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Blackburn builders merchant fined over roof fall injury

Date:
11 October 2013

A builders’ merchant has been sentenced after a man fell through the roof of its Blackburn warehouse.

The 44-year-old worker from Mellor, who has asked not to be named, was contracted by R&J (Builders Hardware) Ltd to carry out repairs to the roof, but the company failed to make sure that he was competent to carry out the work safely.

The firm was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after the worker fell through a roof light at their premises on the Whitebirk Industrial Estate, Croft Head Road, on 28 September 2010.

Preston Crown Court was told that he fell approximately six metres to the warehouse floor below and sustained two broken wrists, a broken back and an injury in his ankle. He had to have a metal plate inserted in his back and the injuries to his wrists are likely to affect him for the rest of his life.

The HSE investigation found the company failed to check that the contractor they employed was competent to carry out the work on their roof. The company allowed him to walk across the fragile roof without any safety measures in place to stop him falling.

R&J (Builders Hardware) Ltd was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay costs of £20,000 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 on 10 October 2013.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Stuart Kitchingman said:

“This incident resulted in a worker sustaining injuries to his back and wrists that will affect him for the rest of his life because R&J failed to ensure that he was competent to carry out the work safely.

“This case should act as a warning to companies that they can’t just hire a contractor to do a job without checking that they are competent. Firms need to make sure their contractors are aware of fragile roofs and ensure they take adequate measures to prevent falls from or through them.

“Companies should make sure that they find out how contractors intend to carry out work on their roofs and take specialist advice if they’re not sure whether the proposed method of work is safe.”

Information on preventing falls is available at www.hse.gov.uk/falls.

Notes to Editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. Regulation 5 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: “Every employer shall ensure that no person engages in any activity, including organisation, planning and supervision, in relation to work at height or work equipment for use in such work unless he is competent to do so or, if being trained, is being supervised by a competent person.”
  3. HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press.

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