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Kent grandfather dies after plunging through skylight

Kent grandfather dies after plunging through skylight

2 July 2013 Email this article

The HSE has prosecuted two companies following the death of a Kent father and granddad, who died after plunging six metres through a fragile skylight because safety measures were neglected both by his employer and a major drinks wholesaler, on whose site they were working.

Robert Rogers, 61, was working for Richard Parker, trading as Ovenden Engineering, which had been contracted by Allied Domecq Spirits and Wine Ltd to fix a leak in the roof and clean the gutters of their bonded warehouse in Dover, Kent.

Mr Rogers was on the roof with his brother, Trevor, also an employee of Richard Parker on the 16th November 2010, when he fell through one of the 80 skylights and hit the concrete floor below. He suffered multiple injuries and later died in hospital. He left behind his wife Jennifer, two sons, and nine grandchildren.

The HSE's investigation identified failures by both defendants. The court heard there was no safety equipment in place for anyone working on the roof, which was itself fragile. There were no crawling boards, scaffolding boards, harnesses or nets to protect workers from the risks.

As the owner of the warehouse, Allied Domecq had responsibility for the site and should have ensured contractors planned their work and carried it out safely and that proper control measures were in place.

Richard Parker was fined £26,667 and ordered to pay £4,000 in costs after admitting breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Allied Domecq Spirits and Wine Ltd was fined £266,677 with costs of £10,752 after admitting breaching Section 3(1) of the same Act. Both defendants had entered guilty pleas at a hearing before Canterbury Magistrates in April.

After the sentencing hearing, HSE Inspector Guy Widdowson said: "This is a tragic case in which a devoted husband, father and grandfather has lost his life whilst at work. It is sickening that such incidents happen despite the widespread industry knowledge of the risks of working at height and of working on fragile roofs with equally fragile skylights.

"Mr Rogers' death was entirely preventable. Mr Parker should have provided his workers with suitable equipment to work on the roof. He failed to do so.

"Allied Domecq do not contract out their health and safety responsibilities just by contracting out a particular job. It was their duty to ensure there was a safe system of work before the job started and that their contractors followed agreed safe procedures. They too failed to do so."