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Farm business fined after labourer seriously injured in roof fall

24 June 2013

An East Ayrshire dairy farm business has been fined after a labourer was seriously injured when he fell through a rooflight on a cow shed.

Steven Reid, 24, from Cumnock, was cleaning guttering and skylights on the roof of the outbuilding at Lochhill Farm, near Mauchline, when he fell through one of the fragile panes.

He fell 11 feet to the ground below and suffered fractures to his right knee, left ankle and upper front tooth as well as a cut to his head.

Kilmarnock Sheriff Court was told today (24 June) that the dairy farm had been tenanted to the Taylor family since 1911 and was currently operated by the farming partnership Messrs James E Taylor.

The farm labourer had been employed by the partnership since November 2009. On 23 September 2010 he was helping to clear leaves from the roof of the cow shed after gaining access via an attachment on a farm vehicle.

In order to carry out the work by means of a hose he walked along the roof, following a line of bolts, as instructed by Alistair Taylor, one of the partners. This is a dangerous practice, falling far short of that required to work in a safe manner.

The labourer then crossed the apex of the roof to clean the rooflights on the other side of the roof, but one of the rooflights shattered and he fell through.

As a result of his injuries he had to have a wire surgically inserted into his knee and both legs were in plaster from the toe to thigh. He was in hospital for six weeks and has been left with scarring to his knee and inner thigh.

He still does not have full use of his knee and may need further surgery in the future. He also continues to take medication although he has now returned to work as a dairyman at another farm.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that no safety measures had been taken to prevent a fall through or from the roof; no instruction had been given to the labourer as to how to undertake the work safely; and no equipment had been provided to allow the work to be carried out safely.

Meesrs James E Taylor, of Lochhill Farm, Mauchline was fined £10,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act etc 1974.

Following the case, HSE Inspector Lesley Hammond, said:

"Incidents on roofs of this type are commonplace, especially falls through rooflights, which are considered to be fragile, being unable to support the weight of persons walking on them.

"Despite the fact that there is detailed guidance available which would have allowed the partnership to put in place a safe system of work, no safety measures had been taken to prevent such a fall and no instructions had been given as to how the work was to be carried out safely.

"As a result, the labourer sustained severe injuries that have led to permanent disfigurement and impairment in an incident that could have been easily avoided had safety measures been in place.

"It’s a common misconception that if you walk along the bolts on a roof you are ‘safe’ but this is not the case. It is highly dangerous and falls far short of safe working practices."

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.
  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 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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