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“BE CAREFUL” PROVES INADEQUATE INSTRUCTION

Director and company fined over failure to follow fragile roof advice

D & R Maintenance Solutions Ltd and director John Dunmore have been prosecuted after a labourer fell some 4m through a fragile roof fracturing his back on his first day working for the company fitting solar panels in February 2012.

Leamington Spa Magistrates Court heard (21 Nov) that the company and John Dunmore were aware the roof was fragile and verbally warned employees to “be careful” yet failed to plan the work properly and carry it out safely.

HSE found equipment provided for accessing and working on the fragile roof was not suitable. Four employees were working unsafely using single scaffold boards and crawl boards without guardrails or harnesses, and at times stepping on the roof itself.

There were no guardrails in place around the roof perimeter nor measures to mitigate the consequences of a fall through the fragile roof e.g. fall arrest, netting or soft landing systems.

The injured man and another colleague were both working for the firm for the first time that day but neither had been given proper instruction or training for working at height.

Director received previous verbal and written advice from HSE

D & R Maintenance Solutions Ltd of Monmouth, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £13,000 and ordered to pay £3,357 costs.

Mr John Dunmore, 54, of Monmouth, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £7,000 and ordered to pay £3,357 costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Luke Messenger said:

“D & R Maintenance Solutions Limited, and Mr John Dunmore, its managing director, had received relevant previous verbal and written advice from HSE regarding work on fragile roofs but failed to take basic precautions to prevent falls.

As a result, an employee was injured on his first day with the company. Considering he fell 4.5 metres, he was fortunate not to suffer more serious or even fatal injuries.

The supervision of new employees was inadequate, despite the risks from work at height being widely known. It is the biggest single cause of serious injury in construction, with falls through fragile surfaces accounting for a fifth of these.

Work at height must be properly planned and carried out safely, particularly when working on or near fragile roofs. Staff need to have the right equipment, receive correct training and supervision and safe operating procedures should be in place.”

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