Employee sentenced after co-worker falls from height

A site manager for an events marquee company has received a suspended prison sentence after a colleague fell through a marquee roof sheet onto an ice rink.

Worcester Crown Court heard that on 29 October 2019 whilst constructing a marquee over an ice rink a small tear had appeared in one of the roof sheets. The employee climbed up to the roof using a stepladder and ‘shimmied up the outside of the marquee to the roof area to make a repair. The roof sheet failed, and the employee fell approximately six metres to the ice below causing life – changing injuries.

The injuries included fractures to his elbow and knee, and skull. As a result of the incident Mr Whittaker suffered life changing injuries including, a brain haemorrhage, and psychological trauma.

Garry McCormack was the company’s construction manager and was present at the site when the damage to the roof sheet was found. He was also the person directly responsible for making risk assessments for any task requiring remedial action and for assigning suitably trained and experienced workers to carry out such work.

McCormack failed to properly risk assess the task despite some misgivings voiced to him by other employees on -site at the time. He failed to employ suitable safety equipment such as a cherry picker or other means to safely access the roof area and prevent a fall from height.

The injured employee had been under the supervision and control of Mr McCormack at the time of the fall.

Garry McCormack of Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was sentenced to a 12-month suspended sentence for two years. He also received a 160 hour community order and was ordered to pay £6,500 of costs,

HSE inspector Aaron Fisher said after the hearing: “Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities in this country and the risks associated with working at height are well known. Companies and individuals in control should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standard.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise. hse.gov.uk
  2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at: legislation.gov.uk/
  3. HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk