Roofing firm fined £4,000 after a worker seriously injured in fall from primary school roof

A 51-year-old worker suffered fractures to his spine, breastbone and narrowly avoided being paralysed when he fell from a primary school room.

The employer was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found the firm had failed to put measures in place to prevent workers falling through skylights.

The Magistrates’ Court was told that the firm had been hired to replace the roof on the school and that skylights had been removed and the roof felted over, before another team was sent up to install new tiles.
The worker stepped backwards onto the unsupported felt over a skylight hole and fell three metres to the floor below, striking a partition wall as he fell.

The man was in hospital for two months and will never be able to return to work due to the extent of his injuries. The court heard his injuries could have been avoided if Swindells had planned the work properly and arranged for pieces of plywood to be put over the skylight holes.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Chris Hatton said: “The worker could easily have been killed when he fell through the roof and will be affected by his injuries for the rest of his life.

“If the company had taken the simple measure of fitting pieces of plywood over the holes then his injuries could have been avoided, but it failed to properly plan the work and anticipate the dangers.

Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: “Where work is carried out at height, every employer shall take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury.”

Falls from height are the biggest single cause of workplace deaths in Great Britain. Information on preventing them is available at www.hse.gov.uk/falls