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Lancaster carpet retailer prosecuted after worker's roof fall

John Freeman
Lancaster carpet retailer A Cut Above has been prosecuted for breaches of the Health and Safety Legislation after a worker was seriously injured when he plunged from a roof onto the ground below.

On the 10th February  2012, David Sowerby and Janet Stretch, partners in a business known as A Cut Above on Bulk Road, Lancaster, pleaded guilty to the offences and were fined a total of £15,000, with £2,037.52 costs and a £15 victim surcharge in Lancaster Magistrates’ Court.

The prosecution came about following an investigation by Lancaster City Council’s Environmental Health Officers.

The Court was told that on 28th February 2011, employee Jamie Heywood, after a request from his employers, went onto the roof of the retail shop and warehouse to fix a leaking skylight, without being given adequate instruction, training or supervision in working at height.

Heywood then fell through a fragile asbestos roof onto the concrete floor below, suffering a brain haemorrhage. He was admitted into intensive care, where he underwent emergency surgery and remained in hospital for over a month.

“Jamie was extremely lucky to survive," commenetd Coun Karen Leytham, Cabinet member with responsibility for environmental health. "The work on the warehouse roof should not have been carried out without proper assessment and implementation of a safe system of work. The fall could have been avoided had appropriate safety measures been taken.

“Falls from height are the biggest cause of workplace deaths and it is crucial that employers make sure work is properly planned, appropriately supervised and that sufficient measures are put in place to protect staff from these risks.”

• Local businesses need to ensure adequate safety measures are in place before any staff carry out work heights.  If in doubt about their responsibilities, they should consult the council’s Environmental Health Service on 01524 582936.