Oxford Architects Partnership of Oxford was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £60,000 costs after admitting breaching CDM regulations admitting it had flouted regulations 13 and 14, which require designers to take safety considerations into account.
The practice had been working on the Exchange conference centre in Bridgwater, Somerset, when Dan Cairns, an employee of subcontractor H&F Air Conditioning, fell to his death in January 2005.
The 64-year-old was working on the air conditioning plant which was a built on a platform accessed via a ladder at the edge of a flat roof. The roof only had a low parapet which was not high enough to prevent him from falling 9m to the ground.
Speaking after the hearing, the Health & Safety Executive’s inspector Sue Adsett, commented: “While it is rare for designers to be charged with breaching health and safety legislation, they must be aware they can be held responsible where bad design is an important contributory factor to a work-place fatality”.
“Designers must ensure that plant and equipment can be accessed safely and that safety harnesses are only used as a last resort.”
London-based Express Park Construction Company, which was the main contractor on the site, also pleaded guilty to safety breaches. The firm was fined £75,000 and ordered to pay costs of £68,000. The CDM Coordinator was not found to be in breach of any regulation.