Roof fall puts worker in hospital

A builder has been fined £750 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 4 of the Work at Height Regulations Act 2005. A 25 year old worker was injured when he fell through the fragile asbestos roof onto tensioned wire.

The employee was instructed, along with several other people, to repair the cowshed roof at a local farm. The Court heard how the worker had been lifted up onto the roof by standing on a silage cutter which was fitted to a telehandler. The roof was found to be only 6mm thick and there were no roof timbers or supports underneath.  The workers were advised by their employer to use boards to spread their weight. However, the worker stepped off the cutter and walked onto the roof and after a short distance the roof sheets collapsed inwards, causing him to fall.

As a result of the fall, the man was taken to hospital and was treated for bruising to his ribs and a cut to his head. He was discharged from hospital the following day and made a full recovery.

The HSE investigation found that the worker had alerted his colleagues to the dangers of the roof and its fragility, but that he advised it was ok if timbers and boards were used to spread their weight. The HSE found this method to be woefully inadequate and out of date and also stated that the use of the telehandler and silage cutter to gain access to the roof was also dangerous and there was a significant risk of falling.

The HSE discovered that the builder/employer was not on site all the time and only attended sporadically to check the progress of the work, and that the instructions and advice that had been given to the men were inadequate. The men themselves were not competent and trained for the task.

Following the case, HSE Principal Inspector Graeme McMinn, said:

“This was an entirely avoidable incident. Falls from height remain one of the most common reasons for injuries and even fatalities at work, and Mr Coe was extremely fortunate not to have been more severely injured.”

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