Roofwork failures amounted to “serious lapse”30 August 2012
A worker needed to wear a body and neck brace for three months after he fell headfirst through an outhouse roof.
Gelding Homes contracted Morrison Facilities Services Ltd to replace cement sheets on a single-storey outhouse in St Mary’s Close, Gelding, in Nottinghamshire.
On 28 July 2010, Morrison Facilities Services sent two workers to repair the roof. One of the men, who wishes to remain anonymous, accessed the roof via the top section of a triple ladder, which was laid across the roof to act as a platform.
While he was on the roof, one of the sheets started to collapse, and he tried to climb across the ladder to escape. As he crawled on the ladder, he placed his hand on the hanging sheet, which was positioned to the side of the ladder, and he fell through it headfirst. He landed on the ground 2.4 metres below and suffered serious fractures to his neck and back.
HSE inspector Nic Rigby investigated the incident and found that the work had not been properly planned, was not carried out in a safe manner by trained staff, and was not properly supervised. Inspector Rigby told SHP that the work should have been carried out from a tower scaffold beneath the roof. He said: “Work at height carries significant risk and must be properly planned, particularly when it involves fragile roof surfaces.
“This incident has left a man with life-changing injuries, yet it could have been avoided if a suitable and sufficient risk assessment had been carried out. This would have identified the need for this work to have been properly supervised and carried out by trained staff.”
Morrison Facilities Services appeared at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court on 28 August and pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £18,000 and ordered to pay £5452 in costs.
Deputy District Judge Marshall said: “It seems to me this was a serious lapse by a company that has otherwise taken its responsibilities seriously and done what it can to put matters right.”
In mitigation, the company admitted it had not planned the work properly and said it has subsequently revised its work procedures. It has also retrained all of its supervisors. The company has no previous convictions.
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