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Roofing boss gets suspended sentence after worker death

The boss of a Lancashire-based roofing firm has been handed a suspended prison sentence after a worker fell and died at a construction site.

IN-MAY 2021, an employee utilized by Richard Thornton, trading as Vanguard Roofing, was undertaking roof replacement works on a domestic building in Burnley.

On the ultimate day of the work, a worker was climbing a triple-extending access ladder on the top to attain scaffolding at eaves level, while carrying a pile of slate on the shoulder.

They slipped and fell to the bottom – sustaining fatal injuries, and died at the scene.

In accordance with a statement from medical and Safety Executive (HSE), its investigators discovered that the interlocking parts of the ladder didn’t enable three points of contact to be maintained, particularly when a load had been carried. It described an individual pole access ladder could have enabled this.

The probe also found that the employee was wearing loose fit footwear, which meant they didn’t have a company footing on the ladder because they climbed.

Thornton also didn’t have any employers liability insurance set up to safeguard his employees, that is a legal requirement,the HSE said.

At Blackpool Magistrates’ Court, Richard Anthony Thornton of Greenbrook Road, Burnley, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of THE TASK at Height Regulations 2005 and Section 1(1) of the Employers Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969.

He was sentenced to half a year in prison, suspended for just two years, and ordered to cover costs of 3,600.

Following the hearing, HSE inspector Christine McGlynn said the death might have been avoided, had the employer used inexpensive equipment, like a gin wheel and bucket, to move the materials up the ladder.

McGlynn also warned employers of the dangers of an insurance breach. She said: Every employer must ensure that they will have Employers Liability (Compulsory) Insurance set up to insure against liability for injury or disease with their employees arising out of these employment.

“Where employers are located to stay breach of the requirement, they’ll be held to account by HSE.”

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