Monday, 26 October 2015

Company Fined For Death Of Window Cleaner

Kevin Dolan plunges through open floor-to-ceiling window of Pountney Hill House while cleaning huge glass pane from inside without harness.
Window cleaner falls to his death from third storey of Grade II-listed building: A window cleaner plummeted to his death from the third-storey window of a Grade II-listed building in the City after bosses failed to ensure safe working conditions, a court heard. Kevin Dolan, 57, fell to his death through the open floor-to-ceiling window of Pountney Hill House, in central London, while cleaning the huge glass pane from the inside. The Old Bailey heard his death on October 18, 2012 was caused by a lack of safety measures, such as harnesses or rope access.

Surrey-based cleaning company Blades (London) Ltd took immediate responsibility for his death and pleaded guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety Act. Directors Bob Sawyer, Darren Sawyer and James Curtis sat at the back of court as their business was handed a £45,000 fine. Judge Richard Kramer QC said: "Nothing this court can does today can, sadly, turn the clock back. Moreover, it is insidious to try to place a value on the loss of life."

Mr Dolan had been working in the four-storey office block when he fell from an open third-storey window. The window opened into the room like a door, so it was possible to clean from the inside - although there were no barriers to prevent a fall, prosecutor Alastair Smith said. The court heard there was no rope access, no harnesses and no fall arrest or restraint. There were "eye bolts" built into the building, but they were not being used. Mr Smith added: "The method attempted was almost certainly the quickest, but almost certainly the least safe."

Mr Dolan was a close personal friend of the Sawyer brothers and Curtis, who opened the commercial cleaning company in 2007. The firm specialised in providing services, including window cleaning, to commercial premises in the City of London and relied heavily on subcontractors. Mr Dolan was described as more experienced than his bosses, who would turn to him for advice.

Their barrister Mark Balysz said: "The company is devastated by the loss of their friend and is truly sorry for it." He said the windows at Pountney Hill House had been cleaned in the same way for many years, adding: "It took the death of a friend to realise the risk to which they had put themselves, Kevin and others."

Blades (London) Limited, of Wallington, pleaded guilty to a single charge of breaching general duty to an employee under the Health and Safety at Work Act. The company was fined £45,000 and ordered to pay £7,500 costs.

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