Businesses urged to take proper precautions after worker fractures skull in four

Businesses are being warned to take correct precautions when their staff work at height, after a roofer sustained serious head injuries when he fell nearly four metres through a roof he was working on.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has today (25 September) successfully prosecuted 1st Response Roofing Ltd, of Ilkley, West Yorkshire, for three safety breaches over the incident in January this year.

The company pleaded guilty to all three charges under the Work at Height Regulations 2005 at Skipton Magistrates Court, and was fined £23,500 in total and ordered to pay £3,452 costs.

The fines are substantially higher than in previous cases of this nature because two of the three breaches continued on the day after the roofer, Adam Lambert, suffered his fall. This meant the new Health and Safety Offences Act 2008 came into force, which gives Magistrates more power to hit guilty parties in the pocket.

1st Response Roofing Ltd is believed to be the first company to be successfully fined using the powers in the new legislation.

The court heard that Adam, an employee of 1st Response Roofing Ltd, suffered a fractured skull after falling through a skylight whilst replacing a roof at the garage of Peter Watson Ltd in Skipton. After falling two metres, he struck a tower scaffold, which had formed part of the working platform. He then fell a further two metres on to a concrete floor, where he hit his head on a metal vehicle lift, fracturing his skull.

The HSE investigation found that there were no coverings in place on any of the roof’s skylights to prevent the fall. Furthermore the company had told its employees to erect the tower scaffold when they were not trained to do so. As a result, no handrail was installed and the actual platform was too low to break Adam’s fall. The company had also told the employees to assemble the scaffolding outside the building knowing that they were not trained.

After the hearing HSE Inspector David Welsh commented:

“These are very serious health and safety breaches, as we found that all roof workers at the premises were exposed to risk of injury. As well as poorly assembled scaffolding and tower scaffolds, we found that none of the skylights had been covered to prevent employees from falling through. The measures in place at the time simply did not amount to a safe system of work and as a result Adam Lambert has sustained long-term injuries, which he has yet to recover from fully.

“The hazards and risks of working on roofs are well documented. HSE has produced a lot of guidance over many years because falls from height are a major cause of deaths at work in the United Kingdom. “