Precautions highlighted in tender not implemented in practice
Data Contracts Specialist Maintenance Ltd has been fined after an employee was seriously injured when he fell over 3m through a fragile roof during poorly-managed roof work in Nottingham. Stephen Bassford, aged 58, suffered a fractured pelvis and severe facial injuries in the incident on 4 July 2012.
Nottingham Magistrates heard he was alone at the former Shepherd Special School and was boarding over broken rooflights on the main building as well as a fragile roof canopy that covered part of the playground.
Heavy rain caused him to stop work and as he was collecting his tools, he slipped and fell through the fragile perspex roof canopy and plunged to the concrete floor below. HSE found that the firm:
- Assesment – failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment or properly plan or supervise the work;
- Implementation – scaffolding and a harness system in the quotation was not in place; and
- Training – the injured person had not received any training or instructions on working safely at height.
Magistrates were told the incident could have been avoided if measures were in place to prevent or mitigate a fall or steps taken to prevent Mr Bassford working near, or on a fragile surface.
Falls through fragile materials “occur all too often”
Data Contracts Specialist Maintenance Ltd, of Green Lane, Walsall, was fined £11,000 and ordered to pay £9,732 in costs after pleading guilty to two separate breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
Speaking after the prosecution, HSE Inspector Frances Bailey said:
“Mr Bassford sustained serious injuries and could have died as a result of the fall. He had been working alone at the derelict school, so it was fortunate that he was able to call the emergency services himself after the incident occurred.
The dangers of working at height and near fragile materials are well known, yet incidents of this kind occur all too often. This fall could have easily been prevented if Data Contracts Specialist Maintenance Ltd had properly assessed the risks and put simple measures in place to minimise them. The implementation of an appropriate plan would also have ensured that anyone undertaking the work was properly supervised and protected.
This prosecution should serve as a reminder to all companies of their legal duties to manage safety and provide the protection required to safeguard workers from falls.”