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EMPLOYER FAILED TO MANAGE FRAGILE ROOF RISK

Young worker fell through rooflight during gutter cleaning operation 

STP Solutions Ltd of Croyden has been ordered to pay nearly £48k in fines and prosecution costs after a young worker suffered multiple fractures and internal injuries when he fell through a rooflight after only weeks into his job. 

He had been instructed to access the warehouse roof and clean out guttering at the Argent Centre, Hayes, Middlesex in May 2009. In crossing the roof he stepped on a roof light and fell 7m to the floor of the empty warehouse suffering multiple fractures. His spleen was ruptured and had to be removed in emergency surgery.

City of London Magistrates heard that Mr Edwards was left alone and unsupervised.

Young inexperienced worker need extra attention

STP Solutions Ltd pleaded guilty to breaches of HSW Act 1974 , Regulation 3(1) (a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, and Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company was fined £28,500 and ordered to pay costs of £9,359.

HSE inspector Clare Hawkes said:

“There is no reason why this job could not have been carried out safely if the company had planned and supervised it properly.

The horrendous injuries suffered by this young man could have been avoided if the safety risks had been managed and a safe method of work put in place.

“Young, inexperienced workers cannot be expected to be aware of risks or have knowledge of safety controls. It’s the employer’s responsibility to put in place measures to ensure their employees’ safety at work.”

Lewis’s mother, Sara Edwards, said:

“16 months since Lewis’s horrific accident, he still bears the physical and mental scars that have had a tragic effect on his life, and the pressures of this have torn our family apart. His accident was directly due to the lack of supervision, training and safety management of his employers. He should never have been placed in such a vulnerable position and he will now have to carry this with him for the rest of his life.”

Comment

Yet another fragile rooflight fall and prosecution. Few people survive a 7m fall through a rooflight – this young man is lucky to be alive. This case involved minor cleaning / maintenance work undertaken by an in-house employee. It is likely that the employer was unaware of the high risk involved in cleaning the gutters.

How many other owners or occupiers of such industial units are equally unaware of the hazard posed by such fragile surfaces? This case sppports the need for a widespread awareness and publicity campaign aimed at the owners and occupiers of such premises.

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