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    ROPE ACCESS WORKER FELL THROUGH FRAGILE ROOF

    Prison sentence imposed on owner of rope access firm

    Southern Solar Ltd and Sonya French have today been sentenced after a worker fell through a fragile barn roof and suffered life-changing injuries.

    Brighton Crown Court heard how Southern Solar Ltd were contracted to install 100 solar panels and the company engaged Sky High Rope Access Ltd, run by Sonya French, was to undertake the installation work.

    During the works two operatives were on the roof and whilst fitting a rope along the ridge of the barn attached to a large tree the roof gave way causing, David Mattison, aged 23, to fall some 8m through the roof to the ground below..

    He spent six months in hospital and is now in a wheelchair and unable to walk.

    Rope access not generally suitable on fragile roofs

    HSE investigators found the person put in charge of planning and supervising the work had never previously worked on a fragile roof. The investigation also found the “method statement prepared was totally inadequate as rope access is generally not suitable to be used on fragile roofs”.

    • Southern Solar Ltd – which previously traded at Phoenix House, North Street, Lewes, was found guilty of breaching Regulation 4 (1)(a) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company, who have gone into administration, were fined £1.
    • Sonya French – of East Wing, Thorpe St Andrews, Norwich, was found guilty of breaching Section 37 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. She was given a 20 month custodial sentence suspended for  two years and ordered to carry out 240hrs unpaid work. She was also ordered to pay costs of £5000.

    HSE inspector Amanda Huff said:

    “Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers.

    If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the life changing injuries sustained by the David Mattison could have been prevented.”

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