Pair receive jail terms after fatal roof fall in Newcastle

Two Newcastle men have been given suspended jail terms after a worker sustained fatal injuries falling through roof panels.

Ian Blacklin and Dennis Spence pleaded guilty to breaching safety laws after the death of the worker, who was carrying out over-cladding work at an industrial building in North Shields.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the method used for installing material over a fragile asbestos cement roof was unsafe.

The watchdog told Newcastle Crown Court there were inadequate precautions to prevent or mitigate falls from or through the roof.

Blacklin, of the Northumberland village of Capheaton, was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months.

Spence, of the Denton district of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, was sentenced to 14 months in jail, suspended for 18 months.

HSE inspector Andrea Robbins said: “In this case, there was a significant failure to plan and manage the over-cladding of roofs over fragile roofing material.

“Roof work should only be undertaken by people who have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience, assessing the associated risks, selecting and using appropriate equipment to prevent or mitigate falls, and ensuring effective supervision is in place.”

Falls from height continue to be the biggest cause of death within the construction industry. For the year 2020/21, 39 fatal injuries were recorded at work in the construction sector, which was lower than the 42 in the previous year but still above the five-year average of 36.

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