A former Mansfield firm has been prosecuted after an employee fell more than four metres through a fragile rooflight while installing solar panels on a barn in Barnsley.
Magistrates in Barnsley today (5 June) heard the 25-year-old worker, from Mansfield, could have been killed, but had escaped with serious injuries to his wrist, which needed pinning to repair the fractured bones.
The incident, on 19 June 2013 at a farm in the town, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted DAS Technology Ltd, then based in Mansfield, Nottingham, but which has since gone into liquidation.
HSE found company had failed to provide any safeguards to protect workers from falls or to mitigate the dangers from working on fragile surfaces. It had also continued to operate in the same way for two days after the fall until the job was finished, with no-one from the company visiting to investigate or install better safety measures.
The court was told DAS Technology Ltd had also been warned by employees within the company that its system of work was unsafe following a similar incident on a roof eight months earlier.
HSE identified that the work on the roof had been badly planned and employees had not been provided with the right equipment. They were either walking on the roof or from ladders spanning it. There were no arrest nets on the underneath, or lightweight staging on the roof to support the workers safely.
DAS Technology Ltd., c/o the Administrators of Regents Park Road, London, was fined a total of £25,000 and ordered to pay £541 in costs after guilty pleas were entered to two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Dave Bradley said:
“This was a serious incident in which a young man suffered painful injuries, but it could very easily have been a fatality.
“It could have been avoided if DAS Technology had employed controls that are routinely used for work of this nature on fragile roofs. The firm had been warned by its own employees of the dangers but turned a blind eye to ignore those concerns and continued with an unsafe method of work regardless.
“It was also astonishing to find that even after this young man’s fall, they didn’t turn up on site to see what could be done to improve the workers’ protection and again carried on regardless.
“Falls from height can and do kill as well as seriously injured many hundreds of workers each year. The controls needed are well-known in the industry and where contractors are found to be flouting these requirements, they should expect strong enforcement from HSE.”
Information on safe working at height can be found at www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/height.htm
Notes to Editors
- Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: Every employer shall ensure that work at height is properly planned; appropriately supervised; and carried out in a manner which is so far as is reasonably practicable safe.”
- Regulation 9(2) of the same Regulations states: “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 (a)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; (b)where a risk of a person at work falling remains despite the measures taken under the preceding provisions of this regulation, take suitable and sufficient measures to minimise the distances and consequences of his fall.”