An Aberdeen firm has been fined £53,000 for safety failings which led to a man falling to his death.
Joseph Kane, 56, died in September 2016 when a ladder attached to scaffolding became loose.
It had been installed to allow his employer, Henderson and Aitken Ltd, to show a client where roof re-pointing work was required at a property in Jute Street.
Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard yesterday that the firm had previously hired an external company to erect the scaffold for such work, but on this occasion, tasked an experienced – but unqualified – staff member to build it instead.
As a result the external ladder used to scale the scaffold had only been secured on one side, so when Mr Kane climbed it on September 21 it slipped sideways.
This caused him to lose his grip and fall more than 20ft to the ground.
Mr Kane hit his head on a low garden wall, and died from his injuries while being taken to hospital.
Henderson and Aitken Ltd admitted a series of safety failings at Aberdeen Sheriff Court, and appeared for sentencing yesterday.
Fiscal depute Gavin Callaghan said the company’s director, James Aitken, had incorrectly believed that the scaffolding was adequately secure.
He said that Mr Aitken told police: “We were just nipping up to survey the work, we didn’t think this would be needed.”
Mr Callaghan told the court: “In this instance the accused company totally failed to comply with the clear duties specified and that fall led to the death of an employee.”
Solicitor Clare Bone, representing the firm, said the scaffolding had been erected by a staff member, rather than a qualified contractor, due to a misunderstanding of the law, rather than to save money.
“This was not a case of profit over safety,” she added.
She added that Henderson and Aitken has since re-trained its employees, among other measures, to improve their understanding of safety regulations.
Sheriff Morag McLaughlin fined the company £53,000 and said: “This was a catastrophic incident involving a serious breach that led to Mr Kane’s death.
“No penalty can make up for the devastating consequences of that loss to his family.
“The utterly devastating impact on Mr Kane’s family is impossible to quantify and it’s clear the circumstances have had an effect on Mr Aitken and the company, and will continue to do so.”
Mr Kane’s family declined to comment as they left court.