A company director has been sentenced after an employee fell from a roof and sustained life-threatening injuries.
The Magistrates Court heard that the employee was carrying out roof repairs when he fell 6m through a fragile rooflight. The employee landed on the concrete floor below and received multiple fractures to his vertebrae, ribs, elbow, wrist and sacral bones. He spent 8 weeks in hospital as result of his injuries
The subsequent HSE investigation found the company director had failed to properly plan the work or provide adequate fall protection to his employees. The employee had never carried out roofwork before but was instructed to access the roof via a scissor lift, which he was not trained to use. The company directory allowed the employee to work without supervision, carrying out work that required him to walk across a fragile roof composed of asbestos cement sheeting.
The company director pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, by virtue of S37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and ordered to pay costs of £6,848.60.
Following the hearing, the HSE inspector for the case said “This incident could so easily have been prevented. Work at height on asbestos cement roofing is dangerous and requires adequate planning, organisation, training and equipment.
The director was aware of the need to access and repair the roof. He could have provided work at height training and equipment to workers, or simply contracted the task out to a professional roofing company. Directors should be aware that they may be held personally accountable if they endanger the lives of their employees.”
The dangers of working near fragile rooflights are well documented. Unfortunately falls through fragile materials such as these account for the majority of fall from height deaths and injuries. Before anyone is allowed to work on a roof, they must have the correct training, and any form of work a height must be thoroughly assessed and planned before the work can be undertaken to ensure the correct measures are in place for the work to be carried out safely.
Allowing workers to carry out work on a roof without any form of training, correct planning or suitable equipment, is totally irresponsible and this case should be a warning to people who fail to take their duty of care seriously.