Accident victim falls six metres after fibre roof panel collapses…
A company in Northumberland along with two of its directors had to pay fines and costs totalling almost £100,000 after a teenage employee died after falling from the roof of a barn.
The young man had been attempting to repair some roof lights when the accident occurred on 23 July 2010. He had been standing on a roof panel made of fibre but it collapsed suddenly causing the accident victim to fall through the roof and all of six metres to the concrete floor below. He was immediately rushed to hospital but died as a result of the injuries he sustained in the fall two days later.
The subsequent investigation conducted by both the HSE and the Northumberland police revealed that the work had not been planned to account for the dangers of working at heights. Newcastle Crown Court also heard that the equipment used was not of a sufficiently high standard for work of this kind and the employees didn’t receive the necessary training or supervision.
The company was fined a total of £65,000 for breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 while the owner of the company was fined £13,000 and his son, a fellow director, was fined a further £2000. The defendants were also asked to pay costs £19,000.
HSE Inspector Martin Smith spoke after the hearing:
“This was a tragedy that could and should have been avoided. Instead a young man has lost his life as a result of collective failures including confusing instructions on how the work should be safely carried out, a lack of supervision and a failure to properly plan the work and provide adequate equipment.
“Falls through fragile roofs, often at agricultural premises, are a common cause of fatalities in the workplace. Maintenance to industrial roofs should ideally be carried out from below using a safe working platform. If access onto a fragile roof surface is unavoidable, then adequate working platforms should be provided on the roof slope with safety nets installed beneath.
“I hope all those involved in this kind of building repair work can learn from this and appreciate the high risk involved with work at height on fragile roofs. As this case shows, being aware of the risk is not enough to prevent it from happening.”
The HSE report that in the last year more than 4,000 employees suffered a major injury as a result of a fall from height while at work in the UK and 12 employees lost their lives.
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