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Roof fall left worker permanently brain-damaged09 September 2012
A contractor has been left in a vegetative state after falling from an unprotected roof at a house in Durham.
Darlington Magistrates’ Court heard James Wilson, trading as J Wilson Home Improvements, had been contracted to carry out roof repairs at a house in Wheeldale Close, Darlington.
Wilson sub-contracted Mark Lambton to replace roof tiles, point ridge tiles, and fit a dry-verge system to the gable end of the house. On 2 July 2011, Mr Lambton was working on the roof with Wilson and a third man without any edge protection in place.
Mr Lambton was attempting to step off the roof on to a set of ladders, which were positioned at the gable end of the property, when he fell more than six metres and landed on a path. He suffered serious head injuries and was placed in a drug-induced coma for more than two months. He remains in a vegetative state with no likelihood of improvement.
HSE inspector Emma Scott told SHP there should have been edge protection around the gable end and eaves level of the property. She explained that one way of achieving this would have been to erect a scaffold around the building.
“Allowing such work to be carried out without any safety measures is totally unacceptable,” said inspector Scott. “This incident could have been easily avoided if appropriate edge protection and safe access had been put in place to prevent falls. Instead, Mr Lambton has suffered life-changing injuries that have left him in a vegetative state with no likelihood of improvement or recovery.”
Wilson appeared in court on 5 September and pleaded guilty to breaching reg.4(1)(c) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. He was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £3000 in costs.
In mitigation, he said he had no previous safety convictions and informed the court the company was no longer trading. He cooperated with the investigation and expressed his remorse for the incident. He also asked for his limited financial means to be considered when levying a financial penalty.
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