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Healthcare Company Punished Following Fatal Scaffold Fall

Self-Employed Joiner Dies After Falling Nearly Six Metres From Scaffolding


A company has been fined £170,000 after a self-employed joiner working on one of its building sites suffered fatal head injuries.

Peter Winchurch was doing a job on the roof of an extension in Skelmersdale when the accident happened in November 2009.

It emerged that Mr Winchurch had fallen nearly six metres from some scaffolding and he died in hospital the following day.

TRU - a healthcare provider that also runs some construction projects - was found guilty of two separate breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was ordered to pay £82,145 in prosecution costs, as well as the fine.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered the scaffolding was unsafe, with the lack of guardrails and inadequate decking being particular causes for concern.

The jury in a five-day trial at Liverpool Crown Court also heard how employees had not received sufficient safety training and there was a lack of method statements and risk assessments.

TRU - which now trades as Transitional Rehabilitation Unit - had employed Mr Winchurch, who was 68, to help build a semi-detached home on Bromilow Road. He was completing work on the roof trusses when the accident happened.

Following the hearing, HSE inspector Anthony Polec said the safety failings were a "significant cause" of Mr Winchurch's 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. The safeguards required were reasonably practicable and there is much published guidance on the subject from HSE and the construction industry," he commented.

According to the HSE, falls from height are still the most common cause of occupational fatalities in the UK.

A report published earlier this year showed as many as 31 per cent of all workplace deaths in 2012-13 could be attributed to this type of accident.

If you have lost a loved one due to an workplace accident, our serious injury solicitors could help you claim compensation to help get the answers you deserve. For more information visit our fatal accident claims or fall from height claims page.