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CLEARING GUTTER LEAVES WORKMAN WITH FRACTURED SPINE

Poorly managed roof maintenance work ends in fragile rooflight fall

Futon Limited of London has been prosecuted after a worker fell through a fragile roof light whilst clearing leaves from a valley gutter. The injured man fractured his spinal column and suffered a collapsed lung as a result of the fall on 9 October 2009.

Westminster Magistrates heard that after gaining access to the roof by a man-riding cage mounted on a forklift truck he moved a couple of feet from the edge of the roof and stood on a roof light which gave way under his weight. He fell some 6m to the warehouse floor below. The company had an ‘approved contractor’ for such work but neglected to use the contractor on this occasion.

HSE told the court that using a non-integrated working platform attached to a forklift was a significant failing because it is a platform to work from rather than a platform for accessing other places at height.

Roofwork could and should have been left to ‘professionals’

Futon Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 in relation to the incident. The company was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £14,635 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Jack Wilby said:

“This man was extremely fortunate not to have been killed or more seriously injured as a result of his fall.

It was poorly-managed activity that could and should have been left to the professionals, as Futon Limited was only too aware, and as such the incident was entirely preventable.

I hope today’s hearing serves as a further reminder of the risks posed by working at height, especially when working on or near fragile roofs with sky lights.”

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