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Construction company bosses jailed for employee death and attempted cover up

Written by Phoenix Health & Safety
24th March 2017
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On 10 December 2014, 25 year old Benjamin Edge died after falling from a shed roof at a quarry in Ramsbottom, Lancashire. His employers had sent him to work on the roof without safety equipment in wet and windy conditions.

As a result of this tragic incident and their 'flagrant' attempts to cover up health and safety breaches, construction company SR and RJ Brown was fined £300,000 for corporate manslaughter. Furthermore, company bosses Christopher and James Brown received 20 month jail sentences for perverting the course of justice.

Manchester Crown Court heard that James Brown falsified risk assessment forms to make it look like they had been completed beforehand. 

Also prosecuted was Peter Heap, another SR and RJ Brown employee who had been working on the shed roof with Mr Edge. The court heard that he brought safety harnesses to the site after the event - an attempt to make it look as though the victim had been at fault for failing to use safety equipment. Heap received a four month prison sentence suspended for two years. 

Mark Aspin, a director of quarry owners MA Excavations was the fourth prson prosecuted over the incident. After admitting failure to ensure the work was managed and planned safely he was jailed for 12 months. MA Excavations admitted corporate responsibility for exposing workers to risk and received a £150,000 fine. 

The Browns and Heap continued with 'deliberate falsifications' when interviewed by the police. But Heap later admitted his part in the cover up to police, and other employees of the two companies refused to go along with the deceit. 

At Manchester Crown Court, prosecutor Andrew Thomas QC said: “The work which Mr Edge was performing presented an obvious risk of death or at the very least serious injury. No safeguards whatsoever had been provided either to prevent a fall or mitigate the effects of a fall. These were flagrant breaches of legal duties which the law imposes on the employer.”