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EDF Energy Contracting fined £160k over worker death

EDF Energy Contracting has been fined £160,000 after a maintenance worker fell to his death at a school in West Sussex.

Employee James Gordon, 63, had been dismantling a mobile tower scaffold – used to carry out high-level maintenance to lighting and heating appliances – in the sports hall of Worthing High School in August 2007 when he fell.

Chichester Crown Court heard the top working platform had been removed and Mr Gordon was on an intermediate platform when he is believed to have stumbled. There were no handrails to save him and he fell more than 5m, suffering fatal head injuries, the Health and Safety Executive said.

HSE inspector Russell Beckett said Mr Gordon had been due to retire in two years time when he died, leaving behind a widow and a number of grandchildren.

He warned: “All too often tower scaffolds are used incorrectly without the correct handrails. All working platforms must be provided with suitable edge protection. Guard rails should be at least 950mm high and an intermediate guard rail should be provided so that workers can’t fall through any unprotected gaps.”

EDF Energy Contracting, which had been appointed by West Sussex County Council to carry out the work, pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations over the incident.

EDF was ordered to pay full costs of £24,594.98, in addition to the fine.