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Director fell to his death while working on roof

A health and safety inspector told an inquest that the right precautions had not been taken to ensure safety before a man fell 30ft to his death from a roof.

Father-of-three Keith Ragan, 51, from Hilda Brooks Way, New Costessey, was working with his brother Nigel at Fitzmaurice Court, on the Valleyside industrial estate in Wymondham, when the tragedy happened in April.

Mr Ragan was a director with family firm The Oaktree Partnership, based in Wymondham, which has specialised in building for 30 years.

Mr Ragan, his brother and colleague Stephen Cullum were replacing lights at an industrial unit in the town when Mr Ragan fell through the roof. Mr Ragan had been moving around one of the wooden boards placed on the roof when he fell, and he was pronounced dead later that day at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.

An investigation into the accident was launched by the Health and Safety Executive and an inspector, Frank Sykes told a Norwich inquest yesterday that there were not enough wooden boards on the roof and they were not wide enough.

He said: “There should have been enough wooden boards placed on the roof for the men not to have to move them around. They also did not have a safety net underneath the roof, which they should have.”

He added: “If you had been experienced or competent in roof work, you would not have stepped on to that roof.”

The men were also working on asbestos cement roofs and thin plastic skylights, which were both known to be fragile, Mr Sykes said, and he added that he had investigated numerous cases of people falling through both.

“After you have taken off the sheets from the roof it’s practically like walking a tightrope,” he added.

Nigel Ragan chose not to speak at the inquest, but his statement taken was read out to the court. In it, he said that he and his brother were used to the job.

He said: “I heard Stephen shout ‘Keith’s gone down’. I did not take it in at first what he had said, then I saw the hole in the roof.”

Mr Ragan had fallen about 30ft and was lying on his back on a warehouse floor.

His brother said in his statement that he believed that they had taken the correct health and safety measures, and added: “I concluded that he had stepped on the wrong place on the sheet.”

Mr Cullum told the inquest that it was normal for them to work that way, and added: “Keith said that he was just going to get a board and the next thing he just disappeared.”

Mr Ragan died from multiple injuries.

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

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