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Tom Gent defends Darlington Borough Council in Health & Safety Prosecution

On the 16th of January 2019 Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court heard how, in October 2017, a self-employed labourer was working for two self-employed bricklayers sub-contracted to Darlington Borough Council. The labourer was walking past the front of the building plot at Allington Way, Darlington, when a pack of roof trusses fell on him, trapping him by the head and arm.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the work activities at the site at Allington Way, Darlington. Led to the council being charged with breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015.   Contributing factors to the incident included inadequate arrangements for the storage of roof trusses, failure to manage the amount of materials on site, failure to plan for parking of vehicles on site and poor housekeeping on site.

On the Health & Safety Executive’s analysis of the case the Council faced a fine with a starting point of £2.4 million, according to the Definitive Guideline on Sentence.  However, following a plea of guilty, Mr Gent made submissions which resulted in the District Judge finding that the level of culpability and likelihood of harm were lower than had been advanced by the prosecution.  The Judge was further persuaded that , being a public body, any fine would have a significant impact on the provision of the Council’s services and therefore imposed a fine of £28,000.

Tom Gent is the head of the Health & Safety Team at Park Square Barristers and is Ranked in Tier 1 for Regulatory, Health and Safety, and Licensing – The Legal 500 (2018)


Contact Tom’s clerk

Madeleine Gray on 0113 202 8603

Patrick Urbina on 0113 213 5250

This article is available to download.