A TRIO of companies have been fined more than £400,000 after a man was injured when he plunged 25ft from a roof he was working on.

Balsham Buildings, Strong Clad and Ernest Doe were sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on Tuesday morning after admitting breaching health and safety rules.

The incident happened at a warehouse at Dengie Crops in Hall Road, Southminster, on November 20, 2014, when an employee of Strong Clad fell 25ft from a roof.

The man suffered a head and back injury, but his injuries were not life-threatening.

Balsham Buildings, of Cambridge, and Strong Clad, of King Street, Castle Hedingham, both admitted two charges of failing to properly plan how employees should work on the roof of the warehouse at earlier hearings.

Ernest Doe and Sons, of Ulting, admitted one charge of failing to plan, monitor and manage the replacement of the roof on Monday.

The court heard workers were replacing “fragile” old roofing, potentially containing asbestos, on the warehouse during the autumn of 2014.

Later in the project, work moved to the penthouse,another part of the warehouse which contained large machinery and did not have netting should a fall occur.

Maldon and Burnham Standard:

  • FALL: The incident happened at Dengie Crops in November 2014

On the afternoon of November 20, 2014, the victim, now 35, fell through the roof of the penthouse and hit a metal bracket on the way down.

As a result he suffered a hematoma — a collection of blood outside the brain — and now suffers from headaches and back problems.

He is now “too frightened”, to work on asbestos roofing.

The court heard the victim was in an area that did not require him to unclip his harness, and he had a history of always using his harness.

Judge Emma Peters fined Ernest Doe, the principle contractor, £360,000 and ordered them to pay £10,000 costs.

She said: “Having been asked by a regular customer Dengie Crops, Ernest Doe overstretched themselves and put themselves into an arena of which they had no experience.”

She fined Balsham Buildings £45,000 and ordered them to pay £7,000 in costs and fined Strong Clad £7,000 with costs of £3,000.

Judge Peters said more discussions should have taken place over how workers would deal with the penthouse area describing them as “on the hoof ” and “ad hoc”.

She said: “The message must go out loud and clear to all companies to only embark on work they are confident they can do so safely."

Company’s court “regret”

A MACHINERY company has expressed its “regret” after admitting breaching health and safety regulations.

Balsham Buildings, Strong Clad and Ernest Doe have been fined more than £400,000 after admitting failing to properly plan.

Gordon Menzies, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive, told the court issues about workers stepping on the fragile roof to move a scaffolding system had been raised at the site, but the practice still continued.

Mr Menzies said only an “ad hoc” discussion had been had about how to deal with working in the penthouse area, where the victim fell.

He said: “He is 35-years-old but he says he feels like an old man. Whilst roofing was his trade he is now simply too frightened to work on asbestos roofing.”

Mr Menzies said safety planning had been “substantially below” what was expected.

Simon Antrobus, mitigating for Ernest Doe, told the court the company had employed a safety supervisor who undertook site visits and sent reports raising any issues.

He described Ernest Doe as having a “very good” health and safety record.

He said: “Mr Doe expresses his and the company’s regret that they appear here today and have been associated with the injury of the man in these circumstances.”

The court heard Grant Strong, who runs Strong Clad, had been in the industry for more than ten years without any safety incidents and accepted with hindsight he should have questioned safety processes.

Matthew Gowen, mitigating for Blashams, said the company had employed three site supervisors, but they were not on site every day.

He said the company accepted “not enough thought was given to how the penthouse was going to be approached before the construction work started”.

Mr Gowen said since the accident a health and safety manager was made an in-house position and the business took the decision to only take on work where there was 100 per cent netting.