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    Contractor prosecuted over well-known fragile roof risk

    J Smart & Co (Contractors) PLC has been fined a workman was injured when he fell 5m head first through a roof light whilst repairing roofs at the firms plant yard in December 2012.

    Edinburgh Sheriff Court was told (26 February) that Kieran Thomson was working on the old joiners’ workshop when he asked a colleague to pass up a ladder.

    He levered the ladder onto a scaffold pole and walked backwards pulling the ladder on to the roof. Whilst doing so caught his heel on a domed plastic rooflight and fell head first through the rooflight

    His head struck machinery below before landing on the floor and suffered bruising and cuts to his head and legs. He was discharged from hospital later that evening and returned to work four weeks later.

    HSE found that the company failed to carry out a risk assessment in advance of the work starting, and that there were no measures in place to prevent people stepping or falling onto the roof light e.g. covers or barriers.

    The firm failed to properly plan and appropriately supervise work being carried out at height, and ensure that the work was carried out in a safe manner.

    Fragility and required controls “well known”

    J Smart & Co (Contractors) PLC, of Crammond Road South, Edinburgh, was fined £1,600 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 4 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

    Following the case, HSE Inspector Isabelle Martin, said:

    “This was an entirely avoidable incident. Falls from height remain one of the most common reasons for injuries and even fatalities at work, and it is fortunate that Mr Thomson survived such a fall.

    J Smart & Co (Contractors) PLC should have carried out a risk assessment before work started. It is well-known that roof lights are fragile and the control measures required to ensure that people do not fall through them are equally well-known.

    HSE highlight that falls through fragile roofs and fragile roof lights account for almost a fifth of all the fatal accidents which result from a fall from height in the construction industry. On average seven people die each year after falling through a fragile roof or fragile roof light.

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