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Firm fined after chimney sweep injured in fall

Firm fined after chimney sweep injured in fall

2 December 2013 Email this article

A Clackmannanshire firm has been fined for safety failings after a chimney sweep fell from the chimney stack of a two storey house in Falkirk.

Dylan Skelhorn was employed by D Henderson Chimney Specialists and Roofers Limited when the incident occurred in June 2011. While sweeping the chimney stack he fell, sliding down the pitched roof of the property before falling five metres to the neighbouring garden below.

He fractured two ribs, suffered a collapsed lung and fractured his pelvis, requiring a five day stay in hospital and ongoing physiotherapy and pain relief. He has been unable to return to work, still suffers chronic pain and needs to use crutches.

After an HSE investigation, it was found that no precautions had been taken by the Company to prevent Mr Skelhorn from falling from the roof. In addition, the company had not carried out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, provided adequate training, or employed a safe system of work for employees engaged in the task of chimney sweeping.

D Henderson Chimney Specialists and Roofers Ltd was fined £20,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.  

Following the case, HSE Inspector Kerry Elliot, said: “This incident was entirely preventable. Falls from height are the biggest cause of death and injury in the workplace, and wherever possible employers should try and avoid the need for working at height.

“HSE’s investigation clearly showed that this chimney could have been cleaned from within the property – something this company did not even consider at the time.

“If it is not possible to avoid working at height then employers must ensure that they provide employees with the necessary equipment to keep them safe. Mr Skelhorn wasn’t provided with any equipment to prevent fall or injury and is still suffering from the effects of his injuries two years later.”