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PALLET OF FLOUR SAVES SOLAR PANEL INSTALLER

Installation firm failed to use vital fragile rooflight precautions

Grenergy Solar Ltd, a firm specialising in the installation of solar panels, has been fined after a worker sustained life-threatening injuries when he fell through a fragile rooflight on a north London warehouse in March 2012.

Brian Dolan, aged 58, fractured his skull in two places, broke five vertebrae and three ribs, and suffered hearing impairment in the incident. He was hospitalised for more than a fortnight and was unable to work for seven months.

Westminster Magistrates heard (29 May) that Mr Dolan was working for Rugby-based Grenergy Solar Ltd installing 342 solar panels on the roofs of two warehouse buildings. He fell on the second day of the work and plunged some 5m to the concrete floor below where his fall was partly broken by a pallet of flour.

How he fell is unclear but HSE investigators established that there were no measures in place to prevent or mitigate a fall e.g safety netting beneath the skylights. Magistrates were told that had the work been properly assessed, with appropriate safety measures taken, then the incident could have been avoided.

System of work proposed never implemented

Grenergy Solar Ltd, on Main Street, Thurlaston, Rugby, Warwickshire, was fined a total of £12,000 and ordered to pay £9,041 in costs after pleading guilty to two separate breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Paul Hems said:

“You would expect a company like Grenergy Solar Ltd that specialises in roof installations to be fully aware of the risks posed by working at height on, with or near fragile surfaces, and to take the appropriate safety precautions.

Yet that clearly didn’t happen here, and Mr Dolan could easily have paid with his life as a result. The District Judge commented, in relation to the system of work proposed but never actually implemented by the company, that it was a ‘defective process and implementation of it was defective’.

Mr Dolan suffered terrible injury in a wholly preventable yet depressingly frequent incident, and it is imperative that effective measures are put in place at all times to prevent or mitigate falls.”

 

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