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Somerset contractor in court for worker’s injuries in roof fall

Date:
5 November 2014

A former Tiverton building firm has been fined for safety failings after a worker suffered severe arm injuries when he fell through an unguarded fragile roof light.

Paul Osmond, of Hele, Exeter, broke his right arm and injured his left shoulder in the incident at a warehouse in Bancombe Court, Martock, on 31 January this year. He fell 4.5 metres onto a concrete floor after stepping onto the skylight.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which today (4 November) prosecuted Philip Saunders Building Contractors at Yeovil Magistrates’ Court.

The court heard that Mr Osmond and a fellow workman were tasked with installing a new roof over an existing tin one.

No mention had been made of the fragile skylights before the work began and no arrangements had been made to install netting to lessen the impact of any falls.

The duo arrived at the site early in the morning while it was still dark. Both warehouses were locked so there was no means way of gaining access to install safety netting anyway.

When Mr Osmond stepped onto the skylight it gave way, sending him crashing to the floor below. His arm required surgery and was in plaster for six weeks, rendering him unable to work.

HSE’s investigation found no safe system for covering the skylights had been shown to Mr Osmond or his colleague, such as placing netting or scaffolding underneath to prevent falls.

Philip Saunders Contractors Ltd, of Tiverton, which is now in liquidation, was fined £12,500 and ordered to pay £2,850 in costs after pleading not guilty breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

HSE Inspector James Lucas, speaking after the hearing, said:

“Although Mr Osmond’s injuries have caused him a great deal of pain and discomfort, he was fortunate his injuries were not more serious or even fatal.

“This incident could easily have been prevented if the job had been planned properly and safety netting or scaffolding installed.

“Falls from height are the biggest cause of workplace deaths and it’s crucial that employers make sure work sufficient measures are put in place to protect staff from the risks. There is no excuse for employers failing to safeguard workers who have to work at height.”

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

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