Firm prosecuted for fatal roof light fall

A company which manufactures signage and displays for high street retailers pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £120,000 with costs of over £37,000 after a worker fell to his death through a fragile roof light.

The employee and a colleague were covering roof lights with blackout vinyl in order to reduce heat within the factory by blocking out the sunlight, when he fell 5.5m through a fragile roof light. 


unprotected roof lights


The HSE prosecuted the company after it was found that it had failed to adequately supervise the employees and that managers had missed a number of opportunities to stop them from working on the roof.

Following the hearing, the HSE Inspector involved in the case commented “Two employees were on the roof for some time with no precautions in place to prevent falling through fragile roof material or off the open edge of the roof. This accident would not have happened if these two employees had been appropriately supervised by management. Falls from height, particularly from roofs is the highest cause of fatal accidents.”

Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act states that “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”

Before any work at height is carried out the risks must assessed in order for the work to be planned properly and suitable equipment specified to ensure the work can be carried out correctly.  All workers must be properly trained to work at height and use the equipment as outlined in the written risk assessment and safe working method.

Simple Solutions

Open edges of a roof can be protected quickly and easily with portable edge protection, alternatively mobile man anchors are ideal for short term work where guardrails are not provided.

The HSE estimates that around 7 people are killed each year falling through fragile materials such as roof  lights.  The Kee Dome range of roof light covers provides protection for anyone accessing near to fragile roof lights when carrying out maintenance or inspections on a flat roof.

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