A safety testing company’s lax rules for its own employees were exposed after one of its senior engineers fell to his death while inspecting the rooftop safety system at a Bradford DIY store.

Paul Voller, 31, died after plunging about 30ft through a skylight at the B&Q store on the Euroway Trading Estate, Bradford magistrates heard yesterday.

The court was told how Mr Voller’s employers, Nottingham-based First Testing Ltd, had only just got the safety testing contract for all B&Q’s stores and it was the first time any of its staff had been up on that roof. Subsequently not much was known about it, including how many roof lights there were and where they were.

When Mr Voller, of Blidworth in Nottinghamshire, was found after the accident in May, 2007, it was discovered his safety harness was still clipped to his lanyard as if he had been on the ground – not working high up.

Solicitor Tim Edge, representing First Testing, said it was “with great regret and frankly recognised” by his client that this had been the case.

Family-run First Testing pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees, in particular Mr Voller, when inspecting the roof fall arrest system that day and was fined £12,000 for that offence.

It also pleaded guilty to not carrying out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of risks to people other than its own employees while the work was carried out, and for that charge it was fined £2,500.

In addition, the company admitted further charges of failing to have staff adequately trained in rescue procedures and for undertaking employee competency assessment only on an ad hoc and unrecorded basis. No separate fines were imposed for those offences because “the wrong-doing” was covered in the first fine, said District Judge Susan Bouch.

In summing up, the judge said although those “defects” of the company did not cause the accident, they still gave rise to the likelihood of such accidents happening.

She spoke of First Testing’s “systematic failure” and the “aggravating factor” of Mr Voller’s death saying all possible steps should be taken by any company to keep their employees and third parties safe.

But she said she had also taken into account the company’s acceptance of guilt at the outset, its co-operation throughout and that remedial acts had been taken.

“There was no suggestion by the prosecution these defects were motivated by profit-making. I also accept the company had a good safety record,” she said.

First Testing was also ordered to pay £5,778.56 costs and a £15 victim surcharge, the prosecution had originally requested £7,278.56 to cover legal costs and its investigation.

The court heard how First Testing now ensured its vans had rescue kits in case of falls and that its staff were trained what to do, records are also now being kept of every harness and lanyard issued.

However, Patrick Field QC, prosecuting on behalf of Bradford Council, told the court: “These are things that ought to have been done before this accident rather than as a consequence of it.”

He had earlier pointed out even if Mr Voller had been connected to the safety running line and fallen he would still have been left suspended in mid-air and First Testing’s only “unacceptable” rescue plan would have been to ring and wait for the emergency services.