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Foundry fined after worker fell through roof

Date:
10 March 2014

A Coventry foundry has been fined after a worker broke three ribs after falling five metres through a fragile roof sheet while clearing gutters.

The 49-year-old, who lives in the Coventry area and does not want to be named, also cracked ribs in the incident at Sarginsons Industries Ltd on 2 August 2013.

He was helping out during the foundry’s shutdown period with cleaning and maintenance work, and had been asked by his foreman to clean out the gutters.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found this element of the work had not been risk assessed, and that the worker was not provided with any safe means of doing the cleaning, which involved working at height.

Nuneaton Magistrates’ Court heard that he accessed the gutters by ladder after first climbing onto and across a smaller fragile roof. He then walked and crawled in the gutters alongside open edges and parallel to fragile roof sheets.

He fell five metres through a roof sheet to the factory floor below, suffering the painful rib injuries.

He has also felt numbness in his left leg since the incident as well as ongoing mental anxiety. He is no longer able to drive, struggles with everyday tasks and has been forced to curb his love of Kabaddi, a physical sport in which teams compete to tag opponents.

The court was told that no measures were in place to prevent or mitigate a fall, such as netting on the underside of the roof, and that there was no safe access or working arrangements.

HSE found Sarginsons Industries Ltd had been cleaning gutters in this manner for many years. After the incident, they immediately stopped working in this way.

Sarginsons Industries Ltd, of Torrington Avenue, Coventry, was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £899 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Paul Cooper said:

“The danger posed by working at height, and in particular falling through fragile roof sheets, is well known.

“The company had a risk assessment that stated control measures would be needed for roof working, including creating a safe working platform with scaffold boards, or netting out beneath the roof sheets, as well as close supervision. However, none of this was acted upon.

“Too many people are killed or injured as a result of poorly planned and organised roof work.”

For more information about working at height, go to http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-at-height/index.htm

Notes to Editors:

  1. Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: “Where work is carried out at height, every employer shall take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury.”

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