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Why Planning Work is So Important

A farmer in Wrexham, Wales, was forced to pay almost £30,000 after a worker died falling through a cowshed skylight. Robert Latham, owner of Knolton Farm, pleaded guilty to breaking the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) following the death of David Alan Rees in July 2018.

21 May 2019

There’s the persistent attitude that health and safety arrangements at work are an unnecessary paperwork exercise, demanded by bureaucrats and more time-consuming than the task itself.

Well, if you were ever in doubt that safe systems of work were crucial to a healthy workforce, then this recent story may change your mind. A farmer in Wrexham, Wales, was forced to pay almost £30,000 after a worker died falling through a cowshed skylight.

Robert Latham, owner of Knolton Farm, pleaded guilty to breaking the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) following the death of David Alan Rees in July 2018.

North East Wales Magistrates’ Court were informed that the 56-year-old was clearing moss from the cowshed’s guttering when he fell from the roof. The exact time of the incident is unknown, but Mr Rees, who’d been working at the farm on a casual basis, was found on the floor of the building under the skylight. An ambulance was called, but sadly Mr Rees passed away from his injuries in hospital.

The prosecutor suggested that the moss had made it difficult to spot the positions of the skylights, but also noted that there had been no safe system of work in place. As a result, Mr Latham was fined £26,000 along with legal fees of £3,992 and a £170 surcharge.

Although Mr Latham had no previous record of disregarding health and safety procedures, had a safe system of work been in place, along with a risk assessment to identify hazards, implement control measures and provide a step-by-step approach to the job at hand, the accident could have been avoided.

HSE inspector Mhairi Duffy said: “Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers and contractors in the safe system of working. If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the death could have been prevented.”

Always ensure a task is properly planned prior to undertaking it, and if you need further guidance on how to achieve this then please get in touch with us. Let’s work together to make all workplaces safer for everyone, and to prevent accidents like this from happening again in the future.

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