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  Firm fined after worker falls eleven feet through roof

Firm fined after worker falls eleven feet through roof

27 September 2013 Email this article

A midlands maintenance firm has been fined after an employee was seriously injured when he fell 11 feet through a fragile roof while carrying out roof work in Nottingham.

Stephen Bassford, 58, fractured his pelvis, wrenched his shoulder and sustained severe gashes to his face and left elbow in the incident in July of last year. He required extensive physiotherapy and stitches and was unable to work for four months.

His employer, Data Contracts Specialist Maintenance Ltd, based in Walsall, was prosecuted by the HSE after an investigation into the fall identified safety failings.

Nottingham Magistrates' Court heard that Mr Bassford was working alone for the company at the former Shepherd Special School, on Harvey Road. He was boarding over broken rooflights on the main building as well as a fragile roof canopy that covered part of the playground.

Heavy rain caused him to stop work and as he was collecting his tools, he slipped and fell through the fragile perspex roof canopy and plunged to the concrete floor below.

HSE found that Data Contracts Specialist Maintenance Ltd failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment or properly plan or supervise the work. Although the firm had highlighted the need for a scaffold and harness system in its quotation for the work, neither was put in place.

Astonishingly, although Mr Bassford had worked for the company for 18 years, but had never received any training or instructions for working safely at height.  

Magistrates were told that had simple measures been taken to prevent or mitigate a fall, such as scaffolding or a harness; or steps taken to prevent Mr Bassford working near, or on a fragile surface, then the incident could have been avoided.

The company was fined £11,000 and ordered to pay £9,732 in costs after pleading guilty to two separate breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Speaking after the prosecution, HSE Inspector Frances Bailey said:"Mr Bassford sustained serious injuries and could have died as a result of the fall. He had been working alone at the derelict school, so it was fortunate that he was able to call the emergency services himself after the incident occurred.

"The dangers of working at height and near fragile materials are well known, yet incidents of this kind occur all too often. This fall could have easily been prevented if Data Contracts Specialist Maintenance Ltd had properly assessed the risks and put simple measures in place to minimise them. The implementation of an appropriate plan would also have ensured that anyone undertaking the work was properly supervised and protected.

"This prosecution should serve as a reminder to all companies of their legal duties to manage safety and provide the protection required to safeguard workers from falls."