Property owners jailed after worker fell to his death

A businessman in charge of converting an old mill in Blackburn has been jailed, and his father, the owner of the building, given a suspended jail sentence following an incident in which a Lithuanian worker died in a fall.

The worker, Ivars Bahmanis, a Lithuanian national living and working in Blackburn, was involved in building work at the former canal works building at Manner Sutton Street when he fell nearly eight metres and died as a result. During the investigation HSE discovered that another employee Juris Lesinkis, a Latvian national living and working in Blackburn, had fallen from a height and broken his leg at the same site, an accident which was not reported to HSE.

At the sentencing hearing on the 19 May, Preston Crown Court heard that Bahmanis was carrying out refurbishment work involving installing metal brackets for new roof joists when the incident happened on the 29 January 2012. While he was working alone he fell from the wall, due to a complete lack of safety measures being in place.

Three members of the same family who had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to the charges received the following sentences.

Tameem Shafi, 31, of Clarence Street, Blackburn, who was in charge of the project, was sent to prison for 45 weeks for two breaches of regulation 6 (3) of the Work at Height regulations 2005.

Mohammed Shafi Karbhari, 59, of Clarence Street, Blackburn, the owner of the mill, was sentenced to 24 weeks imprisonment suspended for 2 years and ordered to pay £20,000 towards prosecution costs for breach of regulation 9 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007

Umar Shafi, 20, of Clarence Street, Blackburn, who was in charge of the work on the day, was sentenced to 120 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay £3,900 towards prosecution costs for two breaches of regulation 6 (3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

The prosecution followed an investigation by HSE which found that the defendants had failed to plan the work at height, employ competent contractors, that they had deliberately chosen to save money and were well aware that work was being carried out in an unsafe manner using unskilled workers.

Following the case HSE inspector Allen Shute said: "The dangers of working at height are well known – and can be easily and safely managed. It needs to be properly planned and carried out by competent contractors.

"The defendants tried to save money by asking unskilled workers to carry out hazardous work activities around the building. As a result Mr Bahmanis died needlessly in a horrifying incident which could and should have been prevented. There had also been a previous incident on site where another worker fell from height and broke his leg, which was never reported to HSE and only came out during the investigation. This should have served as a warning to them."

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