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Construction firms sentenced over worker's fatal fall

The construction site where Christopher Heaton fell to his deathTwo construction companies have been fined a total of £301,000 after a worker fell 22 metres to his death in Manchester.

Christopher Heaton, from St Helens, was working on the Leftbank riverside apartments in Manchester city centre - part of the Spinningfields development - when he was dragged over the guardrail on a scaffolding platform after becoming entangled in a chain.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the site's principal contractor, Amec Group Ltd., and steel-erection company Shawton Engineering Ltd. following an investigation into Mr. Heaton's death.

Liverpool Crown Court heard the 25-year-old suffered fatal injuries after falling approximately seven storeys on 29 April 2004. Another worker, who does not want to be named, was also injured and the incident has had a long-term psychological impact on him.

The court was told Mr. Heaton had been using a chain from a scaffolding platform to adjust a steel beam three stories above him, when one of the supporting brackets gave way. He was struck by a falling steel block, became entangled in the operating chain, and was dragged over the edge of the scaffolding.

An HSE investigation into the incident found that the wrong studs had been used to secure the chain, and that the work had not been properly planned or monitored.

Amec Group Ltd. was found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety etc. Act 1974, by failing to ensure the safety of workers, following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court. The company, of Birchwood Boulevard, Birchwood, Warrington, was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay £333,866 towards the cost of the prosecution on 29 June 2012.


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