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Company in court after man falls from summer house roof

Company in court after man falls from summer house roof

A business from Trowbridge has been fined for safety breaches after a worker suffered serious injuries when he fell from the roof of a summerhouse he was erecting in Christchurch, Dorset.

Bournemouth Magistrates’ Court heard how the 25-year-old employee was constructing the large wooden summerhouse in a private garden with two other employees of Garden Affairs in October 2013. As he stepped on to a tower scaffold from the roof, the scaffold slid on wet decking and fell off the edge, causing the worker to overbalance and fall two metres, hitting the decking before landing on the ground. As a result of the fall he sustained fractures to vertebrae in his lower back, bruising and impact injuries to his left hip, pelvis, back and right elbow – injuries that meant he could not return to work for a month.

An investigation by the HSE found Garden Affairs Ltd failed to put any fall prevention or fall mitigation measures in place to protect the workers. In addition handrails had not been fitted to the two tower scaffolds being used, even though they were available, and the scaffolds were not tied to the structure for stability. They were fined £5,000, ordered to pay £468 in costs and £750 in compensation after admitting a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector James Powell said: “The Work at Height Regulations do not distinguish between low and high falls, so for any work at height, whether two metres or ten, precautions are required to prevent or minimise the risk of injury from a fall.

“Garden Affairs Ltd failed to properly assess the risk and plan the job accordingly. Garden buildings and summerhouses are erected very quickly, often one to three days, and there can be difficulties in providing edge protection due to restrictions such as site boundaries for example.

“However, falls are the biggest cause of death in the construction industry, accounting for 23 fatalities last year (April 2012- March 2013).  Employers need to ensure that the risks of falling from height are identified and managed.

“Poor handling of tower scaffolds also causes a number of injuries and deaths. In this instance, they were not secure and safety features were missing, rendering them unsafe.”