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FALL HIGHLIGHTS FRAGILE MATERIAL HAZARD

Contractor prosecuted after roof worker fractures back in fragile roof fall

A roofworker fractured his spine after falling through a skylight on a SW London building extension in December 2006. The injured workman can now only walk short distances using  a walking stick.

The Old Bailey heard that James Thompson Carpentry and Building (James Thompson T/A) was supervising work on site and should have undertaken a number of measures to prevent the incident.

Tarpaulin was in place to provide weather protection to the ground floor of a flat. The workman was removing the tarpaulin when he stepped on insulating board laid across a skylight . The fragile material failed under his weight and he fell over 3m to the concrete floor below.

Incident could easily have been avoided

His condition will not improve, and the former judo fighter and rugby player will not be able to return to work in the construction industry again.

Speaking after the sentence, the injured man said:

“Prior to the incident, I had an active life and enjoyed numerous outdoor activities, which I can no longer pursue. I no longer work as a result of my injuries. The incident has effectively turned my life upside down. I suffer terrible flashbacks and am currently on medication.”

HSE Inspector Ian Seabrook said:

“The impact on this man’s life has been immeasurable. This incident could easily have been avoided, and illustrates there is no room for complacency even when working on small sites. Work at height is the single largest safety hazard on construction sites and needs to be properly managed.”

James Thompson, of Wallington, Surrey pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6 (3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. He was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,000.

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