Man spared jail after fatal Isle of Man scaffolding fall

Worker killed in Isle of Man Scaffolding Fall At king william's college
King William's College on the Isle of Man

A former site foreman, Stephen Phillips, has been handed a 12-month suspended sentence after a man tragically died during a school refurb job in 2020. 

Air conditioning engineer, Gary Skelding, 56, fell from a six-metre-high scaffold when it collapsed at King William’s College on the Isle of Man. 

Phillips was acquitted of manslaughter in court last year but found guilty of breaching health and safety. Stuart Clague Services (SCS), which previously admitted failing to ensure its employees’ health, safety and welfare, was fined £200,000.

Workers from SCS had been renovating the school’s science block.

The court heard that a “number of failings” led to the fatality after Phillips chose to place up to 45 plaster fireboards, each weighing more than 35kg, on the scaffolding instead of transporting them into the building individually due to concerns over high winds. 

Mr Skelding had volunteered to help Phillips, ultimately leading to his fall from the scaffold structure as it collapsed under him. 

Gary Skelding tragically died aged 56 

Judge Sandeep Kainth said that method of lifting the boards “should never have been attempted”.

In sentencing SCS, he said the company did not have adequate health and safety systems in place at the time that may have identified the risks. The company has since introduced a digital risk assessment system to alert the site foreman to all potential dangers. 

Mr Skelding’s widow read a statement to the court, where she said the events of August 4, 2020, changed her life “irreversibly”. Judge Sandeep Kainth noted the “tragic accidents” had brought “grief and misery” to Mr Skelding’s family and friends.

In sentencing Phillips, he said: “You have to live with the fact that on your watch a death occurred”, adding: “That’s going to be difficult”.