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Joiner’s fall lands Bradford firm in court

Date:
4 October 2013

A Bradford construction firm has been fined for neglecting safety after a joiner fell six metres through a fragile rooflight at a factory in Leeds.

The 46 year-old self-employed joiner from Bradford, who doesn’t wish to be named, was hired by MD Construction (Bradford) Ltd to remove ventilation turrets from a warehouse roof at Johnsons Apparelmaster in Leeds.

He was sitting astride the roof ridge and reaching for slates to cover an opening left by one of the turrets when his knee went through a nearby rooflight. The worker fell six metres to the factory floor below, but managed to escape with a broken elbow and bruising.

The incident, on 22 November 2010, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted MD Construction Ltd of Westgate Hill Street, Bradford.

Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard that the firm had been contracted by Johnsons to remove five roof turrets to prevent water getting in to its warehouse in Stoney Rock Lane, Harehills.

MD Construction hired the joiner to do the job and also supplied a labourer. The company identified there were potentially fragile rooflights where the work would be taking place and had provided Johnsons with a risk assessment for the work.

However, the court was told by HSE that no safety measures had been put in place by the company to protect workers against falls through the rooflights.

MD Construction (Bradford) Ltd was today (4 Oct) fined £5,000 with £15,000 towards costs after being found guilty of a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After the hearing HSE inspector Martin Hutton said:

"Falls through fragile materials during roof works are an all too common occurrence and the risks are well known in the construction-related industries. While the injuries in this case were not severe, it is only by sheer good fortune that no one was killed.

"A few simple precautions by MD Construction Ltd could have prevented this incident from happening in the first place. Where work near fragile roof materials is necessary, boards or barriers of sufficient strength should be used to cover the area and prevent people or materials falling through.

"Work at height carries significant risk. This prosecution should serve as a reminder of the essential need to properly plan, supervise and carry out these tasks safely."

The latest HSE statistics show that 40 workers were killed and more than 3,400 were seriously injured in falls from height in 2011/12. Further information on safe working at height can be found online at www.hse.gov.uk/falls

Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive 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. Regulation 4(1) 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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