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Fine follows death of AC subcontractor after fall

A contractor and an architect’s practice have been fined nearly £200,000 after a subcontractor fell nine metres to his death while working on air conditioning plant on a Somerset project.

David Cairns, 64, was working on the plant at the Exchange building site in Bridgwater for H&F Air Conditioning, a subcontractor for Express Park Construction, when the incident took place.

The plant was built on a platform accessed via a ladder at the edge of a flat roof. The roof only had a low parapet, which was not high enough to prevent him from falling nine metres to the ground.

Express Park Construction of Harley Street, London, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for failing to safely manage subcontractors working for it.

The architects involved, Oxford Architects Partnership, of Bagley Croft, Oxford, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 13, and 14, of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994, which require designers to take safety considerations into account.

Express Park was fined £75,000 and ordered to pay costs of £68,000, while Oxford Architects Partnership was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay costs of £60,000 at Bristol Crown Court.

HSE Inspector Sue Adsett said: “This is a tragic case where both the failings of the construction firm and the architects led to Mr Cairns’ death.

“While it is rare for designers to be charged with breaching health and safety legislation, they must be aware they can be held responsible where bad design is an important contributory factor to a workplace fatality.”

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