Company fined £12,000 after worker badly injured in five metre fall..
A company that specialises in the installation of solar panels has been prosecuted after a worker fell through a skylight at a warehouse in London.
The 58-year-old accident victim fractured his skull and broke multiple vertebrae and ribs in the accident. He also damaged his hearing in the fall which occurred in Islington on 1 March 2012. He spent over two weeks in hospital while his injuries were treated, and he was unable to resume full employment for almost a year.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court was told that the man was working on a project to install 342 solar panels to the roofs of two warehouses at the time of the accident. On the second day of the project, he fell through a fragile skylight, falling five metres to the concrete floor blow. His fall was partially broken when he landed on a pallet of flour but he still sustained multiple fractures.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the incident was unable to determine precisely how the incident had come to pass, but inspectors did discover a complete lack of fall prevention facilities such as safety netting, that might have prevented the accident. There was also no evidence of a suitable risk assessment for the specific dangers associated with working at heights.
The Midlands-based company was fined a total of £12,000 and ordered to pay £9,041 in additional prosecution costs after pleading guilty to two separate breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
HSE Inspector Paul Hems commented after the sentencing:
“You would expect a company that specialises in roof installations to be fully aware of the risks posed by working at height on, with or near fragile surfaces, and to take the appropriate safety precautions.
“Yet that clearly didn’t happen here, and the accident victim could easily have paid with his life as a result. The District Judge commented, in relation to the system of work proposed but never actually implemented by the company, that it was a ‘defective process and implementation of it was defective’.
“The accident victim suffered terrible injury in a wholly preventable yet depressingly frequent incident, and it is imperative that effective measures are put in place at all times to prevent or mitigate falls.”
Author: Julian Roberts
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