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Firm fined after chimney sweep injured in fall

Date:
5 November 2013

A Clackmannanshire firm has been fined for safety failings after a chimney sweep fell from the chimney stack of a two storey house in Falkirk.

Dylan Skelhorn, 32, from Tillicoultry, was employed by D Henderson Chimney Specialists and Roofers Limited when the incident occurred on 20 June 2011.

Mr Skelhorn had been sweeping the chimney from the top of the chimney stack when he fell, sliding down the pitched roof of the property before falling five metres to the neighbouring garden below.

He fractured two ribs, suffered a collapsed lung and fractured his pelvis, requiring a five day stay in hospital and ongoing physiotherapy and pain relief. He has been unable to return to work, still suffers chronic pain and needs to use crutches.

The company was prosecuted today (5 November) after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that no precautions had been taken by the Company to prevent Mr Skelhorn from falling from the roof. In addition, the company had not carried out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, provided adequate training, or employed a safe system of work for employees engaged in the task of chimney sweeping. These failures exposed workers to an unacceptable level of risk.

D Henderson Chimney Specialists and Roofers Ltd, of Marshall House, Glenfoot, Clackmannanshire, was fined £20,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.   Following the case, HSE Inspector Kerry Elliot, said:

“This incident was entirely preventable. Falls from height are the biggest cause of death and injury in the workplace, and wherever possible employers should try and avoid the need for working at height.

“HSE’s investigation clearly showed that this chimney could have been cleaned from within the property – something this company did not even consider at the time.

“If it is not possible to avoid working at height then employers must ensure that they provide employees with the necessary equipment to keep them safe. Mr Skelhorn wasn’t provided with any equipment to prevent fall or injury and is still suffering from the effects of his injuries two years later.”

For more information about working safely at height visit www.hse.gov.uk/falls

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) 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. In Scotland the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service has sole responsibility for the raising of criminal proceedings for breaches of health and safety legislation.
  3. Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”

 

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