A construction firm and its managing director were fined (21st November) for safety failings after a labourer fell more than four metres through a fragile barn roof, breaking his back on his first day working for the company. As well as fracturing two vertebrae in his lower back, requiring a brace to be worn for two months, he suffered a broken wrist which had to be pinned and a bruised heel. He returned to work after six months but no longer works in construction, and has been left with some restricted movement in his wrist.
Leamington Spa Magistrates Court was told the company and its managing director were aware the roof was fragile and verbally warned employees to be careful, but did not ensure that the job was properly planned or carried out safely.
Britain’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found equipment provided for accessing and working on the fragile roof was not suitable, and four employees were working unsafely using single scaffold boards and crawl boards without guardrails or harnesses, and at times stepping on the roof itself. No guardrails were in place around the roof perimeter to prevent falls from the edge, and no measures to mitigate the consequences of a fall through the fragile roof were in use, such as fall arrest harnesses, netting, or soft landing systems. In addition, the injured man and another colleague were both working for the firm for the first time that day but neither had been given proper instruction or training for working at height.
HSE’s Press Release is here.