A Manchester judge sentenced three men to jail for covering up health and safety failings following the death of a man at work. 25 year old Benjamin Edge died after falling 12ft from a roof at Fletcher Bank Quarry in Ramsbottom in December 2014. He had been working with no safety equipment in wet and windy conditions.
After he was taken to hospital his employers James and Christopher Brown, from SR and RJ Brown, tried to cover up the health and safety failings on site, falsifying risk assessments and ordering another employer to bring safety equipment to the site after the accident. They were both sentenced to 20 months in jail. Mark Aspin of MA Excavations, who had subcontracted SR and RJ Brown to carry out the work, was sentenced to 12 months for gross dereliction of duty for failing to ensure that the work done on site was safe. In addition, MA Excavations was fined £150,000 and SR and RJ Brown received a £300,000 fine. The employee who brought the safety equipment to site was sentenced to 4 months in prison, suspended for 2 years.
Danny Clarke, Operations Director for the ELAS Group, says: “This reinforces the need for companies to proactively manage health and safety risks on site, whether this is direct employees or through contractors.
“To hear that the employers attempted to introduce safety measures after the event demonstrates a flagrant disregard for health and safety. It clearly shows that they understood what should have happened and the controls that should have been in place on site. Working at height is one of the most risky work activities that can be undertaken and, therefore, managing these types of risks is paramount.
“I hope that the new HSE sentencing guidelines and the custodial sentences passed on these individuals will go some way to deter others who may have been blindly ignoring the poor management of risk on their sites.
“We would recommend all working at height activities are properly risk assessed and managed with the right equipment, the right control measures in place and trained and competent individuals undertaking the activities. If in doubt, people should always seek advice from an experienced safety professional.”