Judge fines for safety breaches on worksite
Matthew Skeet (19) and Kevin Ruffles (57) were killed when the gable wall of a barn conversion they were working on in Worlingworth collapsed and fell on them on October 21, 2010. Ipswich firm Elliston Steady & Hawes, the site contractor, and Barry Potts, 65, a structural engineer from Freston, appeared before Ipswich Crown Court, having previously pleaded guilty to health and safety offences at an earlier hearing.
The incident was investigated by the Joint Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team, working closely with the Health and Safety Executive.
Last June Potts was summonsed to court for two counts of manslaughter by gross negligence and one offence under the health and safety act, and legal representatives for a local building were issued summons for two offences under the health and safety act. At a hearing at Southwark Crown Court in December, guilty pleas were offered on behalf of Potts and ESH in relation to health and safety breaches.
Justice Rabinder Singh acknowledged there was never any suggestion ESH’s failing had caused the two men’s deaths, and said no cause could be proven with Potts’ failings. However, he said, Potts had fallen “well below the standards expected by him of the health and safety at work act” and fined him £15,000, ordering him to pay a further £5,000 in costs.
And although he agreed that ESH was “entitled to rely upon” Potts to carry out the work safely, Singh said its failure to ensure that written statements were provided, constituted a “serious breach” and fined the firm £45,000, ordering it to pay a further £15,000 in costs.