Two building contractors have been fined after a worker broke his back when he fell four metres from a roof.
The 36-year-old man from Kettlebrook, Tamworth, fractured a vertebra in his lower back after falling from the roof at Southview Leisure Park, Skegness, on 8 March 2013.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an investigation and yesterday (8 Sept) prosecuted SJ Roberts Construction Ltd, of Welshpool, and Seaton Heating and Engineering Services Ltd of Tamworth.
Lincoln Magistrates’ Court heard that SJ Roberts Construction Ltd had been appointed principal contractor for the installation of a new flume tower and swimming pool extension at the leisure park. Seaton Heating and Engineering Services Ltd were employed as sub-contractors to install a new air-handling unit and associated pipework for the swimming pool.
The man, an employee of Seaton Heating and Engineering Services Ltd , was working on the roof of the swimming pool extension, which was accessed by internal stairs, connecting the various ducts and pipes with the air-handling unit. Most of the roof was protected but a section was left exposed, presenting a fall risk.
While working, the man was standing on a narrow plywood area around half a metre wide, close to the open edge.
His route to the stairs was blocked when he needed to go and collect some tools. While walking along the plywood next to the open edge, the plywood gave way and he fell four metres. He landed on his feet but then fell backwards, landing on concrete and rubble.
He spent five days in hospital and needed a back brace when discharged. He had to stay at his parents’ house for six weeks and was unable to work for more than three months. He has since recovered and is now back fully working.
SJ Roberts Construction Ltd of Marton, Welshpool, pleaded guilty to breaching two Regulations of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. The company was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £645.60.
Seaton Heating and Engineering Services Ltd of Belgrave, Tamworth, Staffordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £7,000 and ordered to pay costs of £519.60
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Chris Copeman said:
“This worker is very fortunate not to have suffered far more serious injuries.
“Throughout the whole process of roof work, there was no adequate protection against falls, such as barriers on the open edge.
“Had he tripped and fallen from the edge of the roof, we could have been dealing with a fatal incident.
“SJ Roberts Construction Ltd and Seaton Heating and Engineering Services Ltd put workers’ lives in danger by allowing them to work on a roof without suitable safety measures being in place. They failed to recognise their responsibility to ensure that work at height carried out under their control was done safely.”
Falls from height are responsible for around a third of workplace deaths every year, with 25 people losing their lives in 2012/13. For further information, go to http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-at-height/index.htm
Notes to editors
1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
2. 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.”
3. Full details of regulation 22(1) of the Construction (Design and Management Regulations) 2007 can be found at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2007/320/regulation/22/made
4. Regulation 26(3) of the Construction (Design and Management Regulations) 2007 states: “Suitable and sufficient steps shall be taken to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that no person uses access or egress, or gains access to any place, which does not comply with the requirements of paragraph (1) or (2) respectively.”