Construction firm fined after worker’s roof light fall
A Sunderland construction firm has been fined after a worker was seriously injured when he fell three metres through a fragile roof light landing on the floor below.
The 29-year-old, from Ryhope, was part of a team of workers employed by Brims Construction Ltd to carry out the refurbishment work in Newcastle, when the incident happened in September 2013. As a result of the fall he fractured two vertebrae and suffered severe bruising, but is expected to make a full recovery. His employer was prosecuted for safety failings after the incident was investigated.
Newcastle Magistrates’ Court heard the worker was on the second-floor roof of the building and frequently had to pass close to two fragile plastic roof lights. At one point he placed an item on one of the roof lights but it fractured, and he fell through, landing on the concrete floor below.
The HSE investigation found there were no barriers or any other safety measures in place to prevent a fall through the roof lights, despite the fact that a consultant working for the company had recommended they were required. In fact, the only precaution in place was a paper notice attached to the roof lights warning that they were fragile, but even these had disappeared by the time he incident had happened. .
The court was told Brims Construction Ltd had failed to provide suitable and sufficient measures to prevent the fall. After the incident the company erected scaffolding fencing at each roof light without impeding any other work.
Brims Construction Ltd was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £690 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 9(2)(a) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
Speaking after the case, HSE Inspector Martin Smith said: “This incident could easily have been prevented if Brims Construction Ltd had ensured that the fragile roof lights were either covered or effectively fenced off – something they did very easily after the incident happened.
“Instead a worker suffered a serious fall that could have cost him his life and he was lucky to escape with what were still serious injuries.
“The significant dangers of death and serious injury associated with falls from height during construction work are well-known in the industry and working near fragile roof lights without appropriate safety measures in place is simply not acceptable.”