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FALLS THROUGH ROOFS CONTINUE TO CAUSE HARM

Roofing company fined after teenage roofer falls through failed roofsheet

Randell and Janes Roofing Specialists Ltd, of Wales has been fined £2k and ordered to pay £1.5k in prosecution costs after an incident in which a teenage worker fell 3m through a fragile roof, breaking his arm.

Apprentice Shaun Jacob, 18, was removing the ridge from a metal sheet roof when the sheet on which he was standing buckled, causing him to fall to the ground below.

The company was engaged to replace the roof of a single-storey cottage at Derwydd Mansion, Ffairfach, Carmarthenshire in October 2009.

A specific risk assessment had not been carried out for the job nor were precautions taken to prevent or arrest a fall from the roof as it was being removed.

Both the injured man and his supervisor had not been properly trained.

Significant failings by specialist roofing company

HSE Inspector Phil Nicolle said:

“It is disappointing that a company whose primary business is roof work displayed such significant failings. Employers have a legal requirement to properly plan work at height and ensure it is appropriately supervised, but this did not happen in this case.

There are several ways to reduce the risk of injury from falls and though the company owned a large number of bean bags which would have served this purpose, they were not used.

Falls from height are one of the major causes of death and serious injury in the construction industry and this case must serve as a warning to others that jobs need to be planned properly and adequate measures put in place to reduce the risks.”

Comment

Some 25% of those fatally injured during falls from height are roof workers.

This incident involved failure of a metal sheet. However, the majority of falls through roofs involve fragile fibre cement sheets and rooflights.

Avoiding work on fragile surfaces is the best policy. There are now roofing and work systems available that enable rooflights and sheets to be replaced from below the roof using mobile elevating platforms.

Commercial and domestic roofwork is being targeted as part of the HSE Plan for 2010/2011.

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