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SOLAR SPECIALIST FINED £153K OVER FRAGILE FALL

Safety equipment issued without training and instruction in safe use

P V Solar UK Limited has been fined £153,000 after a workman, aged 32, was seriously injured when he fell through a fragile roof light in Kent in 2013.  The roof light was located on an outbuilding housing a swimming pool.

The pool water partially cushioned his fall but he made a heavy impact with the side and flooring and was as unable to return to work until 2016. He was part of a three man team working on the pool building to replace faulty solar panels installed by the same company in April 2011.

The fragile roof also contained eight roof lights and he fell through one of the rooflights as he walked on the roof carrying a panel.

Canterbury Crown Court heard that a scaffold tower, ladder and safety harness were provided. However, the team had not received any formal training or instruction in use which rendered the equipment “effectively useless”.

Other measures could have been taken e.g. full scaffolding or hard covers for the rooflights.

Workers “left to own devices” with inadequate equipment

HSE established that initial installation work in 2011 was completed without incident despite a lack of safety equipment. In 2011 the company was served with an HSE Prohibition Notice regarding work on a fragile roof in Bristol and was well aware of the need for effective precautions.

P V Solar UK Limited, of Glasgow, was fined a total of £153,000 and ordered to pay a further £29,480 in costs after pleading guilty to three separate breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Melvyn Stancliffe said:

“The injured worker suffered serious injury in the fall and could have been killed. He and his colleagues were effectively left to their own devices with equipment that was not wholly suited for the task at hand. In short, better equipment, training and supervision should have been provided.

Working on or near a fragile roof or materials is not a task to be undertaken without proper planning, and without having the appropriate safety measures in place at all times. There is considerable free guidance available from the HSE regarding the precautions needed when working at height, including on or near fragile roof coverings.”

 

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