Firm fined after a man fell through fragile roof onto concrete

A construction company was fined after a worker fell through a roof three metres onto a concrete floor below.

On Friday 3 July, the Magistrates’ Court heard how the company had been contracted to refurbish a number of industrial units at Slough Business Park in the autumn of 2013.

The work included cleaning and repair work to the multi pitched asbestos cement roofs over the units. The work was to be done by sub-contractors under the direct control of director of the company. A large part of the roof comprised of vertical polycarbonate skylights along the internal gutters of the roof.

During the work, 55-year-old sub-contractor,  fell three metres through the fragile material to a concrete floor below. He suffered multiple injuries including cracked ribs and was unable to work for two months.

The company from London, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1)(a) and 9(2)(a) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £20,000 with costs of £880 with £120 victim surcharge.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector  said: “The mans’ painful injuries could easily have been avoided had the roof refurbishment been better planned and managed.

“As principal contractor, the onus was on the company to ensure that happened, but they failed to identify and address the risks associated with the fragile sky lights. Falls through fragile roofs account for almost a quarter of all work at height deaths, so it is absolutely vital that any such work is fully considered and that the correct equipment and working methods are used at all times.

“On this occasion the simple installation of guardrails against the sky lights and a proper assessment of all the roof materials would have prevented the incident.”