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LIFE-CHANGING INJURIES AFTER FRAGILE ROOF FALL

Minimal fine imposed following 7m fall caused by lack of precautions
   

Charles Painting (UK) Ltd of Rotherham has been ordered to pay £3k in fines and prosecution costs following a fragile roof fall in June 2007.

The company pleaded guilty to charges under the Work at Height Regulations 2005 – Regulation 9(2) at Sheffield Magistrates Court when the court heard John Henderson suffered multiple fractures to his legs and arm when he fell through a fragile roof rooflight.

Life changing injuries 

The fall occurred as the workman was preparing to clean roof lights at factory premises in Sheffield.

He was pulling water pipes across the roof in preparation when he fell 7m through a roof light onto the workshop floor below.

The injuries incurred are said to have “seriously changed his life”.

Precautions not provided

HSE found that there were no working platforms, guardrails, scaffold or sufficient means of protection provided on the roof or underneath to prevent the fall.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Alison Crank said: “There were no precautions in place at the time to prevent a fall through the fragile roof or from the roof edge and as a result Mr Henderson sustained long-term serious injury. 

“Figures show that falls from height are a major cause of deaths at work in the UK, with more than 4,000 employees suffering a major injury as a result of a fall from height in 2008/09″.

Comment: A 7m fall through a rooflight would be expected to cause fatal injuries. Falls through fragile roofs and rooflights are one of the biggest single causes construction deaths.

The fine in this case is surprisingly low. The most likely explanations are (1) the means of the defendant (2) a first offence and (3) any mitigating circumstances not apparent in the information provided by HSE. However, many readers may feel that such low fines do little to encourage proper precautions.

CDM 2007 was in force at the time of the incident. The duties on the client for such construction work include: checking competence and arrangements for managing the project. There is no suggestion that the client has been prosecuted.

There are a range of precautions that can be put in place when working on or near fragile roofs and rooflights.

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