Bosses jailed after trying to cover up details of fatal fall

Following the incident safety failings were covered up, a new risk assessment was written and an employee was sent home to collect harnesses to make it look like the accident was Mr Edge’s fault, because he had not worn safety equipment.

In December 2014, Benjamin Edge, fell from the roof of a metal structure he was helping to dismantle in Bury. After suffering catastrophic head injuries, he died hours later at Salford Royal Hospital. At the time of the fall, Mr Edge was working for SR and RJ Brown and was working on a site run by Marshalls Mono.

A joint investigation by the HSE and Greater Manchester Police looked into the circumstances surrounding Mr Edge’s death. MA Excavations Ltd, contracted out the work to brothers Christopher and Robert ‘James’ Brown, directors at SR and RJ Brown Limited.

Mark Aspin, director at MA Excavations Ltd said he believed the Browns were ‘competent’ and could complete the job safely, but did not check their qualifications. Robert ‘James’ Brown composed a ‘grossly inadequate’ risk assessment before the job which he did not show to anyone.

After Mr Edge was rushed to hospital he then typed up another risk assessment, which should have been done beforehand.

Peter Heap, 34, who had been working alongside Mr Edge was asked by Christopher Brown, 25, to go home and collect harnesses to make it look like the accident was Mr Edge’s fault, because he had not worn safety equipment. “Foolishly, weakly and criminally – as he now realises – Peter Heap went along with what he was told to do,” Mr Justice Openshaw said. The Browns maintained that the harnesses had been there before the incident, although they did admit falsifying the risk assessment.

SR and RJ Brown Limited, of which brothers Christopher and Robert Brown are directors, was fined £300,000 after admitting corporate manslaughter.

Christopher Brown and Robert Brown pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice and two counts of health and safety breaches. They were jailed for 20 months. A count of manslaughter for the brothers is to lie on file.

Mark Aspin, 37, was sentenced to a year in jail after admitting health and safety offences.

MA Excavations Ltd, of Garden Street, Ramsbottom, which contracted out the work – was fined £75,000 after pleading guilty to two health and safety breaches.

Employee Peter Heap, 34, was spared jail after he followed orders to bring safety harnesses to the site after his colleague had fallen to try to conceal what had happened. His four-month sentence for perverting the course of justice, which he had admitted, was suspended for two years.

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