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St Helens healthcare firm sentenced over fatal fall

St Helens healthcare firm sentenced over fatal fall

2 December 2013 Email this article

A St Helens healthcare firm has been fined £170,000 for serious safety failings following the death of a worker who fell nearly six metres from scaffolding.

Peter Winchurch, a self-employed joiner, had been hired to help build an extension to a semi-detached house in Skelmersdale when the incident happened in November 2009.

TRU Ltd, which was in charge of the construction site, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found the scaffolding was dangerous.

This was due in particular to a lack of guard rails and inadequate decking. In addition, TRU Ltd’s site employees were not  properly trained, there were no risk assessments and there were no method statements.

During a five-day trial at Liverpool Crown Court, the jury heard that TRU specialises in providing rehabilitation for people with brain injuries, but that it also took on some building projects.

Mr Winchurch, 68 from Skelmersdale, had been working on the roof trusses for the extension to the house when he fell from the scaffolding. He suffered critical head injuries and died in hospital the following day.

TRU Ltd, which now trades as TRU (Transitional Rehabilitation Unit) Ltd, was found guilty of two separate breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £170,000 and ordered to pay a further £82,145 in prosecution costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Anthony Polec said: “The failings by TRU Ltd were a significant cause of Mr Winchurch’s tragic death.

“The scaffolding was clearly dangerous, which meant that the risk of a worker being killed or seriously injured in a fall was highly foreseeable.”