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June 2, 2010

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Premier league football club fined for worker’s roof fall

Aston Villa Football Club has been fined £1350 after a drainage worker fell through a roof during the redevelopment of its training ground.

Stratford on Avon Magistrates’ Court heard that Mechanical Cleansing Services Ltd had been contracted to drain fuel tanks on a roof during the demolition of an old building at the Bodymoor Heath complex near Sutton Coldfield, on 27 July 2007.

The fuel tanks were located in the roof’s plant room, but a ladder in the building was blocked, preventing access. As a result, Mechanical Cleansing Services’ director Damon Roe, decided to use a ladder against the outside of the building to access the plant room. But both he and the football club failed to warn the workers that there were fragile rooflights on the roof.

Having finished cleaning the tanks, one of the pair of workers headed towards the ladder to climb down, but he fell through a rooflight.  The 34-year-old fell three metres and broke bones in both of his heels. He was unable to return to work for more than six months.

HSE inspector Carol Southerd said: “Work at height can be very dangerous if not properly planned and although the victim’s injuries were severe, they could have been much worse.

“If the internal ladder had been used, then this incident would not have happened. A simple conversation with the club was all it would have taken to arrange for the blocked ladder to be cleared.

“When working at height all workers must have adequate instruction, training and equipment. It is vital that risks are adequately assessed and managed before employees undertake tasks in hazardous locations. There was a clear failure to warn the victim or his colleague of the dangerous condition of the roof, or to provide safe access to the tank.”

Aston Villa Football Club Ltd appeared in court on 1 June and pleaded guilty to breaching reg. 9(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, for failing to ensure that work was carried out safely on a fragile surface. In addition to the fine it was ordered to pay £1610 in costs,

Mechanical Cleansing Services attended the same hearing and pleaded guilty to breaching reg. 3(6)(a) of the MHSWR 1999, for failing to carry out a risk assessment. It was fined £1000 with costs of £1610.

The same fine and costs were levied on director Damon Roe, who pleaded guilty to breaching s37 (1) of the HSWA 1974.

SHP was unable to contact anyone at Aston Villa, and Mechanical Cleansing Services refused to comment.

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