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Companies fined £400k over death of tower worker

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 24, 2012

Police on the scene of the building site at Swansea Marina

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TWO companies have been fined almost £400,000 after the death of a scaffolder who fell more than 60 foot to his death.

But one of the companies, Febrey Limited, which admitted contributing to the death of 40-year-old Russell Samuel will have to pay just £1 after it was put into liquidation.

Judge Paul Thomas said he would have fined them £250,000 but said he could not because they had no assets and they had to pay a nominal sum of £100, which is added to their debts of more than £6 million. Each creditor will receive just 1p in every pound meaning the owed amount is just £1.

Carillion were fined £130,000.

Mr Samuel, from Rhondda, died on January 24, 2008, two days after he fell 19 metres down a stairwell shaft inside a housing block in Swansea marina - adjacent to the Meridian Tower. Mr Samuel was a subcontractor for Febrey Limited and was working inside Ferrara Block B, adjacent to Swansea's Meridian Tower.

Febrey Limited, and their managing director, Michael Febrey, as well as the company running the site, Carillion Limited, have each admitted two counts of breaching health and safety laws.

Swansea Crown Court heard Mr Samuel was dismantling a scaffold access ladder, which was set up inside an empty stairwell, when he fell 19 metres through a hole in the middle.

The hole had been covered by a brittle concrete board, not designed to be weight-bearing.

The prosecution, brought by the Health and Safety Executive, said a risk assessment had not been completed for use of the dismantling of the ladder.

Ian Dixey, prosecuting, said a carpenter working underneath was almost hit by Mr Samuel's body, but he had taken a step backwards, seconds before.

Mr Dixey said: "When taking down scaffolding, someone needs to give thought to the method and to the risks that occur when that's being carried out. These risks are not only to the people dismantling it, but to anybody working underneath. It's plainly obvious that hadn't been considered".

The prosecution said it highlighted a number of health and safety breaches at the site, where Febrey alone employed more than 100 people.

Mr Dixey said health and safety management before the accident was "inadequate" and said there was "no systematic approach to risk assessments" which were completed on an "ad hoc basis" and work often happened without them in place.

The prosecution said that although Carillion Ltd had records of telling Febrey Limited they had concerns they also knew the situation had not got better and said Carillion had not done enough to comply.

Mr Dixey said: "You can keep raising things, but unless you take positive action, they're not actually going to get much better."

Judge Paul Thomas said Carillion had accepted their wrongdoing and although they were pro-active, they did not "do enough".

"Nagging, warnings and meetings are one thing, but positive action is another," he said.

The judge said Febrey's attitude was "casual at best, cavalier at worst,".

Febrey, 43, from Bristol, will be sentenced at a later date.

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