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Council fined after worker seriously injured in roof fall

11 July 2013

A local authority has been fined after a worker was seriously injured when he fell through a garage roof light at a council depot.

Douglas McGregor, a 52-year old Council employee, was working on the removal and replacement of the roof light at The Moray Council depot in Balloch Road, Keith, on 27 May 2011, when he lost his balance.

Elgin Sheriff Court was told today (11 July), that he was one of two workers who had gained access to the roof using a ladder. They were standing on scaffolding batons placed onto cement sheets on either side of the roof light, but the one under Mr McGregor slipped, causing him to lose his balance.

He fell nearly three metres head first through the roof light and landed on the concrete floor below. He suffered serious injuries to the right side of his body including a broken pelvis, collar bone and numerous ribs. He also suffered a serious blow to the head.

He had to use a wheelchair for eight weeks, then a walking frame and was unable to drive for three months. He was off work until the end of November 2011, but has since made a reasonably full recovery.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that the garage roof light was fragile and unable to safely support the weight of someone standing or walking on it. The work was undertaken in an unsafe manner and insufficient safety measures had been taken to prevent a fall through or from the roof.

The investigation also found that no information or supervision had been provided to ensure the workers would be carrying out the work safely.

The Moray Council, of High Street, Elgin, Moray was fined £4,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 4 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Following the case, HSE Principal Inspector John Blackburn, said:

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

"Although the council had provided staff with training in relation to working at height, its main focus was on the use of mobile elevated work plants and basic scaffolding. There was no information or supervision to ensure this work was carried out safely and it was effectively left to the workers’ own judgment to decide how the job was to be done.

"As a result the work was carried out in an unsafe manner, with insufficient safety measures taken to prevent such a fall. This led to a worker suffering severe injuries and others being put at risk in an incident that could have been easily avoided had safety measures been in place."

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. Regulation 4 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: Every employer shall ensure that work at height is properly planned, appropriately supervised and carried out in a manner which is so far as is reasonably practicable safe, and that its planning includes the selection of work equipment in accordance with Regulation 7.

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