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Company in court after man falls from summer house roof

Date:
30 April 2014

A Trowbridge company has been fined for safety breaches after a worker suffered serious injuries when he fell from the roof of a summerhouse he was erecting in Christchurch, Dorset.

Bournemouth Magistrates’ Court heard today (30 April) how the 25-year-old employee from Frome, Somerset, was constructing the large wooden summerhouse in a private garden with two other employees of Garden Affairs Ltd on 21 October 2013. As he stepped on to a tower scaffold from the roof, the scaffold slid on wet decking and fell off the edge, causing the worker to overbalance and fall two metres, hitting the decking before landing on the ground. The man, who does not wish to be named, sustained fractures to vertebrae in his lower back, bruising and impact injuries to his left hip, pelvis, back and right elbow and was off work for more than a month.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Garden Affairs Ltd failed to put any fall prevention or fall mitigation measures in place to protect the workers. In addition handrails had not been fitted to the two tower scaffolds being used, even though they were available, and the scaffolds were not tied to the structure for stability..

Garden Affairs Ltd, Frome Road, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, was fined £5,000, ordered to pay £468 in costs and £750 in compensation after admitting a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector James Powell said:

“The Work at Height Regulations do not distinguish between low and high falls, so for any work at height, whether two metres or ten, precautions are required to prevent or minimise the risk of injury from a fall.

“Garden Affairs Ltd failed to properly assess the risk and plan the job accordingly. Garden buildings and summerhouses are erected very quickly, often one to three days, and there can be difficulties in providing edge protection due to restrictions such as site boundaries for example.

“However, falls are the biggest cause of death in the construction industry, accounting for 23 fatalities last year (April 2012- March 2013).  Employers need to ensure that the risks of falling from height are identified and managed.

“Poor handling of tower scaffolds also causes a number of injuries and deaths. In this instance, they were not secure and safety features were missing, rendering them unsafe.”

Further information about working safely at height can be found on the HSE website at http://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)c of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: “Employers must ensure that work at height is carried out in a manner which is, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe, so as to prevent the fall of any person, whilst engaged in work on the roof of a structure.”

3. HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press.

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