Three company bosses have been jailed after trying to cover up their safety failings and suggesting a fall from height was a worker’s own fault.
The man had been working in wet and windy conditions on a shed roof without safety equipment. He died after slipping and falling from the structure.
The court was told working at height presented an obvious risk of death or very serious injury but that no safeguards had been provided either to prevent or mitigate a fall.
The prosecution said these were “flagrant” breaches of legal duties which the law imposes on employers.
Shockingly, the court heard how bosses then staged a cover up to try and hide their Health & Safety shortcomings by:
- ordering an employee who had been on the roof with the victim to fetch safety harnesses to make it look like they’d been given the right equipment but chosen not to use it
- falsifying a risk assessment that should have been done beforehand.
Company bosses Christopher and Robert Brown admitted trying to cover up what happened. They were jailed for 20 months for perverting the course of justice and breaking Health & Safety law.
The Browns’ firm, SR and RJ Brown Limited, was fined £300,000 after admitting corporate manslaughter and failing to ensure the worker’s safety.
MA Excavations Ltd, which had contracted out the work, was fined £75,000 after admitting corporate responsibility for exposing workers to risk. Director Mark Aspin was jailed for a year after failing to manage and plan the work safely.
The employee who brought the harnesses was spared jail and given a suspended four-month sentence for perverting the course of justice.
The judge described the attempted cover up as a “gross dereliction” of an employer’s duty.
Robert Brown had done a “grossly inadequate” risk assessment before the job which he didn’t show to anyone. He then typed up another risk assessment after the victim was taken to hospital.
The judge said the Browns should not have done the work at all as they had no knowledge of the safety requirements for working at height.
Aspin was said to have a “misplaced” belief the Browns were “competent” but had not checked their qualifications.