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Howarth Timber fined after roofer plunges to death

Howarth Timber and Building Supplies has been fined for serious safety breaches after a labourer plunged more than eight metres to his death at the merchant’s site in Tottenham, north London.

Howarth Timber fined after roofer plunges to death

Andrew Ward, 44, from south east London, was fatally injured on 22 May 2012 when he fell through a fragile roof at Howarth Timber’s site in Bruce Grove. At the time, he was working for roofer and builder Paul Hardy, trading as Hardy Construction.

The timber and building supplies company was fined £93,750 and ordered to pay full costs of £12,580 for a breach Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Paul Hardy, of Grosvenor Road, Belvedere, Kent, was sentenced to four months in prison suspended for 12 months and fined £3,000 with £11,756 in full costs after admitting breaching Section 3(2) of the same act. Both parties had pleaded guilty at earlier hearings.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted both Leeds-based Howarth Timber and Paul Hardy, from Kent, after an investigation exposed dangerous failings in the planning and execution of the work.

Southwark Crown Court heard (18 May) that Howarth Timber had hired Paul Hardy to fix a leaking cement roof at the site. However, the company failed to check Mr Hardy’s competence before work began or properly assessed the risks associated with the job.

The court also heard that Paul Hardy didn’t plan the work adequately and failed to provide a risk assessment or method statement detailing how he would carry it out. Instead of making sure there was safe access to the roof, he provided an incorrectly-erected tower scaffold and an untied ladder. It was also heard he also failed to provide a suitable working platform, covering or guardrails despite the work being carried out near a fragile roof.

Investigating HSE inspector Chris Tilley said: “Falls through fragile roofs are sadly all too common but this tragic incident could have been avoided if adequate checks had been carried out on the contractor’s competence, the work been planned properly and carried out with the correct equipment.”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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