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Firm fined after worker seriously injured in roof fall

19 August 2013

A Motherwell firm has been fined for safety failings after a worker was seriously injured when he fell more than four metres from the flat roof of a single storey extension being built at Ardrossan.

The 33-year old labourer, employed by Murdoch Mackenzie Construction Limited, was working on a farm in Ardrossan, on 23 February 2011, when he fell over an unprotected edge whilst walking backwards spreading out polythene sheeting on the flat roof.

The worker, from Larkhall, who has asked not to be named, landed on the ground below in a gap between newly installed decking and the building that was being extended. He suffered serious injuries including a fractured collar bone and bruising to his right lung. He needed an operation to insert a metal plate and bone graft to repair his collar bone.

Kilmarnock Sheriff Court was told today (19 August), that he was one of two men working on the roof, which had scaffolding to only two sides and no guard or handrails or other edge protection.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that there was a total lack of edge protection or any other means to prevent falls from height along the roof edge where the worker fell. The scaffolding had not been built around the full roof edge to allow patio doors to be fitted, but it was never assembled in that area even after the doors were put in. The work on the roof carried on and was therefore undertaken in an unsafe manner as a result.

Murdoch Mackenzie Construction Limited, of Coursington Road, Motherwell, Lanarkshire was fined £13,400 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Following the case, HSE Inspector Graham Mitchell, said:

"This was an entirely avoidable incident. This employee sustained serious injury from which he is still recovering.

"Murdoch McKenzie Construction was subject to enforcement action in 2010 after another of its employees fell from a flat roof house extension on which he was working. Although that worker escaped serious injury the company should have taken that incident as a clear signal that it needed to improve its safety procedures and monitor their implementation.

"Just three days after the incident in Ardrossan an attempt was made to provide edge protection by fitting wooden hand rails along one edge which was clearly too late to be of any use to the injured worker. The company was already using scaffolding, so it would have been straightforward and relatively inexpensive to have planned the work and stopped anyone going onto the roof until scaffolding had been continued along the unprotected edge.

Falls from height remain one of the most common reasons for injuries and even fatalities at work and it is extremely fortunate that this employee survived such a fall."

For more information about working at height log onto the HSE website at:

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 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states:"Every employer shall ensure that when work is carried out at height, suitable and sufficient measures are taken to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, employees falling a distance liable to cause injury."

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