Fife papermakers failed to make sure contractor’s work was properly planned and organised

A Fife papermaking firm has been fined £260,000 after a worker fell through a fragile roof to his death.

Thomas Sturrock fell about 50ft through an asbestos cement roof at Tullis Russell Group Ltd’s factory in September 2008.

Sturrock was working as part of a team for a contractor that was cleaning the roof of the papermaker’s warehouse.

Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court heard that Sturrock’s co-workers on the roof heard a cracking sound before becoming aware that he had fallen through the roof.

Workers in the warehouse below also heard a loud noise and saw that Sturrock had fallen through the roof to the concrete floor below.

An ambulance was called and paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene. A post mortem examination established that Sturrock died immediately following the fall.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that Tullis Russell failed to make sure the work was properly planned and organised, and when the contractor’s employees were at work, they did not control, monitor and review the way the work was taking place.

Tullis Russell of Glenrothes, Fife, were fined £260,000 after pleading guilty to breaching section three of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The case against the contractor remains under consideration by the Health and Safety Division of Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

Following the case, Mac Young, an HSE Inspector, said: “Thomas Sturrock might be alive today if simple safety measures had been put in place.

“If Tullis Russell had ensured the contractor’s activities were monitored then it is possible the incident with Mr Sturrock may have been prevented.

“Tullis Russell Papermakers had a duty to ensure the safety of everyone on their site – whether working directly for them or not.

“Companies must make sure work contractors do for them is properly planned and organised and monitor what actually happens when the work takes place.”