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Contracts manager who forged risk assessment after fatal fall jailed

15 January 2020 | By Neil Gerrard

Mark Francis Bray

A contracts manager who falsified the signature on a risk assessment of a roofer who was killed when he fell through a fragile roof has been jailed for two years.

Mark Francis Bray, 48, of Louisiana Drive, Warrington was sentenced at Manchester Crown Square Crown Court yesterday after pleading guilty to failing to take reasonable care of other persons, pursuant to section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, contrary to section 33(1)(a). He also pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.

The case related to an accident on 24 September 2015 when 54-year-old Kenneth Drake fell through a fragile roof on which he was working, to the floor below, sustaining fatal head injuries.

Drake was employed by a company called Roofing Consultants Ltd and as the contracts manager, Bray was responsible for the safety of his employees.  

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated Drake’s death and found fundamental breaches of duty on the part of Roofing Consultants Limited and also of a second company involved in the work, High Ridge Roofing Solutions. 

The investigation found that practical steps, including providing netting, which Bray insisted was not needed could have been taken to make workers safer. Experts in the field assessed the site after Drake’s fall and advised that netting was necessary. Another expert in the field stated that it was not difficult to net and if it had been installed, would have caught Drake. Experts told investigators that netting would have costed approximately £1,250 to install.

During the investigation, GMP examined Bray’s computer and found that he had altered the records in order to mislead the investigation. He presented a risk assessment document containing Drake’s forged signature.

Roofing Consultants Limited was fined £100,000 and were also ordered to pay £30,000 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to Section 2(1) Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

High Ridge Roofing Solutions Limited have been fined £12,000 and were also ordered to pay £33,000 in prosecution costs after being found guilty of Regulation 15(2) Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015 following a trial.

Detective chief inspector Richard Eales, of GMP’s major incident team, said: “First and foremost all of our thoughts are with Ken’s loving family, who have been left absolutely devastated by his death. I hope today they are provided with a measure of comfort at the end of what has been a very long and difficult road.

“Today’s result should serve as a stark reminder to those who employ people and have a responsibility to look after them in the workplace - cutting corners in this way is dangerous and can ultimately rip families apart, because it was these actions that had absolutely cataclysmic consequences and led to Ken’s unnecessary and preventable death.

“The fact that Bray went onto forge Ken’s signature demonstrates than rather than thinking about Ken and his loved ones in the aftermath of his death, Bray’s sole thought was to cover his tracks and prevent the investigation from establishing what had occurred.”

HSE principal inspector, Laura Royales said: “This was an entirely foreseeable and preventable incident which resulted in a tragic and needless loss of life. Falls from height remain the biggest cause of workplace fatalities in the UK construction industry.

“It is vital that those involved in planning, managing and carrying out work at height understand the risks and identify and implement suitable control measures to prevent injury. Had such steps been taken in this case, this incident would not have occurred.”

Speaking after the case, Drake’s wife Ingrid said: “Ken was an amazing husband and stepfather. He was a loving, caring man who made everyone laugh. We shared so many memories and its heart breaking to know we can’t share any more. It’s sad to know he’s missed out on such magical moments in our lives, like watching our daughter get married. He’s truly missed by everyone and always will be. We love you very much.

“I would like to thank everyone that has worked on Ken’s case. I know they have worked hard to bring about this prosecution.”

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