No fall prevention facilities were in evidence at the accident site… The owner of a roofing company in Aberdeenshire has been prosecuted after an employee of the company sustained serious injuries after falling five metres.
The 26 year-old roof worker was working on a flat roof with a colleague on 10 November 2010 when the accident occurred.
The accident victim had been fixing some lead parts to the roof and was discarding some lead cut-offs while standing on the flat roof when he lost his balance and fell five metres to the ground below.
He landed on his right side and the impact of the fall caused his right hip to be severed from his thigh bone. He underwent surgery to insert a metal plate and four pins into his hip area and was in hospital for a total of four days while he recovered from the surgery. He also had to take 16 weeks off work before he was in a sufficiently healthy condition to resume his duties and he still experiences some pain in his right hip.
The HSE investigation into the accident discovered a serious lack of safety measures for working at heights. There was no scaffolding or any other kind of fall prevention facilities in place that might have either prevented the fall or lessened the impact of a fall. The HSE were also critical of the fact that the owner of the roofing company had not visited the site in the days preceding the accident to provide any necessary supervision or training.
The owner was fined £15,000 at Aberdeen Sheriff Court after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 4 of The Work at Height Regulations 2005.
Liz Standen, the HSE Inspector who investigated the case spoke after the hearing:
“The man was very lucky to survive a five metre fall. He suffered serious injuries because his employer did not ensure that the flat roof area was safe to use, with the necessary fall prevention equipment in place, before work started and he did not given any specific instructions about how to carry out the work safely.
“This incident was completely avoidable if Mr Mackie had planned the work in advance and simple measures such as suitable barriers had been in place.”
The HSE reported that in 2010/11 a total of 38 people (both employees and self-employed) in Britain died and there were 3,177 serious injuries after work-related falls from height.