when you needed him.

“I have lost the most precious thing any mother could lose, and will never be replaced – my child.”

Carly Sargent, John’s fiancé, said: “Even now, two years on I still miss John. Mine and John’s life together was taken away from us. We grew up together. He worked hard all his life with the intention of becoming my husband and having a family. This is all he wanted. We both wanted the same things.”

 

Notes to Editors:

 

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement www.hse.gov.uk
  1. What is Cyclone 1? – In early January 2012 Cemex shut the site for routine maintenance work to be carried out. In particular it was necessary to reline Cyclone 1, a tall (some 131m high 9m across) steel plated tapered cylindrical structure which was an integral part of the pre heater tower system designed to circulate and dry the product at high temperature. The work on Cyclone 1 was within a confined space area and required work at height. The relining work was the first time it has been attempted. This was not a normal shut down procedure.
  2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at: legislation.gov.uk/
  3. Further HSE news releases are available at www.press.hse.gov.uk.
  4. Picture attached is of John Altoft

 

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