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CRAWLING BOARD PROVIDED INADEQUATE PROTECTION

Contractor fined over fragile roof fall as boards fail to spread load

An agricultural engineering contractor has been fined after a workman fell 4m through the fragile roof of a Dorset farm building in 2011.

The injured man was using a crawling board when the roof of a lean-to building adjacent to the barn collapsed beneath him. He fractured three vertebrae, broke a rib, and was unable to work for nearly two months.

HSE told Magistrates (3 July) that Michael Fry was contracted to replace the barn roof and build a new single dwelling at the farm. Part way through the job a problem was experienced with the mobile elevated work platform (MEWP) thereby making it difficult to access the main roof.

Two crawling boards were laid across the roof of the lean-to and workers had to walk across them to access the main roof.  A workman was standing on one of the boards when the roof gave way and he fell to the ground below.

HSE found that edge protection should have been installed around the perimeter of the roof and staging used to spread the load. Unless all access is on staging and platforms fitted with guardrails, safety nets should be installed under the roof or a harness system should be used to reduce the effects of any fall. None of these measures had been put in place.

Significant increase in falls through fragile roofing

Michael James Fry, of New Grove Barn, Martinstown, Dorchester, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1)(c) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, and was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9,440.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector James Powell said:

“The dangers of working at height are well known, yet poor safety standards and lack of safeguards still exist among some contractors.

In this case, the work had not been properly planned. Mr Clark and fellow employees were working on a fragile roof and yet Michael Fry had neglected to implement basic safety measures to protect them and minimise the risks of falls.

For the last ten years or so there has been a significant increase in the number of incidents involving falls through fragile roofing materials on agricultural buildings. This prosecution should serve as a reminder to all contractors to ensure working at height is properly planned and robust safety precautions are put in place.”

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