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Lessons to be learned after boy fell to death from roof scaffolding; Coroner says builders must take action to protect children.

Byline: By LIZ WALKER

A LAD of seven should not have been allowed to get on to the roof where he fell to his death, a coroner said.

Builders were told lessons needed to be learned after Adam Tiffin plunged from scaffolding.

An inquest heard how the youngster should not have been able to access scaffolding which led to the roof of a three-storey block of flats near to his home in the Glebe estate, Washington.

Recording a narrative verdict after the three-day hearing, Gateshead coroner Terence Carney told those involved that lessons needed to be learned from the tragedy to protect children, even from themselves.

He said: "Adam died while at play having fallen from a roof to which he should not have had access to.

"I hope the organisations involved might identify from this death some effective and practical ways that the care of children, even if they are doing something they ought not to be, can be effectively ensured and they are protected even from themselves and at all times."

The verdict was welcomed by Adam's grieving mum Paula Tiffin, 38, of Roche Court, Washington. She said: "The bairns should not have been able to get on to the scaffolding in the first place. It was like a climbing frame to them. Someone needs to take responsibility for what happened to Adam and make sure another mum doesn't lose a son."

The court heard how at the time of the accident in April last year, renovations were being carried out to a number of properties across the Glebe estate by Lovell Partnership on behalf of the property owners Sunderland Housing group, now rebranded as Gentoo.

But following the three-day hearing, Mr Carney said he had found a "singular lack of reference" to safety issues regarding children, despite "extensive guidance" on the matter from the Health and Safety Executive.

Residents told the court how they had reported that children were using the scaffolding as a "climbing frame".

Adventurous Adam, his brother Dylon, then eight, and their pals had shimmied up poles left unsealed by workmen in Dryburgh Court and climbed through an opening in a platform. They then used a ladder on the scaffolding to clamber all the way to the roof where they had made a play den.

But on April 23 last year their childhood games came to tragic end when Adam fell from the roof. He suffered multiple injuries and died instantly.

The court heard from Lovell site manager David Tumility that he had received a report in January that children had climbed poles to reach a scaffolding platform in a different part of the estate and then used a ladder inside to reach a roof.

He said: "I took the decision to remove the ladder. I believed that was removing the risk."

He added that in the case of the Dryburgh scaffold he had not thought it necessary to seal off the scaffolding or the opening or to remove the ladder.

The Health and Safety Executive carried out their own inquiry into the incident and are considering the verdict of the inquest before deciding if any further action is to be taken.

After the inquest, Lovell managing director Stewart Davenport said: "Lovell has co-operated fully with the investigation carried out by the Health and Safety Executive. We are unable to make any further comment at this stage."

CAPTION(S):

TRAGIC ACCIDENT: Adam Tiffin fell from scaffolding at a block of flats near his home on the Glebe estate; SCENE: The block of flats from where Adam Tiffin fell to his death; GRIEVING: Adam's mum Paula Tiffin
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 27, 2007
Words:602
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