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Workplace Tragedy

Magistrates have given a construction boss a custodial sentence after a labourer was crushed to death while working on a house-refurbishment project in Liverpool.

David Hartley, a director of North West Facilities, received a suspended 26-week jail term over the incident.

The company hired self-employed worker Jakub Fischer as a subcontractor on a project for property firm Thorndyke Developments on Mansell Road in Liverpool.

The 41-year-old, originally from the Czech Republic, was tasked with demolishing a rear-yard wall on 5 June 2019.

When a neighbour returned home from work at around 5.40pm that day, they saw Fischer trapped between a collapsed section of the yard wall and an outer kitchen wall. He was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency services.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the demolition work was not accounted for in the construction-phase plan.

No risk assessment or method statement was provided, according to the safety watchdog, which also found that Fischer was not trained to carry out safe demolitions.

The HSE said the system of work implemented by Thorndyke Developments and North West Facilities prohibited non-English-speaking workers from carrying out demolitions.

Thorndyke Developments, of Rodney Street, Liverpool, pleaded guilty to breaching the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. It was fined £100,000 by Wirral Magistrates’ Court and ordered to pay £8,401.59 in costs.

Hartley, of Trearddur Road, Holyhead, Anglesey, also pleaded guilty to breaching the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. He was given 26 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay £5,836 in costs.

HSE inspector Christine McGlynn said: “HSE will not hesitate to consider the roles of not only organisations when investigating serious incidents, but also those individuals such as directors and managers who are the controlling minds and best placed to direct work and ensure that it is carried out without risks to health and safety.”

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