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FACILITIES MANAGEMENT FIRM FINED OVER ROOF FALL

Verbal warning fails to protect gutter cleaner from 6m fall through roof

MB Facilities Management Ltd, a facilities and cleaning company, has been fined after an employee fell 6m through the roof of a riding school on the Longcross estate in Surrey.

The workman “miraculously escaped” with minor injuries after a sand-covered floor cushioned his impact. The company was contracted to clean gutters at a farm on the estate when the incident occurred on 23 March this year.

North Surrey Magistrates heard (17 October) that the workman was cleaning the roof when he stepped on a fragile rooflight which gave way beneath him. He plunged to a riding arena below, covered with soft sand for the comfort of horses.

HSE investigators found that the company risk assessment identified the dangers of falling through the rooflight. However, the workforce was merely advised that they should not cross the rooflight. There was no supervision or measures in place to prevent a fall.

Dangers were obvious and safety guidance clear

MB Facilities Management Ltd, of London SW7 pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company was fined £4000 and ordered to pay £3700 in costs. The workman received £1000 in compensation.

After the hearing, Inspector Russell Beckett said:

“The six metre fall could have easily have proved fatal and was entirely and easily preventable.

MB Facilities Management could have covered the skylight, or used a cherry picker to raise workers up to the roof light – both simple measures to take.

Roofers account for almost a quarter of all workers who are killed in falls from height, and falls through fragile materials like sky lights account for more of these deaths than any other single cause. Many others are seriously injured and are left with permanent life-changing disabilities.

The dangers are obvious, the safety guidance is clear and there is no excuse for workers to be risking their lives.”

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