Bethell Construction and Future Environmental Services were fined yesterday for a fatal fall from height in Oldham

Two companies have been fined £300,000 following the death of a labourer in an Oldham sewerage overflow.

Preston-based Future Environmental Services and Manchester firm Bethell Construction were each fined £150,000 after the death of Joseph Alan Reynolds. He fell five metres over an unprotected edge in the Snipe Clough consented sewerage overflow in Oldham on 17 October 2003.

The companies were found guilty at Liverpool Crown Court on two charges. The first, for which each was fined £100,000, was for failing to adequately protect the health and safety of someone not in their employment.

The second charge, for which each was fined £50,000, was for failing to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of persons not in their employment.

Bethell Construction had been hired by United Utilities to carry out maintenance work on the CSO. They, in turn, had hired Future Environmental Services to carry out the work. Bethells were in control of the site.

Reynolds was hired out by his employer Daniels Contractors to Grisedale 2000. Grisedale then hired out Reynolds and his colleague Thomas Cullen to Future Environmental Services to work on the sewerage overflow for two days. They were to clear debris from the main sewer, which lay 12 metres underground and is reached via a landing.

HSE Inspector Christina Goddard, who led the case for HSE, said Reynolds and Cullen had not known about a gap in the landing as they made their way down the sewerage overflow: “Alan and Thomas simply did not see the opening. The opening was not needed, and should have been properly barriered off, to prevent anyone from falling. It was sheer good luck that Thomas did not fall as well.”

Future Environmental Services and Bethell Construction were also ordered to pay costs of £14,079 and £49,110 respectively.