The fatality of a worker who fell while carrying out work on a roof has resulted in Satellite TV installation firm Foxtel Ltd being prosecuted.

Engineer Noel Corbin, 29, from New Addington, Croydon, suffered fatal head injuries after falling 13.5 metres from a four-storey house onto a side patio in Belsize Park, London on 3 February 2008.

The Old Bailey heard safety equipment found in Mr Corbin’s van was unsuitable for the type of work he was undertaking.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation after the incident exposed a number of failings at Foxtel Ltd including failure to ensure work at height was properly planned, organised and monitored.

The Old Bailey heard Mr Corbin was working on a satellite TV dish on the property’s roof apex and had accessed the roof via a dormer window. Before his fall he was also seen working on another satellite dish located on a flat roof. Evidence suggests Mr Corbin fell from the flat roof itself or while walking across the sloping roof.

The court was told when Mr Corbin was first employed by Foxtel Ltd, references were not sourced from his previous employer, nor were any training certificates provided. Mr Corbin was also not accompanied on any initial visits so therefore no assessment could be made of his competence.

As a result, the HSE investigation concluded as soon as Mr Corbin stepped onto the roof, he was at high risk of slipping, tripping or falling. Most of the work on satellite dishes Mr Corbin undertook involved work at height on large properties with more than two storeys.

Foxtel Ltd, based in Wates Way, Brentwood, Essex, pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Today, the firm is no longer trading and was shown to have no assets. The court fined the company £1m.
Charles Linfoot, HSE inspector, said:

“Mr Corbin’s death has had a devastating effect on his family made all the more tragic by the incident was easily preventable. Owing to the foreseeable risk of falling and the lack of suitable access equipment, the work should have been cancelled.
“Foxtel should have carried out a full site-specific risk assessment, planning and organising the work to be executed in a safe manner. It is not acceptable to simply delegate health and safety duties to employees without adequate instruction, training, monitoring or supervision.

“I hope the conviction of Foxtel Ltd sends a clear message to other installation companies in London and elsewhere that where access to residential properties from height is required, companies are ultimately responsible for carrying out a full site-specific risk assessment.”