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Company in court for ignoring safety risks

Date:
15 April 2014

A stone quarrying company in Portland has been fined for safety breaches after a worker fell more than four metres onto a concrete floor, suffering a broken hip and head injuries, while replacing roof lights on a fragile roof.

Weymouth Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday (14 April) that the 50-year-old employee,  from Weymouth, who does not wish to be identified, was on the fragile roof of Portland Stone Firm’s main depot in Easton Street when the incident happened on 16 August 2012.

He was using a ladder and the roof purlins to gain access to the work site because the cherry picker he usually used had been removed from the site by the company.

While replacing a light, he stepped back off the roof purlins and fell 4.5 metres through the fragile roof and onto the concrete floor inside the building.  He sustained a large gash to the back of his head and broke part of his hip bone. He had to undergo a number of hip operations and later lost his job with the company.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the planning and supervision of the work was inadequate, suitable equipment was not provided and Portland Stone Firms Ltd failed to ensure a safe system of work.

HSE told the court that safety measures such as working platforms fitted with guardrails, proper crawling boards, edge protection around the perimeter of the roof, safety nets under the roof or a harness system to mitigate any fall should have been put in place by the company.

Portland Stone Firms Limited of Easton Street, Portland, Dorset pleaded guilty to two breaches of health and safety law including a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company was fined a total of £20,000 and ordered to pay £18,992 costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Mehtaab Hamid said:

“Falling from height is one of the most frequent causes of deaths and injuries by workers. The Work at Height Regulations exist to protect people from serious injury and employers who are prepared to put their workers’ lives at risk by breaching them will be prosecuted.   “Employers must ensure that all work at height, particularly work on fragile roofs, is properly planned and organised and that employees are protected from falls. In this case, Portland Stone Firms neglected to implement basic safety measures to minimise the risk of falls and failed in its duty to ensure the health and safety of its employee.

“Employers have a legal duty to manage safety and failing to do so too often ends in tragedy.”

Further information about working safely at height can be found on the HSE website 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. Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable,  the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”
  3. Regulation 9(2) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: “Employers have a duty to ensure suitable and sufficient platforms, coverings, guardrails or similar means of support and protection are provided and that suitable measures are in place to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall when carrying out work at height from fragile surfaces.”
  4. HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press.

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