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Construction firm fined after worker’s roof light fall

Date:
13 May 2014

A Sunderland construction firm has been fined after a worker was seriously injured when he fell three metres through a fragile roof light landing on the floor below.

The 29-year-old, from Ryhope, who does not want to be named, was part of a team of workers employed by Brims Construction Ltd to carry out the refurbishment of Pearl Assurance House, New Bridge Street, Newcastle, when the incident happened on 2 September 2013.

As a result of the fall he fractured two vertebrae and suffered severe bruising, but is expected to make a full recovery.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) today (13 May) prosecuted Brims Construction Ltd for safety failings after investigating the incident.

Newcastle Magistrates’ Court heard the worker was on the second-floor roof of the building and frequently had to pass close to two fragile plastic roof lights. At one point he placed an item on one of the roof lights but it fractured, and he fell through, landing on the concrete floor below.

The HSE investigation found there were no barriers or any other safety measures in place to prevent a fall through the roof lights, despite the fact that a consultant working for the company had recommended they were required.

The only precaution was a paper notice attached to the roof lights warning they were fragile, but these had disappeared by the time the incident happened.

The court was told Brims Construction Ltd had failed to provide suitable and sufficient measures to prevent the fall. After the incident the company erected scaffolding fencing at each roof light without impeding any other work.

Brims Construction Ltd, of Austin Boulevard, Quay West Business Park, Sunderland, was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £690 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 9(2)(a) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Speaking after the case, HSE Inspector Martin Smith said:

“This incident could easily have been prevented if Brims Construction Ltd had ensured that the fragile roof lights were either covered or effectively fenced off – something they did very easily after the incident happened.

“Instead a worker suffered a serious fall that could have cost him his life and he was lucky to escape with what were still serious injuries.

“The significant dangers of death and serious injury associated with falls from height during construction work are well-known in the industry and working near fragile roof lights without appropriate safety measures in place is simply not acceptable.”

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

Notes to Editors

1. 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 9(2)(a) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states that “Where it is not reasonably practicable to carry out work safely and under appropriate ergonomic conditions without passing across or near, or working on, from or near, a fragile surface, every employer shall ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that suitable and sufficient platforms, coverings, guard rails or similar means of support or protection are provided and used so that any foreseeable loading is supported by such supports or borne by such protection.

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

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