An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has resulted in a substantial fine for a Kent-based TV studio.
The HSE inquiry followed the tragic death of 38-year-old Justin Newitt, who fell through the ceiling of an empty television suite at Maidstone Studios, while converting it into a data centre.
Despite being instructed not to, Mr Newitt had crawled into the suite’s roof space to cut holes for vents. The reason for this was that the equipment supplied to perform the task from below was not up to the job.
The Health and Safety Executive’s investigation found that errors with the tower scaffolds and ladders had gone unnoticed, with the scaffold used to access the roof damaged, incorrectly assembled and purchased second hand by Maidstone Studios without the necessary instructions.
The HSE also discovered that the work itself was not part of Mr Newitt’s general maintenance remit and that the towers had been erected by the 38-year-old without the required training beforehand.
The inquest following Mr Newitt’s death heard how Maidstone Studios had failed to undertake a written risk assessment prior to the work commencing, a breach of Health and Safety regulations that also featured in the case against company.
The studio, famous for being the home of shows such as Take Me Out and Later… with Jools Holland, pleaded guilty to contravening two sections of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and received a £30,000 fine. It was also ordered to pay £6,487.76 in costs.
Commenting on the case, HSE Inspector, Stephen Green, said: “Had the work been properly planned with suitable access equipment, correctly placed and erected by those with adequate training, the work could have been done safely and this tragedy could have been averted.”
Samantha Randall, a Solicitor and employment law expert, said: “Even though this tragic case has resulted in a significant fine for the studio involved, it will mean little comfort for the family left mourning the death of a fiancé and a father.
“Although Mr Newitt went against instructions when he climbed into the roof space, the fact there was no written risk assessment in place, the equipment was substandard and there had been no formal training for what fell outside of his general maintenance duties, means this ruling was the right one.”
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