Prison for manager who altered documents after an employee fell to his death
Mark Francis Bray was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court yesterday (14 January) to two years in prison as the result of an employee falling to his death and Bray subsequently forging the man's signature on a risk assessment document.
Roofing Consultants Ltd, the company Bray was working for, was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £30,000 in prosecution costs.
It was on Thursday 24 September 2015 that 54-year-old roofer Ken Drake fell through a fragile roof on which he was working to the floor below. He sufferd severe head injuries from which he died.
He was employed by Roofing Consultants Ltd, of which Mark Francis Bray, who lives in Warrington, was the contracts manager responsible for the safety of employees.
Greater Manchester Police and the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) jointly investigated the incident. The court heard from them that there had been fundamental breaches of duty on the part of those who organised the work.
Practicable steps that could and should have been taken to ensure the safety of Ken and his colleagues working on the same site had not been taken.
These steps included providing netting, which Bray insisted was not needed. Experts who assessed the site after the incident advised that netting was necessary. Another expert stated that it was not difficult to net and if netting had been installed it would have caught Ken. Experts told investigators that netting would have cost approximately £1,250 to install safely.
During the investigation, Greater Manchester Police examined Bray’s computer and found he had altered records, which could have misled the investigation. A risk assessment document contained Ken’s forged signature.
Bray pleaded guilty to failing to take reasonable care of other persons as required by section 7 of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974, contrary to section 33(1)(a). He also pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.
Roofing Consultants Ltd pleaded guilty to contravening Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
High Ridge Roofing Solutions Ltd, another company involved in the work, was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £33,000 in prosecution costs after being found guilty of contravening Regulation 15(2) of the Construction Design & Management Regulations 2015 in a separate trial.
Police Detective Chief Inspector Richard Eales said after the court case: “First and foremost all of our thoughts are with Ken’s loving family, who have been left absolutely devastated by his death. I hope today they are provided with a measure of comfort at the end of what has been a very long and difficult road.
“Today’s result 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.
“The fact that Bray went on to forge Ken’s signature demonstrates than rather than thinking about Ken 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.
“This has been a thorough and meticulous investigation, led by a dedicated team of detectives from our Major Incident Team as well as professionals from the Health & Safety Executive, and following today’s result I would like to publically thank them for their commitment.
“My final words are reserved for Ken and I hope this sentence – and the fact Bray will have to serve a prison sentence – serves as justice for him and his family.”
HSE principal inspector Laura Royales 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. 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.”