Liverpool businessman fined £112k over roof fall death

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A Liverpool businessman has been fined £112,000 after a labourer died following a fall from the roof of an industrial unit, just months after another worker was injured in a fall at the same site.

John McCleary fell 15 feet while fitting roof panels at a construction site in Toxteth being managed by Taj ul Malook Mann. He lost his balance while on a narrow beam he was using as no scaffolding had been erected.
The industrial unit in Toxteth where John McCleary fell[1]

The industrial unit in Toxteth where John McCleary fell

The 51-year-old father-of-two, from Toxteth, was paralysed from the waist down and died of pneumonia just over seven months later as a result of his injuries. Mr Mann was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following Mr McCleary’s death.

Liverpool Crown Court heard Mr Mann had hired Mr McCleary to fit roof panels on an industrial unit he owned in High Park Street, Toxteth. But no scaffolding was supplied and Mr McCleary had to carry out the job while standing on four-inch wide steel beams, leading to him losing his balance and falling.

He underwent an eight hour operation after the incident on 12 June 2008 and was readmitted to hospital in December with illnesses related to his condition. He died on 27 January 2009.
Video image taken from John McCleary’s mobile phone showing the unsafe work

Video image taken from John McCleary’s mobile phone showing the unsafe work

During the HSE investigation, video was discovered which had been filmed by Mr McCleary on his mobile phone in the weeks before his fall. It shows labourers carrying out work while on top of the narrow roof beams.

Investigations also revealed a bricklayer had escaped with minor injuries after falling from scaffolding at the site in an earlier incident. The worker had refused to continue working for Mr Mann after the incident.

Mr McCleary’s aunt, Beryl Swanwick, said:

“John was a very special person – thoughtful, kind, caring and unselfish. His death has left a void in all our lives that cannot be filled.

“We are all devastated by his loss, which is made worse by the nature of his death. Having been paralysed by falling from the roof, he then went on to suffer immeasurably in a critical care unit for one month before he died.

“We miss his voice, his face and everything about him. Nothing can compensate us for the loss of John.”

Taj ul Malook Mann, of Queen’s Drive, Liverpool, admitted four breaches of health and safety regulations after failing to take steps to prevent a fall which could have resulted in injury, and failing to ensure that work on his site was being carried out safely. He also did not fulfil his legal duty to report the incident to HSE.

He was fined £112,000 and ordered to pay £19,331 in prosecution costs on 13 January 2012.

Speaking after the hearing, the investigating inspector at HSE, Kevin Jones, said:

“Property developers must understand that health and safety rules need to be adhered to at all times, regardless of how small a project may be.

“As the project manager at the site, Mr Mann was in charge of buying in materials and employing people to carry out work, but he completely failed to take any steps to protect his workforce. John McCleary was balancing on narrow beams with absolutely nothing in place to stop him from falling.

“Had Mr Mann used scaffolding or netting as he should have done, John McCleary would still be alive today. I sincerely hope that this case acts as a warning to other property developers who think that the law doesn’t apply to them.”

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