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Owner of South Devon animal crematorium fined for worker’s death

Date:
16 April 2015

The owner of a pet and equine crematorium has been fined after a self-employed worker died falling through a roof while carrying out repairs. 

Paul Hoskin of Christow, Devon, a self-employed agricultural engineer, was asked to repair holes in a cement fibre roof at the crematorium in Newton Abbot on 6 September 2013, when he fell 6.6 metres to the floor where he died. 

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which today prosecuted Sally Williams, (trading as Cremtor) at Exeter Crown court today (16 April). 

The court heard that Mr Hoskin, who was 49-years-old at the time of his death, was employed to fix holes in the crematorium roof with the help of a Cremtor employee. Neither Mr Hoskin nor the Cremtor employee had any training or expertise in carrying out roof work. 

Mr Hoskin was lying on the fragile roof and reaching for a drill when the roof gave way and he hit a wooden pallet and metal frame before hitting the floor. The wooden pallet, held in place below the roof by a forklift truck, was intended to break any fall but was entirely inadequate for the job, being over a metre below the level of the roof. 

There was no evidence of proper equipment which could have prevented or lessened the effect of Mr Hoskin’s fall, such as crawling boards, work platforms, harnesses or lanyards. 

Instead the workers were allowed to walk on the roof, despite a sign on the building saying ‘Danger – Fragile Roof’. 

HSE inspectors also found there was no risk assessment or method statement for the job and that Ms Williams failed to identify if Mr Hoskin was competent to carry out work on roofs and knew her employee had no qualifications for working at height. 

Sally Williams, of Greycote Lane, Forches Cross, Newton Abbot pleaded guilty breaching Section 3 (1) and Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 was fined a total of £45,000 and ordered to pay £8180 in costs. 

HSE Inspector Helena Allum, speaking after the hearing, said: “Mr Hoskin’s tragic death revealed a catalogue of serious safety failings with this job. 

“Employers must make sure people they ask to do work for them have the right training and experience for the job and are provided with the equipment to do it safely. Activities must be properly assessed and planned in advance. 

“Falls from height are one of the most common causes of fatalities at work and yet simple procedures and planning could save many lives.” 

Further information on working at height safely can be found on the HSE website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/height.htm 

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 
  2. Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.” 
  3. Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”  
  4. HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press.

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