Advising with empathy and experience

Fine following fatal accident at work.

In 2007 Thomas Whitmarsh fell 5.2 metres while working on a construction site at Menai Shopping Centre, Bangor, Gwynedd. Thomas, 21, suffered major head injury, significant brain injuries, impaired speech and co-ordination and hearing loss in addition to contracting meningitis and going blind in one eye.

He tragically died of his injuries in  November 2009.

Judge Parry at Mold Crown Court imposed a fine of £450,000 on building firm Watkin Jones & Son in addition to £98,000 in legal costs. The judge stressed that the fine did not and could never attempt to reflect the loss of life.

Mr Whitmarsh had been working on the new Menai Shopping Centre in Bangor. At the time of the accident Mr Whitmarsh had been working at his new job for just ten minutes. The jury heard that voids in the roof of the Shopping Centre were protected by scaffold bars and covers; however the void that Mr Whitmarsh fell through had no protection whatsoever.

Judge Parry stated that Watkin Jones & Son instructed two labourers without any experience of working on a roof, without any training, instruction or protection, to go up and remove scaffolding protection from around the void. The company had denied breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 but the judge concluded that they had fallen “far below” the standard of care that could be reasonably expected.

Kim Daniells of the CNCI Team said  "this is a tragic case and a sad reminder that employees continue to be exposed to danger whilst at work. At a time when 'health and safety' is criticised for stifling growth it is essential that employers understand the need to take adequate steps to protect their staff".