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‘KNIFEDGE’ CLEANING OF ROOF PROVES DISASTROUS

Common misconception triggers rooflight fall on farm building

Messrs James E Taylor, a dairy farm business, has been prosecuted after a labourer was seriously injured when he fell through a rooflight whilst cleaning gutters and rooflights near Mauchline, East Ayrshire in September 2009. Steven Reid , 24, fell over 3m and suffered fractures to his knee, left ankle and upper front tooth as well as a cut to his head.

Kilmarnock Sheriff Court was told (24 June) that Steven was clearing leaves from the roof after gaining access by an attachment on a farm vehicle. He used a water hose and adopted the dangerous practice of walking the ‘line of the bolts’ as instructed by company partner Alistair Taylor.

He was crossing the apex of the roof to clean the rooflights on the other side when he stood on a rooflight which shattered causing him to fall to the floor below. He was in hospital for six weeks and now does not have full use of his knee.

HSE investigators found that safety measures had not been taken to prevent a fall through or from the roof. Instruction had not been given on how to how to undertake the work safely and safety equipment was not provided.

Walking the line of the roof bolts is NOT a safe practice

Messrs James E Taylor, of Lochhill Farm, Mauchline was fined £10,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act etc 1974.

Following the case, HSE Inspector Lesley Hammond, said:

“Incidents on roofs of this type are commonplace, especially falls through rooflights, which are considered to be fragile, being unable to support the weight of persons walking on them.

Despite the fact that there is detailed guidance available which would have allowed the partnership to put in place a safe system of work, no safety measures had been taken to prevent such a fall and no instructions had been given as to how the work was to be carried out safely.

As a result, the labourer sustained severe injuries that have led to permanent disfigurement and impairment in an incident that could have been easily avoided had safety measures been in place.

It’s a common misconception that if you walk along the bolts on a roof you are ‘safe’ but this is not the case. It is highly dangerous and falls far short of safe working practices.”

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