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June 21, 2009

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Contractor falls from unlit roof at Heathrow Airport

A workman suffered serious leg injuries after falling off the roof of the Terminal One building at Heathrow Airport.

City of London Magistrates’ Court heard that ventilation hygiene specialists System Hygenics Ltd had been contracted to carry out maintenance checks on the terminal building’s ventilation system. Two of the firm’s employees were checking fire dampers when the incident took place, on 7 March 2007.

The lights on the top of the building were not working, as they had not been properly maintained by the airport. Because of this the men were walking across the roof in the dark and, as they were moving, one of them slipped and fell 2.2 metres into a gully. He was taken to hospital and treated for multiple fractures to one of his legs.

Heathrow Airport Ltd appeared in court on 3 June and pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £3130.

In mitigation, the firm said it had no previous convictions and deeply regretted the incident. It has now installed edge protection on the roof and put better lighting in place to prevent a similar accident.

Prosecuting HSE inspector, Steve Kirton, said: “Falls from height remain one of the most significant causes of serious injury reported to HSE, yet simple precautions can prevent these falls. Edge protection, or other fall protection, should always be provided where people are working at height.”

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