Two Northern Ireland firms fined over death of roofer

Two Northern Ireland contractors have been fined after a worker died after falling through a fragile asbestos roof.

On 28 May 2014, Raymond Morgan, a 43-year-old, was working alongside his colleagues at an old factory site in Newtownards, County Down. They were stripping asbestos sheeting which was then lowered to the ground using a scissor lift. A little after noon, Morgan fell through the asbestos roof from a height of five metres and crashed onto a concrete floor. He died of his injuries the next day.

Leslie Wright was the local demolition contractor and construction firm H Miskimmin Limited from Donaghadee, County Down, was the main contractor on site. They were carrying out demolition, site clearance and removal of asbestos materials.

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland carried out investigations after the incident and found that neither contractor had preventative measures in place to protect workers from falling off or through the roof.

Leslie Wright was fined a total of £90,000 and given a nine-month jail sentence suspended for two years. He was also disqualified as a director for 10 years. H Miskimmin Limited was fined £45,000.

Both contractors were sentenced last week at Belfast Crown Court after earlier pleading guilty to breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Order.

Speaking after the sentencing, health and safety inspector Anne Cassidy said the death was avoidable.

“Where working at height cannot be avoided, all contractors must ensure that safety measures are put in place to prevent falls and protect workers. Where necessary, employers should not hesitate to seek competent advice,” she said.

Earlier this year, data released by Britain’s Health and Safety Executive, which does not include Northern Ireland, found that 10 out of 24 construction workers who died between April and December 2021 were killed by a fall from height. It is the leading cause of working place deaths in construction.

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