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WORKING FROM BELOW FRAGILE ROOF PREFERRED

Firm fined after workman plunged through fibre cement roof

Timmins Engineering and Construction Limited has been fined after an employee was seriously injured when he fell 3m through a fragile roof on a farm. The 30-year-old workman fractured a vertebra and required metal plates to be inserted in his back as a result of the incident in Osgodby on 17 January 2013.

Lincoln Magistrates heard that the injured worker and a colleague were replacing fibre cement sheets on a storage building with steel sheets, using a mobile elevated work platform (MEWP), telehandler and crawler boards.

One person was working from a MEWP inside the building and the second person worked on the roof using from crawler boards. Fixing bolts were cut from inside before the old sheets were slid out of the way to be removed by a telehandler parked at the back of the building.

The worker went on to the roof to “speed things up”. He slipped from the crawler board and stepped onto one of the cement sheets which fractured and sent him crashing to the ground below. He initially landed on his feet before falling over, with his back taking the impact.

HSE established that although both workers were working to a pre-planned method of work, it was inherently unsafe and failed to mitigate the risks of working with fragile materials.

The court was told that the roofing work was eventually completed a week later using scissor lifts inside the building, and that had this equipment been provided to start with then the incident could have been prevented.

Serious injury could have been avoided with safer system of work

Timmins Engineering and Construction of Sturton-by-Stow was fined a total of £4,000 and ordered to pay £985 in costs after pleading guilty to two separate breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Chris Copeman said:

“The worker sustained a serious injury that could have been avoided had a safer system of work been used for removing the fragile sheets.

The risk of serious or even fatal injury is high and eminently foreseeable with this type of work, and it is vital that the correct equipment and methods are in place.

The company eventually got it right by working from inside the building and avoiding the need to physically go onto the roof, but it is sad that it took a serious incident before this happened.”

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