Did cheapskate council cause death of painter Raymond Jessop?

Posted: December 12, 2009 in Broken Britain

In a Britain gone stupidly overcautious on health and safety issues how did this happen?

The Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians has called for an urgent inquiry into whether cost-cutting by a local authority and its contractor led to the death of a worker in Hull this week. Raymond Jessop, 53, died after falling from a ladder while painting a council property in Cranswick Grove in Hull on Tuesday.

IlieMr Jessop was employed by Kier Building Maintenance which is responsible for the repair and maintenance of 10,000 Hull City Council properties. Inquiries made by UCATT found that Mr Jessop had been working on a major project repainting 170 properties.

A UCATT official who visited the site noted there was sufficient room for scaffolding to be erected or a mobile platform to have been used, rather than having to rely on a possibly unstable ladder. The decision to use ladders was apparently taken because the workers were not trained in using tower scaffolding units and because “cost was an issue.” Wouldn’t the obvious solution be to employ painters trained in tower scaffolding use.

Union officials claim they have obtained Kier health and safety steering group minutes, Yorkshire regional secretary Derek Johnson said: “All the evidence indicates that a decision to use ladders was taken on grounds of cost. This decision has had fatal consequences and a worker has died”.

They also claim the use of ladders on a project of this scale is not in accordance with advice provided by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which recommends that ladders should be used “for low risk, short duration work”.

UCATT also intend to raise concerns that workers were being pressurised to finish the project in the belief that delays would lead to a loss of pay.

A full investigation has been launched into the circumstances surrounding Mr Jessop’s death by the HSE and Humberside Police.

The company is waiting for the results of the investigation before they make any further comment.

Many friends have paid tribute to Mr Jessop who has been described as “a very kind and very gentle man” with a passionate commitment to honesty and fairness.

Families Against Corporate Killing spokeswoman Hilda Palmer said: “This was the tragic and total unnecessary death of a man because his life was deemed by his employers not to be worth the cost of doing the job safely. “Raymond Jessop did not deserve to die because of a cost-cutting exercise and, for their failure in the duty of care they owed him, his employers should be held to account.”

The Health and Safety Executive confirmed that it was in the process of investigating the death.

******A PERCY POINT OF INFORMATION******

The HSE estimate that on average 12 workers are killed every year after falling from ladders. Last year (2008/9) 53 construction workers were killed and falls were the most common type of fatality, causing 21 deaths.

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