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FRAGILE ROOFLIGHT FALL HIGHLIGHTS HSE STANDARD

Firm fined after workman fell through roof during dismantling project

Farm business. James Miller (Kelham) Ltd, has been prosecuted after an employee suffered serious injuries in a roof fall.

Two workers were dismantling a farm building in May 2009 when one stepped onto a fragile roof panel and fell some 4m to the ground. He suffered a broken pelvis, four broken ribs and a broken shoulder blade.

Company failed to properly plan the work

James Miller (Kelham) Ltd admitted contravening regulations 29(1) and 29(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. The company was fined a total of £4,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £2,114.

HSE Inspector David Butter said:

“The worker was extremely lucky to survive. The work on the roof should not have been carried out in the way it was, with just a ladder and some plywood boards. The fall could have been avoided had the work been properly planned and appropriate safety measures taken such as using scaffolding or a cherry-picker.

Falls from height are the biggest causes of workplace deaths and it’s crucial that employers make sure work is properly planned, appropriately supervised and that sufficient measures are put in place to protect staff from these risks.”

Comment

In a recent Safety Practitioner Article HSE’s Construction Sector Safety Team member, Justine Lee, confirmed that falls through fragile roofs account almost 1 in 4 (22%) of construction deaths. The hierarchy of controls for such work is described as:

  1. “work from underneath the roof using a suitable work platform;
  2. where this is not possible consider using a MEWP that allows people to work from within the MEWP basket without standing on the roof itself;
  3. if access cannot be avoided, perimeter-edge protection should be installed and staging used to spread the load. Unless all work and access is on stagings or platforms that are fitted with guard-rails, safety nets should be installed underneath the roof, or a harness system used; and
  4. where harnesses are used they need adequate anchorage points.Training and supervision must be provided to ensure they are used consistently and contractor correctly.”

The difficulty is in communicating this message to the client and contractor community where work with fragile roofs is procured and carried out, before incidents occur!

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