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CRAWLING BOARDS INSUFFICIENT FOR COMPLIANCE AND SAFETY

Company and director prosecuted after worker fell through roof

Tees Valley Compost Cleaning Services Ltd and a director of the firm have been fined after a worker was seriously injured when he fell some 3.5 metres through the fragile roof of a barn during cleaning operations in July 2011

The 25-year-old was one of three labourers instructed by company director Michael Andrew Thompson to clear debris from the roof of the barn that had gathered during compost cleaning activities.

Peterlee Magistrates heard (21 March 2013) that men were working from boards placed on the roof to brush the roof clean. However, at the end of the day one of the men stepped off a board onto the cement roof which gave way and he fell through it. He fractured the bone at the base of his spine and was off work for two weeks.

HSE found the wooden boards being were not fitted with edge protection and there were no other safety measures e.g. safety netting or guard rails in use to prevent or lessen the impact of any fall from height.

Clear HSE guidance not followed

Tees Valley Compost Cleaning Services Ltd, of Wingate, was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £3,506.50 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of The Work at Height Regulations 2005 for failing to prevent injury from a fall.

Michael Andrew Thompson, 47, also of Wingate, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was fined £2,000.

After the hearing HSE inspector Sally Brecken, said:

“The worker is lucky to be alive because falls from such a height can often be fatal. He did however suffer very serious injuries in this incident, which would not have happened if adequate safeguards had been in place.

The company did very little to prevent falls from the roof or to reduce the risk of serious injury in the event of a fall.

Clear guidance on working at height is available from HSE and it is regrettable that the company failed to follow this.”

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