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Boss fined £5,000 after employee's roof-fall death near Holsworthy

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 19, 2012

A 65-year-old herdsman was killed when he fell through a plastic skylight while carrying out unsupervised repairs on a dairy roof.

William Luscombe was working on the roof for his dairy farming bosses, TRD Griffin and Son at Willsworthy farm at North Tamerton, Devon, one day in October 2010 when the accident happened.

Yesterday, at Exeter Crown Court, Roy Griffin, a partner in the business, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £8,840 costs in a case brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The court was told Mr Luscombe, of Whitstone near Holsworthy, had been lifted on to the roof in the bucket of a telehandler – a cross between a crane and a forklift – to carry out the repairs.

As he was working he fell through the fragile plastic skylight and landed on concrete three metres below. He was airlifted to hospital in Plymouth but died from his injuries.

The HSE investigation found that no plans had been made for the work as required by law – despite a sign at the site which warned of a fragile roof on the dairy.

After the case HSE Inspector Georgina Speake said: "Mr Luscombe, although an experienced herdsman, did not have any training for working on roofs and was working without supervision. No equipment was provided which could have prevented or mitigated the effects of a fall, such as safety nets or suitable boarding.

"The use of a telehandler bucket was also an inappropriate way to gain access to the roof itself."

Griffin, 60, admitted breaching health and safety at work regulations. The prosecution offered no evidence against his wife Susan Griffin, 57, who had originally been charged with the same offences as her husband.

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