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FIT-OUT WORKMAN FELL THROUGH FRAGILE ROOF

Rooflight covers prove insufficient to prevent life-changing injuries

Sherlock Interiors Contracting Ltd has been prosecuted after a worker suffered life-changing injuries when he fell through a fragile roof light at a construction site in London in February 2011. The 46-year-old workman fracture his vertebrae, a shoulder and ribs and is unlikely to be able to return to manual work as a result of the injuries.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard (27 February) that he was carrying out insulation work on a flat roof when he fell through one of the roof lights 6m to the ground below.

HSE investigators found that hard-board coverings previously installed over the roof lights had been removed and replaced with thin plastic sheeting. In addition, safety decking beneath the roof (designed to protect workers in the event of a fall) was no longer in place when the work started.

Fragile roof poses same danger as an open void

Sherlock Interiors Contracting Ltd, of London was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £5347 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 9(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 which requires that no person passes across or near, or works on, from or near, a fragile surface.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Peter Collingwood said:

“Work at height is inherently fraught with risk, and falls remain the single biggest cause of deaths and serious injury in the construction industry.

It is therefore essential that effective management arrangements are in place to ensure risks are managed and workers are protected. Fragile roof covers provide little or no protection, and should be viewed with the same level of danger as an open void.”

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