Manager forged dead worker’s signature, jailed for two years

The Contracts Manager of a roofing firm has been jailed after forging health and safety documents after a worker fell to his death. On 24 September 2015, Kenneth Drake was working on the roof of an ironmongers in Rochdale when he fell through a fragile roof light. He sustained fatal head injuries.
An investigation by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and the HSE found there had been fundamental breaches of duty on the part of those who organised the work to the roof – being Drake's employers, Roofing Consultants Ltd and a second company who was also involved in the work, High Ridge Roofing Solutions.

Netting should have been provided, but Roofing Consultants' contracts manager Mark Bray insisted it was not needed. Experts in the field assessed the site after Drake’s fall and advised that netting was necessary. Another expert in the field stated that it was not difficult to net and if it had been installed, would have caught Drake. Experts told investigators that netting would have costed about £1,250 to safely install.

Manchester Crown Court was told that following the incident, Bray copied Drake’s signature on a risk assessment document to make it appear as if he had agreed to procedures on the £55,000 project.

Roofing Consultants Ltd was fined £100,000 plus £30,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching s 2(1) Health and Safety at Work Act. High Ridge Roofing Solutions Ltd was found guilty of breaching reg 15(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. It was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £33,000 costs.

Earlier (at the same Court) Mark Bray was sentenced to serve two years in prison, after admitting failing to take reasonable care of other persons, pursuant to section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Act, contrary to section 33(1)(a). He also pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.
After the hearing, Detective Chief Inspector Richard Eales for GMP said “These sentences should serve as a stark reminder to those who employ people and have a responsibility to look after them in the workplace - cutting corners in this way is dangerous and can ultimately rip families apart, because it was these actions that had absolutely cataclysmic consequences and led to Ken’s unnecessary and preventable death, " He went on to say; “The fact that Bray went onto forge Drake’s signature demonstrates than rather than thinking about Mr. Drake and his loved ones in the aftermath of his death, Bray’s sole thought was to cover his tracks and prevent the investigation from establishing what had occurred."

Principal Inspector Laura Royales for the HSE said: “This was an entirely foreseeable and preventable incident which resulted in a tragic and needless loss of life. Falls from height remain the biggest cause of workplace fatalities in the UK construction industry.” She concluded by saying; “It is vital that those involved in planning, managing and carrying out work at height understand the risks and identify and implement suitable control measures to prevent injury. Had such steps been taken in this case, this incident would not have occurred.

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Authors: Ernie Taylor

Published: 03 Feb 2020

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