£15k fine for pensioner death builder

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A BUILDER has been fined £15,000 after his work led to the death of 60-year-old woman.

John Martin Riva, 49, pled guilty to breaking health and safety laws.

He had been contracted to rebuild the chimney on a property in Gifford, East Lothian between 8 August 2009 and 26 October 2009..

Riva failed to ensure that it was fully cleared of any debris and masonry materials that had fallen in.

The chimney was thus left blocked when the fire in the living room of the house was brought into use by the Ross family who lived there.

The blockage impeded the combustion process of the solid fuel fireplace in the living room, and caused the fumes from the fireplace to build up, causing an accumulation of carbon monoxide to which the three occupants of the house were exposed

Mrs Ceridwen Ross died on 26 October 2009 as a result of the exposure.

Following the case, Elaine Taylor, Head of the COPFS Health and Safety Division, said: “This case demonstrates yet again the importance of employers and contractors being aware of the risks not only to their own employees, but to all of those who may be affected by the work they carry out.

“If Mr Riva had taken the simple steps necessary to identify the risks associated with his work and acted upon them, Mrs Ross would not have lost her life in an entirely avoidable incident.

“Today our thoughts are with her family.”

HSE Inspector Gillian McLean said: “This was a tragic incident which could easily have been prevented if the accused had carried out simple and well-established tests to ensure the chimney was free from obstruction following building work he had carried out.

“These are standard and recognised tests well known to the building industry and we hope this successful prosecution will draw attention to these tests to ensure workers carry them out in the future in order to avoid similar devastating consequences.”

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