Couple sentenced to prison terms after fatal fall from roof in Newcastle

Two Newcastle men have been given suspended prison sentences after a worker was fatally injured when he fell through roof panels.

Ian Blacklin and Dennis Spence pleaded guilty to breaching safety laws after the death of the worker, who was carrying out siding work at an industrial building in North Shields.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the method used to fit materials to a fragile asbestos cement roof was unsafe.

The watchdog told Newcastle Crown Court that the precautions taken to prevent or mitigate falls from or through the roof were insufficient.

Blacklin, 60, from the village of Capheaton in Northumberland, is an independent contractor who managed the site on behalf of the client. He was sentenced to 16 months in prison, suspended for 18 months.

Spence, 53, from the Denton district of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, worked for Spence Roofing and Cladding, which has since gone into administration. He acted as site foreman on the North Shields site. Spence was sentenced to 14 months in prison, suspended for 18 months.

HSE Inspector Andrea Robbins said: ‘In this case there has been a significant failure in the planning and management of the roof covering over fragile roofing material.

“Roofing work should only be undertaken by persons who have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience, who assess the associated risks, select and use the appropriate equipment to prevent or mitigate falls, and ensure that effective supervision is in place. »

Falls from heights continue to be the leading cause of death in the construction industry. For the year 2020/21, 39 fatal accidents were recorded at work in the construction sector, which is lower than the 42 of the previous year but still higher than the five-year average of 36.

Alice F. Ponder