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INQUEST INTO ROOFLIGHT FALL

Coroner hears how fatal fall through roof could have been prevented

An inquest jury in Bradford has been told how William Laurie, aged 58, fell 13m to his death through a factory rooflight whilst moving ducts and repairing the roof in April 2008.

HSE Inspector David Stewart told the court that better roof access could have been gained by using a stair tower rather than a ladder and that a walkway and safety nets were required. He added “the accident could have been prevented” and the “method statement did not go into enough detail into how the work was to be carried out.”

A fellow worker said: “I felt the roof thud, moved up to the apex and saw the skylight had a hole in it and that’s when I saw Billy lying on the shop floor.” The pathologist reported that Mr Laurie suffered fractured ribs and skull after striking the concrete floor and the jury returned a verdict of misadventure.

Comment: Falls through fragile roofs (primarily rooflights and fibre cement roofs) remain one of the biggest single causes of fatal falls in construction. Most of the deaths occur during refurbishment work on existing factories and warehouses. There are now duties on clients under CDM 2007 to check that their management arrangements and those of the contractors engaged are suitable to ensure safety during such construction work. Failure to do so may also expose clients, in the event of a death, to an investigation under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.

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