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Safety plea over plunge; TRAGEDY: Warning as worker dies in scaffold fall.

Byline: By Dale Williams

THE Health and Safety Executive was today urging employers to protect staff who work at heights following an "entirely preventable" tragedy in Northampton in which a man from the Black Country was killed.

The accident happened in a warehouse when 36-year-old Darren Handley, a refurbishment worker from Dudley, died after falling more than 20ft from a scaffold tower.

A case at Northampton Crown Court this week saw Spanclad Ltd, based in Smethwick, fined pounds 80,000 and ordered to pay pounds 10,000 costs after pleading guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Principal contractors for Spanclad, Westminster Building Co, based in Derby, were fined pounds 40,000 and ordered to pay pounds 10,000 costs after pleading guilty to breaching part of the same act.

The two companies were prosecuted by HSE following an investigation of the incident.

HSE Inspector Richard Lockwood said: "This was an entirely preventable incident which led to a death. Mr Handley was killed when he fell from a tower scaffold, which was not the right equipment for the work he was undertaking and was also erected incorrectly.

"The access to the scaffold was across fragile materials, which presented another significant danger to the worker.

"This tragedy could have easily been avoided if the two companies had properly planned the work to ensure adequate safety measures were in place for people working at height."

On October 25, 2004, Mr Handley was one of four workers employed by Spanclad to carry out the re-cladding of a warehouse at Scottish Courage Ltd, Lodge Farm Industrial Estate, in Northampton.

Mr Handley was working on the tower positioned on timber boards, which were placed on top on a fragile cement sheeted canopy in the warehouse loading bay.

The top rail of the scaffold was missing and the tower was placed at an angle on a weak support base, causing it to move.

Mr Handley fell approximately seven metres from the tow er scaffold, through the canopy onto the yard below, suffering fatal injuries.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Aug 13, 2008
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