A YORK company on trial in connection with a pensioner’s death has defended its health and safety procedures.

Kenneth Armitage, 81, of Huntington, died when he fell through a hole in his bathroom floor left by Cooper & Westgate employee Matthew Hobson during a conversion, Leeds Crown Court heard.

In a statement to investigators, contracts director Adam Brown alleged Mr Hobson was aware of the risks involved in the work, aware of the company’s relevant risk assessment and had constructed a barrier to prevent access to the hole.

Cooper & Westgate, whose yard is on Barfield Road, Heworth, denies two charges of breaching health and safety regulations by failing to ensure the safety of members of the public, including Mr Armitage and its employees including Mr Hobson.

Giving evidence, Mr Brown said the company ensured all its employees and self-employed workers had their construction industry CSCS cards and other safety training.

Mr Hobson had received health and safety training including how to do risk assessments during a three-year apprenticeship at the firm which he had completed before attending Mr Armitage’s house in Whitestone Drive, Huntington, in February 2019, said Mr Brown.

The jury have heard Mr Hobson was working alone doing preparatory work on Friday, February 8 for Mr Armitage’s first-floor bathroom to be converted into a wet room and that company directors Paul Cooper and Mr Brown had visited the house beforehand to cost the work and to assess the site.

Mr Hobson was due to be joined by a colleague on Monday, February 11 to complete the work, but on Saturday, February 9, Mr Armitage’s daughter found him lying in the kitchen having fallen through a hole in the bathroom floor created by Mr Hobson when he removed floorboards to access pipework.

In his statement on behalf of the company, Mr Brown said Mr Hobson had been told to leave the bathroom “safe and as tidy as possible over the weekend”.

“He was aware of the risks involved and was familiar with the risk assessment involved,” the statement said.

“Prior to leaving the premises, it is understood by the company Mr Hobson constructed a barrier to prevent access to the area where the floorboards had been removed,” the statement said.

It added that the bathroom’s toilet and basin could be accessed without going to the area where the hole was.

Both the company and Mr Hobson claim he told Mr Armitage about the hole before he left the house.

The prosecution claims the barrier formed by Mr Hobson’s tool bags and other equipment was inadequate.

The jury heard that when police arrived following Mr Armitage’s death, Mr Hobson’s equipment was found in various places.

The company disputes that Mr Hobson had left them as they were found and in Mr Brown’s statement said he would not have left his tools and other items as they were found.

Mr Hobson has told the jury he had left them as a barrier and not as they were found.

The statement said the company had a risk assessment drawn up by external health and safety consultants in place for working at height, such as when converting first floor bathrooms, and that Mr Hobson was aware of it. The prosecution claims the risk assessment was inadequate and generic.

On being shown a company risk assessment for working at height during his evidence, Mr Hobson alleged he had not seen this before going to Mr Armitage’s house.

The trial continues.