Burneside decorator died after falling from Gatebeck house roof, inquest hears

Geoffrey Davis

Geoffrey Davis

First published in News The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A PAINTER and decorator may have fallen to his death while repairing a roof because of ‘a momentary mistake’ that caused him to lose his grip.

That was the conclusion drawn by health and safety inspector Christopher Smith at the jury inquest into the death of Geoffrey Davis, 59.

Mr Davis, of Burneside, plunged to his death last summer while carrying out repairs on a property in Gatebeck.

Mr Smith, who investigated the incident, explained to the court that he had seen several incidents of people losing their footing on ladders.

“Going on experience only, I would think he has lost his footing or missed his grip with his hand,” he said.

Coroner Ian Smith added: “It was a momentary mistake with fatal consequences.”

The court heard that the father-of-five had been working on two-storey Mount Pleasant with retired builder Thomas Lynott when he fell on July 27.

The pair had arrived at the house at around 9.45am and spent half an hour ‘lashing’ the aluminium ladder to the roof timber.

A second, smaller ladder was also fixed onto the roof.

Although there were minor infringements of health and safety law — such as the ladders being domestic rather than industrial — they had tied the ladder safely, according to safety expert, Mr Smith.

It is believed they had been working for around 10 minutes when Mr Davis fell, after saying he was going to fetch some more tools.

Mount Pleasant resident Rosemary Mason was outside when the accident happened. She said: “I saw him in mid-air and saw him land.”

However, she told the inquest: “I’m as certain as I can be that he didn’t fall on the ladder because I have a thing about ladders and it’s a very short, steep roof. I’m very wary of people on ladders.

“I didn’t think he was on the ladder at the time. But neither did I see him on the roof. I’m not absolutely sure where he was.”

But safety inspector Mr Smith said: “If Mr Davis had been carrying a bucket then he would have been going up the ladder with one hand. That’s a very common cause of accidents.

“People miss a rung and that can cause accidents.”

Mr Davis’ body was also found close to the base of the ladder.

He was taken to the Royal Preston Hospital, where he later died from multiple head and chest injuries.

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

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