Three company directors have been jailed for health and safety offences after a 63-year-old worker fell to his death through a warehouse roof.
Firat Ozdil and Ozgur Ozdil, directors of Essex-based property company, Ozdil Investments Limited, and Kadir Kose, sole director of architectural metalwork firm Koseoglu Metal Work Limited, were handed jail terms of between eight and 12 months over the death of Nikola Valkov at a warehouse in Essex in April 2015. Their two companies were also convicted of corporate manslaughter and breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and fined a total of £1.06m.
Chelmsford Crown Court heard how Firat and Ozgur Ozdil had hired their friend Kadir Kose and his company Koseoglu Metal Work to repair the roof of the Ozdil House warehouse, which was owned by their business, Ozdil Investments. Although both the HSE and Harlow District Council warned Ozdil Investments about the dangers involved in the repair work and the need to provide safety measures such as fall arrest netting, Firat and Ozgur Ozdil paid Kose and Koseoglu Metal Work to carry out the work without such precautions.
The court heard that Koseoglu Metal Work, which specialises in manufacturing architectural metalwork, such as steel staircases and balconies, had no experience of roofing work. Kose failed to carry out a risk assessment at the site and sent staff employed by his company onto the roof without any training.
Mr Valkov, a Bulgarian national, plunged to the ground after stepping on a discoloured skylight. He suffered serious head injuries and died later in hospital.
The court heard the fee paid by the Ozdils for the work was approximately £100,000 less than a recognised roofing contractor would have charged.
Prosecutor Christine Agnew QC told the court the skylight was not obvious and the roof was covered in dirt and lichen, according to a report in the East London and West Essex Guardian. There was no safety netting, harnesses, hard hats or ladder and a 'home-made cherry picker' was used to lift people and materials, the newspaper reported.
At a hearing at Chelmsford Crown Court in September 2016, Koseoglu Metal Work admitted a charge of corporate manslaughter and breaching section 3 of the HSWA. Its director Kadir Kose admitted breaching section 3 of the HSWA.
Ozdil Investments denied corporate manslaughter and breaching section 3 of the HSWA, and Firat and Ozgur Ozdil also denied breaching section 3 of the HSWA.
Following a four-week trial which concluded in February 2017, Ozdil Investments and Firat and Ozgur Ozdil were found guilty of all charges.
Firat Ozdil, aged 42 of Enfield, north London, was jailed for 12 months and Ozgur Ozdil, 33, of Chingford, east London, for 10 months. Kadir Kose, aged 52, of Islington, north London, was jailed for eight months, and all three men were disqualified from being company directors for 10 years.
Ozdil Investments, of Ozdil House, River Way in Harlow, was fined £500,000 for the corporate manslaughter offence and £160,000 for the HSWA offence. It was also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £55,115.34.
Koseoglu Metal Work, whose registered office is in Palmers Green, north London, was fined £300,000 for corporate manslaughter and £100,000 for the HSWA offence. It was also ordered to pay costs of £21,236.
Speaking after the case, Luke Bulpitt, a specialist prosecutor with the Crown Prosecution Service’s Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, said: “By ignoring the safety measures they knew were required, the Odzils and their company risked the lives of everyone working on the roof in an attempt to save money.
“Kadir Kose and Koseoglu Metalworks undertook the work to the roof without taking any appropriate safety steps, gambling with the lives of their employees.
“Faced with the evidence against him, Kose and Koseoglu Metalworks admitted their guilt but the Ozdils and their company contested the charges. However, having heard the compelling case put forward by the prosecution, the jury returned guilty verdicts.”
Recently retired detective inspector Ian Jennings, Essex Police’s investigating officer in the case, said: “Nikolai Valkov was utterly failed by Firat and Ozgur Ozdil, Kadir Kose, and the companies they ran.
“His death was completely preventable and has caused an immeasurable sense of sadness and loss to his family.
“These men now face a significant amount of time in prison to reflect on their actions – or lack of them – and I am pleased they will not be able to put anyone else’s safety at risk.
“I hope their sentences will bring some solace to Nikolai’s family. It won’t bring him back though, and that is something his loved ones have to deal with every day.”
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