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Company fined after worker injured in roof fall

Date:
26 February 2014

An Edinburgh-based contracting firm has been fined for safety failings after a worker was injured when he fell five metres head first through a roof light.

Kieran Thomson was repairing roofs at J Smart & Co (Contractors) PLC’s own plant yard at Redbraes Place when the incident occurred on 7 December 2012.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court was told today (26 February) that Mr Thomson was on the roof of an old joiners’ workshop when he asked a colleague to pass him up a ladder. Mr Thomson levered it onto the top of a scaffold pole and walked backwards pulling the ladder on to the roof. As he did so he caught his heel on a domed plastic rooflight and, despite trying to stop himself, fell head first through it.

He fell five metres and struck his head on the table of an industrial floor-mounted bandsaw, which had no blade, before landing on his side on the floor. He was taken to hospital with bruising on his left arm, leg and side, a cut to the back of his head and cuts to his legs. He was discharged later that evening and returned to work four weeks later.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that J Smart & Co had failed to carry out a risk assessment in advance of the work starting, and that there were no measures in place to prevent people stepping or falling onto the roof light, such as protective covers or perimeter barriers.

The investigation concluded the firm had failed to properly plan and appropriately supervise work being carried out at height, and ensure that the work was carried out in a safe manner.

J Smart & Co (Contractors) PLC, of Crammond Road South, Edinburgh, was fined £1,600 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 4 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Following the case, HSE Inspector Isabelle Martin, said:

“This was an entirely avoidable incident. Falls from height remain one of the most common reasons for injuries and even fatalities at work, and it is fortunate that Mr Thomson survived such a fall.

“J Smart & Co (Contractors) PLC should have carried out a risk assessment before work started. It is well known that roof lights are fragile and the control measures required to ensure that people do not fall through them are equally well known.”

Falls through fragile roofs and fragile roof lights account for almost a fifth of all the fatal accidents which result from a fall from height in the construction industry. On average seven people are killed each year after falling through a fragile roof or fragile roof light. Many others suffer permanent disabling injury.

For more information about working at height log onto the HSE website at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/falls/index.htm

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. www.hse.gov.uk
  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— (a) properly planned; (b) appropriately supervised; and (c) carried out in a manner which is so far as is reasonably practicable safe.”
  4. HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press

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