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WORKMAN CHEATS DEATH IN 7M ROOFLIGHT FALL

Unprotected fragile skylight fails during recladding operations

A roofwork sole trader has been fined after an employee suffered major injuries when he fell through a fragile rooflight during re-cladding operations on a Nuneaton Industrial Estate in July 2010.

The workman fell 7m to the factory floor below and fractured his pelvis, back and foot and was unable to work for several months. HSE investigators found that John Edward failed to do enough to prevent or mitigate the fall.

Nuneaton Magistrates heard (11 April) that Mr O’Brien took some steps to protect workers on the roof, however, there was no protection in place for the rooflight through which the workman fell and which was known to be fragile.

Clear, unambiguous and detailed sequencing required

John Edward O’Brien, 42, of Newmarket Road, Norton Canes, Cannock, was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs for a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Mhairi Lockwood said:

“Normally you would expect netting to be put up under the roof that was being worked on in order to catch a falling person before they hit the ground. This situation was unusual though, as the building had a lot of ducting, so another system was put in place, using metallic mesh.

However, at the time, there was no covering over the fragile roof lights, meaning the injured person suffered the serious injuries he did. Work at height is a high-risk activity which requires thorough planning and execution.

The system of work adopted should be clear and unambiguous, involving detailed sequencing of how the work was going to be carried out and the control measures that need to be in place.”

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