Healthcare firm ordered to pay over £260,000 after death in accident at work

by Redmans on December 2, 2013

  • SumoMe

A St Helens-based healthcare firm has been ordered to pay over £260,000 in fines and costs after it was found guilty of health and safety breaches that led to the death of a worker.

TRU Limited was fined £170,000 and ordered to pay £82,145 towards the costs of the prosecution after Mr Peter Winchurch, a self-employed joiner, died after falling from height from a semi-detached house in Skelmersdale on 9 November 2009.

Mr Winchurch had been working on roof trusses for a house extension when he slipped and fell from the scaffolding that he was working on. He fell almost six metres (almost twenty feet) to the ground below and sustained critical head injuries. He was rushed to hospital but died the next day from his injuries.

The case was brought to the attention of the Health and Safety Executive and an investigation subsequently ensued into TRU Limited, which was in charge of the site of the construction site where the accident occurred. This investigation found that there had been the following health and safety breaches by the company:

  • There was a lack of suitable equipment to protect employees from falls from height
  • No risk assessments were undertaken by TRU Limited prior to the work being started
  • No method statements were produced to delineate how the work was to be done
  • TRU Limited staff were not trained in health and safety

The HSE therefore recommended that TRU Limited be prosecuted for health and safety offences.

The case came to the Liverpool Crown Court on 18 November 2013 and a five-day hearing ensued, with TRU Limited (now trading as TRU (Transitional Rehabilitation Unit) Ltd) pleading not guilty to two separate breaches under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. However, the Crown Court found the company guilty of these offences and fined it £170,000 and ordered it to pay £82,145 towards the costs of the prosecution.

Anthony Polec, an inspector at the Health and Safety Executive, stated after the judgment: “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.”

Chris Hadrill, an employment law solicitor at Redmans Solicitors, commented on the case: “Businesses have an obligation to not only train their staff in the job that they’re doing but also to ensure that they’re adequately trained in health and safety.”

Redmans Solicitors are unfair dismissal solicitors and offer settlement agreement advice to employers and employees

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