5 Year prison sentence: Manslaughter trial puts working at height back into focus

Published: 12 Oct 2016

In recent months there has been a marked increase in deaths resulting from working at height. In most cases the basic fundamentals of meeting minimum health and safety requirements are not being met.

The owner of a building firm (Colin Jeffrey, who owned the firm Utterly Gutterly) was sentenced at Exeter Crown Court on 14 October after a two week jury trial, following the death of the 17 year old on 4th December 2014. Colins was accused of unlawfully killing the teenager and not following laws pertaining to working at heights. The task which ultimately resulted in a loss of life involved accessing a roof to paint a chimney.

On 4 December, the teenager, Mason Beau Jennians was found unconscious after falling from a ladder in Devon. He was taken by air ambulance to hospital, where he died on 5 December due to multiple injuries.

During the trial, the jury heard how health and safety laws and those specific to people working at heights were not being followed. In addition it was also noted that the business owner refused to pay for scaffolding, and expected his workers to do the job using only ladders.

To protect your business from suffering a similar fate, suitable and sufficient risk assessments need to be put in place with potential hazards and control measures identified.

The risk assessment must also highlight that dangerous tasks are not permitted for young persons to undertake. Working at heights of above 3 meters is a job that needs to be left with competent contractors where factors such as using the correct PPE and equipment safety come into effect.

The correct training also needs to be undertaken by individuals working at height.

If you need help with risk assessments, training, or any other advice on this or other health and safety matters contact us so our health and safety experts can advise on how best to keep your business safe.