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Company director jailed after worker fell to his death

Robert Marsh, Director of RM Developments, has been sentenced to 12 months in prison after supplying illegal roofing panels that contained asbestos.

What happened?

An investigation found that Mr Marsh had supplied used roofing sheets, that contained asbestos, to a firm building a barn in Worcestershire. The offence became apparent after a 56-year-old construction worker, who had been working with the panels, fell through the fragile material and later died.

After supplying the roofing sheets, Mr Marsh hired steel erector Tony Podmore build the barn.

The sheets, however, were fragile due to the asbestos they contained, and Mr Podmore fell through them during the final stage of construction, landing on the concrete floor over six metres below.

He sustained serious injuries, and later died in hospital.

The court heard that the farm partnership had agreed to pay £4,000 for the roofing material. Mr Marsh, however, supplied pre-used roof panels that had obtained free of charge. Paying just £250 for transport, he was set to make a profit of £3,750 on the roof alone.

Additionally, the court was told that Mr Marsh had attempted to persuade witnesses to hide the sheets that he had supplied. He had told Mr Podmore’s daughter that her father had fallen from the roof edge rather than through the fragile roof sheets, and attempted to persuade her against reporting the incident to the HSE.

What was the outcome?

After initially pleading not guilty, Robert Marsh changed his plea to guilty on the first day of his trial to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and to an infringement of The Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) Regulations 2008.

He was given a 12 month prison sentence, disqualified from being a director for six years and ordered to pay £10,000 costs.

HSE Inspector Luke Messenger said:

“Asbestos fibres are a well-known and widely-publicised health risk and can
lead to fatal illnesses. The supply of materials containing asbestos
has been illegal for many years.

“Mr Marsh demonstrated a complete disregard for the law for his financial gain.
In this case, the weak second-hand panels he supplied were a significant
contributing factor to the death of Mr Podmore.

“This tragic incident also demonstrates the dangers of working on fragile roofs.
Falls from height are the major cause of workplace fatalities and
measures should always be taken to protect workers
when they are working from height.”

Source: View article

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