THE Bradford employers of a factory worker who fell more than five metres to his death through a fragile skylight "missed ten opportunities to save his life."

Richard Perry suffered fatal head injuries when he landed on a concrete floor at Whiteghyll Plastics, based on City Road, Bradford, in June 2014.

The firm was fined £120,000 at Bradford Crown Court today after admitting failing to ensure the safety of Mr Perry and his, then, colleague Mark Cromack.

Mr Perry, a 43 year-old father from Garforth, Leeds, had been employed as a plastic fabricator at the firm for 18 years.

On June 13, 2014, he got onto the roof through a TV room window to fix pieces of vinyl to a series of skylights, in a bid to block out sunlight and lower the temperature in the fabricating workshop.

The workroom was described as “hot and uncomfortable”, with the skylights unable to open and a ventilation system that had been broken “for some time.”

Various staff, including the pair's line manager Ronald Edwards, had heard the pair talking about their plans and seen them actually on the roof at numerous points throughout the day.

An inquest into Mr Perry’s death in November last year returned a verdict of accidental death as the jury could not determine whether the pair had permission to be on the roof.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the incident found that “there were no precautions in place to prevent either man falling through the skylights or from the roof”, adding that it wasn’t necessary to get onto the roof to do what they were trying to do.

Stephen Uttley, prosecuting, said: "There was a clear failure to address safety on the day of the accident.

“Mr Perry and Mr Cromack spent a considerable time on the roof and there were numerous opportunities missed by staff and management to stop them working on it.

“We say Mr Edwards could and should have stopped them accessing the roof, but he didn’t.

“The risks should have been obvious to anyone in a management role.

“Supervision fell short of acceptable standards.”

Miles Bennett, mitigating for the firm, described Whiteghyll Plastics as a "small, close-knit company" where Mr Perry’s brother still worked.

“Nothing can begin to compare with the loss of Richard to the Perry’s," he said.

"Tragedy barely does justice to this case.

He added that Mr Perry’s death was a genuine and dreadful loss as he was an “outstanding member of the workforce.”

“The simple fact is, no-one should have been on the roof," he said.

“The company can still not understand why when someone in a junior management position was told someone might go on the roof, why they didn’t do more about it.

“This is not the case where senior management were aware of, or allowed things, to take place."

Mr Bennett conceded that the company had not paid to fix the air conditioning in the workroom, but claimed it “wouldn’t have made any difference” to the case.

He said the company had complied with the HSE investigation, had no previous convictions, and had taken steps to prevent accidents of a similar nature by placing grills under the skylights and preventing employee access to the room the pair accessed the roof from.

Judge Jonathan Rose said Mr Perry had told management about his idea of putting vinyl on the skylights on a previous occasion, but had been told the company would not entertain the idea, despite knowing of complaints about the heat since moving to the premises in 2000.

He said that on the day of the accident, Mr Edwards knew of Mr Perry’s plan to “do the job himself” and did not intervene.

“Mr Edwards did not expressly forbid the men going on the roof, nor did he escalate what he perceived to be a dangerous situation to management above him," the judge said.

"It was either tacit approval or the turning of a blind eye. Showing anger to warn them off is simply not adequate.

“There were numerous opportunities missed by staff and management to stop the men working on the roof. I find that there were ten such missed opportunities.

“There was clear evidence that Mr Perry had an idea to deal with this issue. Mr Perry and Mr Cromack had not been instructed to go onto the roof, but were not on a frolic of their own.

“These men were departing from the norm, but it was clear that the risk was great, and the risk was serious injury or death.

"This is a case of missed opportunities. Ten missed opportunities to save his life.”

The court heard that the company, which manufactures signage and displays, employs around 70 people and had a turnover of £7.4 million last year.

It was fined £120,000, with £40,000 due to be paid by December 1, and two further payments of the same amount by December 2017 and 2018.

It was also ordered to pay £37,655 in costs.

In a victim statement to the court, Mr Perry’s widow, Samantha, said she was eight weeks away from giving birth to their second son at the time of her husband's death.

“It smashed our lives into little pieces which we had to try and re-build," she said.

“He was cruelly taken away from us.

“Richard was so looking forward to meeting his second son.

“Every time I look into his eyes I feel an immense sadness that he will never meet his amazing daddy.

“Not only did my boys lose their daddy, I lost my husband, my best friend, and my soulmate.

“I feel like my heart was ripped out and died with him.

“I kissed him goodbye on the morning of Friday the 13th and he never came home.

“His place of work failed to look after him and allowed this horrible accident to happen.”

Speaking outside court after the verdict, she added: "I’m very happy at what the judge said, happy that they’ve finally pleaded guilty and admitted that they were at fault and caused Richard’s death.

“I’m happy we can finally close the chapter on this.

“It’s totally shattered our lives, I’ve got a baby that will never know his father and an eight-year-old son who is disabled. My parents have had to turn into parents for their grandchildren, and Richard’s mother and his family are missing him terribly. It’s torn us all apart.”

Andrea Jones, the HSE inspector involved in the investigation, said: “The level of fine is not going to bring back Mr Perry, but it gives out a strong message to the rest of the industry about the dangers of working on roofs that are fragile and working near fragile roof lights.

"It sends out the message that management have to adequately supervise their staff and make sure they’re not carrying out any dangerous activities.”

Ruth Farmer, managing director of Whiteghyll Plastics Ltd, commented: “The company has always accepted that there were failures in the supervision and management of Richard Perry and Mark Cromack on June 13, 2014, hence pleading guilty at the first opportunity in this case.

“Richard Perry’s death has been a massive loss not only to his family but also to our company, which always considered him to be a model and well-loved employee. He is sorely missed.”