Solar panel firm in court after roof fall
A solar panel firm has been £153,000 after a worker was seriously injured in a fall through a fragile roof light at a private home in Kent.
The worker fractured his shin and a vertebra in the incident in Hawkinge in April 2013. The roof light the 32-year-old man crashed through was on an outbuilding housing a swimming pool. Although the water partially cushioned his fall, he made a heavy impact with the side and flooring around the pool, and was unable to return to work until January this year and only then on a part-time basis.
Glasgow-based P V Solar UK Limited was sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court after an investigation by the HSE found that more could and should have been done to prevent the fall.
HSE established that a scaffold tower, ladder and safety harness had been provided for the panel replacement work. However, none of the installation team had received any formal training or instruction on how to use them. This effectively rendered the equipment useless. It was also noted that other measures could have been taken, such as providing full scaffolding or hard covers for the roof lights.
The court had also been told that P V Solar was served with a Prohibition Notice by HSE to stop unsafe work on a fragile roof in Bristol in May 2011 and was therefore definitely aware of the necessary safety provisions that must be made for those working at height.
P V Solar UK Limited, of Cambuslang Road, Glasgow, was fined a total of £153,000 and ordered to pay a further £29,480 in costs after pleading guilty to three separate breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Melvyn Stancliffe said: “The injured worker suffered serious injury in the fall and could have been killed. He and his colleagues were effectively left to their own devices with equipment that was not wholly suited for the task at hand. In short, better equipment, training and supervision should have been provided.
“Working on or near a fragile roof or materials is not a task to be undertaken without proper planning, and without having the appropriate safety measures in place at all times. There is considerable free guidance available from the HSE regarding the precautions needed when working at height, including on or near fragile roof coverings.”