Businessman jailed after Lithuanian worker killed in fall from roof of Blackburn mill

hseA businessman in charge of a project converting an old mill has been jailed after a Lithuanian worker was killed in a rooftop fall.

Tareem Shafi, 31, was sent to prison for 45 weeks after a court found that the worker’s death was caused by a lack of health and safety measures being in place.

The worker, Ivars Bahmanis, a 55-year-old Lithuanian national living and working in Blackburn, was killed when he fell from the roof of the mill whilst undertaking building works on 29 January 2012.

On the day in question Mr Bahmanis was carrying out refurbishment work on the roof of the old mill. This refurbishment work involved installing metal brackets for new roof joists and, while he was installing the roof brackets, he slipped and fell eight metres from the roof. He subsequently died at the site.

The Health and Safety Executive were notified of the incident and investigated. This investigation found that there had been numerous health and safety breaches by Tareem Shafi (who was in charge of the project), his father Mohammed Shafi Karbhari (owner of the mill), and his brother Umar Shafi (who was in charge of works on the day). These breaches included a failure to plan work taking place at height, a failure to employ competent contractors, and knowledge that work was being carried out in an unsafe manner using unskilled workers. The investigation report therefore recommended that Mohammed Shafi Karbhari, Umar Shafi and Tareem Shafi be prosecuted for their breaches of health and safety.

The case came to the Preston Crown Court on 19 May 2015, with the court finding that all three were guilty of health and safety breaches.

Tareem Shafi, 31, was imprisoned for 45 weeks for two separate breaches of Regulation 6(3) of the Height at Work Regulations 2005.

Mohammed Shafi Karbhari, 59, was sentenced to 24 weeks’ imprisonment (suspended for 2 years) and ordered to pay £20,000 towards the costs of the prosecution for breaching Regulation 9 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

Umar Shafi, 20, was sentenced to undertake 120 hours’ paid work and ordered to pay £3,900 towards the costs of the prosecution for two separate breaches of Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

HSE Inspector Allen Shute commented on the case: “The defendants tried to save money by asking unskilled workers to carry out hazardous work activities around the building. As a result Mr Bahmanis died needlessly in a horrifying incident which could and should have been prevented. There had also been a previous incident on site where another worker fell from height and broke his leg, which was never reported to HSE and only came out during the investigation. This should have served as a warning to them.”

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the news: “Persons supervising or undertaking construction work have duties to comply with health and safety regulations. A failure to do so may result, as in this case, in heavy fines and/or prison sentences being imposed.”