A worker from Fleetwood suffered a fatal fall at work through a warehouse roof after safety failings by a toy distributor and a builder, Preston Crown Court heard today. Mr Gray, 39, was clearing debris from the roof when he fell almost 30 feet through a plastic panel at Halsall Toys Europe Ltd on 19th July 2012.
Both the company and builder David Plant were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation discovered that no safety measures had been put in place to ensure that Mr Gray could carry out the work safely. The court heard that debris from the roof had been washing into the gutters, causing them to overflow into the warehouse. Mr Plant, a builder, was hired to clean the roof but Halsall Toys neglected to carry out checks to make sure he was competent.
The work began without any preparation or planning. There was also a total lack of safety equipment to prevent the fatal fall, such as a harness or a cover for the plastic panels. Mr Gray stepped on the clear plastic panel, a feature designed to let light in to the warehouse, which then gave way and sent him falling to the concrete floor. Sadly, he died at the scene.
Halsall Toys were fined £200,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £10,483 after pleading guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Mr Plant was handed a 6 month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months after being found guilty of breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Allen Shute said:
“Craig Gray should never have been allowed onto the warehouse roof without being given suitable training and equipment, but both Halsall Toys and David Plant allowed his life to be put in danger.
“Halsall Toys hired Mr Plant to carry out the work despite him not having any previous experience of working on industrial roofs. The firm should have carried out checks to make sure the work would be carried out safely.
“Mr Plant also had a legal duty to make sure the right equipment was used for the job, whether it was using harnesses or simply placing covers over the fragile roof panels to remove the risk of them collapsing.
“Sadly incidents of workers falling through warehouse roofs are all too common, and it’s vital firms do more to make sure this kind of work is carried out safely and by competent people.”