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Maidstone TV Studios fined for health and safety failing after death of Justin Newitt

By William Janes

A TV studios has been fined £30,000 after a maintenance worker fell five metres through a roof to his death.

Maidstone Studios in New Cut Road admitted breaching safety regulations following the tragic death of Justin Newitt.

While converting an empty television suite into a data storage room for servers, the 38-year-old from Downswood had ignored instructions by crawling into a roof space to cut holes in the roof for vents.

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38-year-old Justin Newitt with partner Jemma Webb
38-year-old Justin Newitt with partner Jemma Webb

The work was planned to be carried out from below, but an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found no-one noticed errors with the towers, ladder sections being the wrong way round, damaged bracing, or an inadequate guardrail.

The tower scaffold used to access the roof was also damaged, had not been put up correctly, and was bought second-hand by the firm with no manufacturer’s instructions.

This work was not part of the general maintenance duties for the father-of-two and his team and no formal planning was recorded.

The towers were erected by Mr Newitt, but he wasn't given any formal training on how to do it properly, the Health and Safety Executive found.

Mr Newitt's tragic fall took place at Maidstone Studios
Mr Newitt's tragic fall took place at Maidstone Studios

Although he was supervising the work, no checks were made of how it was actually being carried out.

An inquest into Mr Newitt's death last year heard how an investigation found the studios had breached regulations by not carrying out a written risk assessment before the project started, although several meetings had happened to address how the work had been carried out.

Mr Newitt and others were told a number of times not to cut from the roof – something he did the day before his fall.

Maidstone Studios Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching two sections of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

In addition to the fine it has been ordered to pay costs of £6,487.76.

HSE inspector Stephen Green said: "Had the work been properly planned with suitable access equipment, correctly placed and erected, by those with adequate training, the work could have been done safely and this tragedy could have been averted."

On the morning of his death a lead for the electric chainsaw he was using got twisted.

Trying to untangle it, the18-stone builder stepped backwards on to a piece of roof he had already cut and fell, hitting the side of the scaffold tower and then the floor.

He suffered head injuries and a tear to his liver before passing away the same day.

The jury gave a verdict of misadventure.

His fiancée Jemma Webb described him as an excellent father who always went out of his way to help people.

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