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ROOF FALL DESPITE SAFETY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

Method statement failed to identify hazards and precautions

K & DE Barnett and Sons Ltd has been fined after a worker was injured when he fell more than 5m through a fragile roof light on a warehouse in Melton Mowbray in October 2013.

A roof sheet was being lifted from a stack when the workman stepped on the roof light which shattered causing him to fall to the concrete floor below.

He was airlifted to hospital and diagnosed with several fractures to his wrist and pelvis and bruising to his lungs and spine. He was unable to work for three months but has since returned to work, although not in roofing.

HSE investigators found that although a risk assessment and method statement were prepared the documents were not checked or discussed before work started.

The court heard that the company plan was not clear about the presence of fragile material or the safe system of work to be used. There was no mention of safety nets or the need for personal protection e.g. use of harness and anchor system.

H&S management system proved ineffective

K & DE Barnett and Sons of Rearsby, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1)(a) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined a total of £6,666. The company was also ordered to pay costs of £523.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Tony Mitchell said:

“K & DE Barnett has a fairly well-defined health and safety management system and is used to producing risk assessments and method statements for all types of roof work.

However, in this instance it was wholly inadequate and did not properly identify the presence of the fragile roof light or what fall protection measures were required.

As a result a worker fell some five metres and could well have been killed in what was an entirely preventable incident.

Work at height on or near fragile material is a major risk activity that can result in fatal or severe injury. The risks are foreseeable and there is ample guidance available on how to comply with the law and carry out work safely.”

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