Working at height

Cover Up of Health & Safety Violations in The Case of a Death Leads To Prison For Men

Posted By Kerry on 2017-03-17 09:37

Unfortunately it is something that we hear all too often. Someone being hurt because of a flagrant and often stupid health and safety violation. In the case of Benjamin Edge who was 25 and a father of one, those health and safety violations led directly to his death. What perhaps makes this case worse for the family of Ben Edge is that the people who were responsible for his health and safety not just failed, but then went on to try and cover up that failure. Yesterday, Chris Brown, 26, and James Brown, 31, were jailed for 20 months for their part in perverting the course of justice in the case.

The essence of the case was this, Ben fell off a roof that he was working on in wet and windy conditions and his injuries led to his death. He was working on the roof with no harness and no forethought had been put into either preventing an accident or mitigating the effects of accident. There was no risk assessment undertaken before the job was undertaken.

A Cover Up Begins

The cover up quickly began, in the hours after Ben was rushed to hospital his employers at SR and RJ Brown desperately tried to cover their own failings. Peter Heap, 34, who had been working on the roof alongside Ben, brought harnesses to the site after the tragedy.

The Court was told that Heap was trying to make it look like the victim, was at fault for failing to use safety gear provided. James Brown, 31, a director of SR and RJ Brown, falsified risk assessments which should have been completed beforehand. The cover up failed because other employees of the two businesses involved in the work simply refused to go along with it. 

The Browns’ firm, SR and RJ Brown, based in Golinrod, Bury, has admitted corporate manslaughter and failing to ensure the safety of their workers. The firm were fined £300,000. MA Excavations, the Ramsbottom firm who contracted the work to SR and JR Brown, have admitted corporate responsibility for exposing workers to risk and has been fined £150,000. Mark Aspin, of MA Excavations, has admitted failing to ensure work was managed and planned safely. He was jailed for 12 months. Heap received four months in prison, suspended for two years.

This is another sad case, a young man dies because of stupid and flagrant violations of health and safety law. Perhaps the worst thing of all is the fact that the people involved immediately went out to cover up their failings. For Ben's family the fact that people are going to prison is cold comfort for the loss. And without taking away from their loss this incident has had a huge effect on the lives of many people who were involved. 

A life lost, businesses destroyed, jobs lost, people going to prison. Simply because proper health and safety precautions were not taken.