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SOLAR PANEL FIRM PROSECUTED OVER FRAGILE FALL

Installer escapes with life after 11m fall through building roof

BCL Renewables Limited has been fined after a workman was seriously injured when he fell more than 11m through a barn roof while installing solar panels.

Daniel Harvey, aged 28, fractured his back, pelvis, several ribs, lacerated his liver and punctured a lung in the incident in December 2012. He remains unable to work and is awaiting a further operation that will determine his long-term prognosis.

Cheltenham Magistrates heard that Mr Harvey was working with a colleague installing some 624 solar panels to the roofs of four barns. He was on a barn roof attaching fixing brackets for the solar panels when the fibre cement roof fractured beneath him.

There were no measures in place to prevent or mitigate his fall e.g. edge protection, crawl boards, or netting. The work was poorly planned and “inadequately risk assessed”. Mr Harvey had received no formal training and had only worked at the company for five weeks.

Message to emerging energy market… do not “compromise safety”

BCL Renewables Limited, of Andoversford Industrial Estate, Andovesrford, Cheltenham, was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay a further £1,837 in costs after being found guilty in absentia of a single breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

The company recently entered voluntary administration and offered no defence in court. Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Paul Newton commented:

“Work at height is inherently fraught with risk, and it is vital that adequate measures and safeguards are in place to prevent falls and protect workers.

You would expect a company specialising in the installation of solar panels to be well aware of the dangers and the required safety standards, but it would appear not from the evidence we uncovered.

BCL Renewables fell well below the required standards and Mr Harvey sustained potentially life-changing injuries as a result. He could have been killed, and I hope his completely avoidable experience sends a clear message to all involved in the emerging energy market that they must not compromise safety.”

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