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Contractor Fined Over Worker’s Death

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A Trafford firm has been fined £145,000 after an employee fell through a fragile warehouse roof onto a concrete floor and subsequently died from his injuries.

The incident occurred in 2007, when Alan Kerwin, 32, was working a Saturday shift at an industrial estate in Ashton-under-Lyne. He was on a glass roof replacing a skylight when he placed his weight on the cement surrounding the glass. The cement shattered and Mr Kerwin fell through the gap and sustained several serious injuries, including a fractured skull. He developed post-traumatic epilepsy as a result of his injuries and was never able to return to work. He died from an epileptic seizure in April 2009.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that Mr Kerwin’s employer, J Mills (Contractors) Ltd., had failed to carry out a risk assessment or to put any safety measures in place to protect him. The company was prosecuted by the HSE and admitted breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

The court heard that one week before the accident, Mr Kerwin’s manager had been given advice by the HSE on how to protect employees working on fragile roofs, but this advice was not acted upon.

The company was ordered to pay £7,700 in prosecution costs in addition to the fine.

Falls from height remain the biggest cause of workplace deaths and one of the main causes of serious injury. In 2009/10, more than 4,000 workers suffered a major injury as a result of a fall from height at work and 12 were killed.

The HSE has guidance on preventing falls from height in the workplace on its website.