Cemex fined following death of scaffolder in Rugby

John Altoft
John Altoft
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Two companies have been fined a total of £1.3million following the death of a scaffolder who was just weeks away from his wedding day.

The court was told John Altoft, 29, from Scunthorpe was killed when he fell to his death after being struck by falling debris inside an industrial tower in Rugby.

On January 18 2012, a team from Cape Industrial Services Ltd were installing an access scaffold to enable the relining of the inside of a steel plated tapered cylindrical structure at the Cemex Cement Works in Rugby.

Warwick Crown Court heard the team was working inside the Cyclone 1 tower when concrete debris dropped on to John Altoft causing him to fall seven metres to the bottom of the structure causing fatal head injuries. His colleague Ty Smart was also seriously injured, suffering serious wrist and arm fractures and has been unable to work since the incident.

Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told the court that both Cemex UK Operations Ltd and Cape Industrial Services Ltd Scaffolding should have co-ordinated and planned this high risk work to a higher standard.

Cemex UK Operations Limited, Coldharbour Lane, Surrey, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £700,000 and was ordered to pay £90,783.78 in costs.

Cape Industrial Services Limited, Stockley Bridge, Uxbridge, Middlesex pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £600,000 was ordered to pay £90,783.78 in costs.

HSE Inspector, Sue Thompson, said: “John Altoft should have been celebrating his wedding, but instead his family suffered a terrible loss.

“This was an entirely preventable incident and proper planning and protection from the foreseeable danger of falling material would have prevented this from happening.”

Michelle Altoft, John’s mum, said: “John was very loyal and hard working. He turned into the most handsome, caring young man, and I could not be more proud of him. He would help anyone and be there when you needed him.

“I have lost the most precious thing any mother could lose, and will never be replaced – my child.”

Carly Sargent, John’s fiancé, said: “Even now, two years on I still miss John. Mine and John’s life together was taken away from us. We grew up together. He worked hard all his life with the intention of becoming my husband and having a family. This is all he wanted. We both wanted the same things.”

A Cemex spokesperson said: “Cemex UK, once again, extends profound sympathy to the family and friends of John Altoft. It is of deep regret and sadness that the incident occurred despite strict health and safety procedures that were in place for both contractors and employees at our Rugby cement plant.

“Since the tragic death of John Altoft in 2012, we have worked closely with the Health and Safety Executive and the wider cement manufacturing industry to develop new working practices in the hope of preventing this kind of accident ever happening again.”