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Man falls through pig shed roof as he installs solar panels in York

Man falls through pig shed roof as he installs solar panels in York

1 June 2013 Email this article

 A solar panel installation company in York has fallen foul of the HSE after one of its employees fell four metres through the fragile roof of a pig shed at an East Yorkshire Farm.

In just his second week working for Solar Fit PV Ltd, the man, who had no experience in solar panel installation, was on all fours cutting rails for the panels when he heard a crack and the roof suddenly gave way.

On falling through the roof, the worker landedon a soft layer of animal waste, meaning he was lucky enough to escape severe injury.

York Magistrates’ Court heard that three days before the incident, Solar Fit had taken measurements and started the installation of 100 solar panels on the roofs of two large pig sheds. On the day of the incident, the farm’s owner spoke to Solar Fit’s director on site to raise his concerns about the way the firm was working on the shed roof. He warned that the roof was fragile, and that no work should take place without using crawl boards, which he made available.

Solar Fit’s director ignored this advice, and both the director and his inexperienced employee continued to work unsafely on the roof. The director then left the site and instructed the man to level the rail already on the roof and chop further rails for the panels.

The worker was continuing with the task, unsupervised, when the roof collapsed beneath him. He suffered a radial fracture to his left elbow and bruising to his legs.

The HSE found no precautions had been taken to prevent falls through the fragile roof and there was no edge protection along the ridge or to the left of the roof. A hand rail to the right of the roof only extended partway. Solar Fit PV Ltd was fined a total of £6,000 and ordered to pay £6,585 in costs after admitting two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Andy Denison said: "This worker was extremely fortunate not to have suffered more severe injuries in a fall of four metres. It could even have proved fatal.

"Solar Fit PV Ltd failed to assess the risks before this job started and therefore failed to plan it properly and ensure it was carried out safely. They then chose to ignore the farmer’s warnings and use the crawlboards he had left for their use.

"The company left an inexperienced worker alone to work on the roof without suitable safety measures in place, having told him to walk on the purlins – which is extremely dangerous.

"Falls through fragile roofs and rooflights account for some 22 per cent of falls from height in the construction industry – or seven deaths and around 300 major injuries a year."