£170k fine for scaffolding death

A St Helens healthcare firm has been fined £170,000 for serious safety failings following the death of a joiner who fell nearly six metres from scaffolding.

Peter Winchurch, a self-employed joiner, was hired to help build an extension to a semi-detached house on Bromilow Road in Skelmersdale when the incident happened on 9 November 2009.

TRU Ltd, which was in charge of the construction site, was prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive after an investigation found the scaffolding was dangerous.

This was due in particular to a lack of guard rails and inadequate decking. In addition, TRU's site employees were not trained in safety, there were no risk assessments and there were no method statements.

During a five-day trial at Liverpool Crown Court, the jury heard that TRU specialises in providing rehabilitation for people with brain injuries, but that it also took on some building projects.

Winchurch, 68, from Skelmersdale, had been working on the roof trusses for the extension to the house when he fell from the scaffolding. He suffered critical head injuries and died in hospital the following day.

TRU (Transitional Rehabilitation Unit), was found guilty of two separate breaches of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company, of Haydock Lane in Haydock, was fined £170,000 and ordered to pay a further £82,145 in prosecution costs on 22 November 2013.

Anthony Polec, HSE inspector, said: "The failings by TRU Ltd were a significant cause of Mr Winchurch's tragic death.

"The scaffolding was clearly dangerous, which meant that the risk of a worker being killed or seriously injured in a fall was highly foreseeable.

"The safeguards required were reasonably practicable, and there is much published guidance on the subject from HSE and the construction industry."

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