Company fined after worker suffers life-changing injuries in fall

A Cumbrian construction company has been fined after a man was critically injured falling 10m through the roof of an industrial unit.

Craig Dickson, 39, from Carlisle, suffered multiple serious fractures, in the incident on Heathlands Industrial Estate, Kingmoor Park, Carlisle, on 25 March 2022.

CK Steelwork & Cladding Ltd were the contractor undertaking work on the roof of the building. The roof was known to be fragile, and, at the time of the incident, safety nets were being erected below the work area, although this work had not been completed.

Unit roof

Despite this, Mr Dickson was taken onto the roof by a supervisor to assess the job. While crossing an area of the roof that was not protected by the nets, he stepped onto a weak skylight which gave way, and he fell head-first around 10m onto the concrete floor below.

Mr Dickson shattered most of the bones in his face, hands, and wrists. He lost four teeth and severely damaged his knee. He spent six weeks in intensive care and was confined to a wheelchair for five months. Since the accident he has endured constant pain, and 17 months later is still unable to work; he will never be able to return to his former profession.

HSE has guidance on working safely at height.

In a victim impact statement Craig Dickson said: “The accident broke every bone in my face and knocked out my front four teeth. This has made me have zero confidence and major anxiety, which I now have to see a psychiatrist for, every week. My nose was badly broken, which has left me with no sense of smell, and I have difficulty breathing through it.

“Before my accident I was a very physically and mentally active person and attended the gym on a daily basis and was a keen fell walker and liked to socialise. I am now left in severe pain and now have anxiety and I’m always anxious and find it hard, if not impossible to do anything like I did before the accident.”

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that CK Steelwork & Cladding Ltd of Barras Lane Estate, Dalston, Carlisle, had failed to take appropriate precautions to ensure the safety of workers on the roof.

Skylight roof

The company pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. They were fined £16,000 and were ordered to pay £4,462.59 in costs at a hearing at Carlisle Magistrates Court on 31 August 2023.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Michael Griffiths said: “This was a very serious incident, and it is fortunate Craig wasn’t killed.

“Work on fragile roofs should be planned and controlled, otherwise there is a very high likelihood of a potentially fatal fall, or one resulting in life changing injuries, as we have seen in this case.”

This HSE prosecution was supported by Jonathan Bambro and Rebecca Forman in HSE’s Legal Services Division.

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise.
  2. More information about the legislation referred to in this case is available.
  3. Further details on the latest HSE news releases is available.