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Hereford building firm fined for employee roof fall

19 July 2013

A Hereford construction firm has been fined for safety failings after an employee fractured his back when he fell more than three metres through a roof.

The 49 year-old, from Hereford, who has asked not to be named, had been working to convert a garage into a garden room at a home in Westhide, Hereford when the incident occurred on 24 May last year.

Nunnington-based S C Joseph, was today (19 July 2013) prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found the firm had failed to ensure suitable measures were in place to prevent or mitigate a fall.

Herefordshire Magistrates’ Court heard the employee had been working on the roof to install two roof lights. He stepped onto a roofing batten that he had placed across a metre square hole cut for one of the lights by his colleagues. It gave way and he fell some 3.5 metres onto the concrete floor below, fracturing his vertebrae. He was off work for eight weeks.

The court was told the company should have put safety measures in place below the open holes in the roof, such as a platform or a birdcage scaffold that would have allowed work from below.

S C Joseph, of Sandalwood, Nunnington, Hereford, pleaded guilty to a single breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company was fined a total of £4,000 and ordered to pay £1,516 in prosecution costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Keiron Jones said:

"Falls from height are the biggest cause of workplace deaths and injuries, yet with some simple measures they can easily be prevented.

"S C Joseph should have carried out a proper assessment of the risks and then controlled them so that the work could be carried out safely. Had there,nfor example, been a platform beneath the roof opening then the worker could have avoided the serious back injury he sustained."

Information on preventing workplace falls is available 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 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. Regulation 6 (3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: "Where work is carried out at height, every employer shall take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury.

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