Contractors fined after fall from height fatality

Two contractors have been fined after a colleague died falling from height on a site in Northern Ireland.

In September 2020, self-employed contractor James Carlisle, 58, was working to replace the roof of a shed in Hillsborough, County Down. But Carlisle fell more than 4 metres from an “unguarded platform” and died at the scene, Lisburn Magistrates’ Court heard this week.

The prosecution, led by the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) found there were “no control measures in place” at the site to prevent falls from height, and that the methods of work were “inherently unsafe”.

It said: “The platform consisted of three timber planks spanning an internal shed wall and a cage supported by a telescopic handler. There were no control measures in place to prevent falls from height during the construction work and the method of work employed was inherently unsafe.”

Carlisle had been working alongside two other self-employed contractors, James Wadsworth and Paul McMullan.

Wadsworth, from Lisburn, and McMullan, from Dundrod, were fined £1,000 each for breaching Article 5(2) of the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978.

HSENI major investigation team inspector Lee Dougan said all employers have a “legal responsibility to plan and organise work to ensure it can be carried out safely”.

“If work at height cannot be avoided, a safe means of access must be provided such as mobile elevated work platforms or suitably constructed scaffolding,” he added.

Falls from height are the biggest cause of death on construction sites, causing a quarter of fatalities in the year to March 2021, according to statistics from the HSE.

Data for April 2021 to December 2021 revealed that 41 per cent of deaths in the sector were caused by a fall from a height.

The construction industry remains the most dangerous industry in the UK, and accounted for a quarter of all workplace fatalities in the year to March 2022.

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