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INADEQUATE SKYLIGHT COVERS FAILED TO PROTECT

Workman fell 4m after temporary cover failed under load

Bryen & Langley Ltd has been prosecuted after a roofing worker fell 4m through a badly-protected skylight. The 45 year-old man suffered multiple fracture injuries, including a broken right arm, when he fell through the roof opening which had been covered only with a “thick plastic” in February 2012.

Maidstone Magistrates heard (23 May) that HSE investigators found that skylight openings above the swimming pool in Tonbridge Kent had been covered with plywood sheeting. This was changed to thick plastic to allow some natural light through and to enable workers to lower materials into the pool area if needed. The plastic was then covered with pallets and held down by timbers.

The injured man, employed by a roofing sub-contractor, stepped on the skylight opening believing it was safe to do so. He fell through the skylight and landed on a concrete walkway. He was able to return to work after some five months.

“Lead contractor” had responsibility for safety on site

Bryen & Langley, of Eltham, London, was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £9,209 in costs by Magistrates after admitting breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After the hearing, Inspector Melvyn Stancliffe said:

“The distance that Mr Shaw fell could easily have resulted in his death. He is a lucky man – though I am sure he did not feel so at the time.

This incident was avoidable and Bryen & Langley, as lead contractor, had a responsibility for safety on the site. It would have been a simple matter to have fixed the skylight covers in place. If they then needed to be moved for any reason, then temporary protection should have been placed around the openings and a system employed to ensure coverings were replaced promptly and correctly.

Work at height needs to be properly planned and there need to be sufficient measures taken to guard against people falling.”

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