Essex farm partnership in court after worker’s grain store fall

A partner of an Essex farm has been fined after a worker suffered serious injuries when he fell four metres from the roof of a grain store at Pages Farm, Stebbing.

The 63-year-old worker, who does not wish to be named, was on the fragile asbestos cement sheeting to repair a leak on 8 August 2013 when it gave way beneath him. He fell onto a car and then rolled onto the concrete floor below.

He sustained fractures to his spine, shoulder, eye socket and ribs, collapsed lungs and lacerations to his scalp. He was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital where he was induced into a coma. Although now able to walk, he suffers memory loss and needs speech therapy and weekly physiotherapy.

Nicholas Reed – trading as Bluegate Hall Farm Partnership – was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation identified he had failed to make sure the work on a fragile roof was carried out safely.

Colchester Magistrates’ Court heard today (3 June) that repair work to the roof was required after a number of leaks had been identified earlier that week.

Although a purpose-built cage and ladder had been provided to access the roof, HSE’s investigation found that there was nothing provided to prevent the worker falling through the fragile material. There were no crawling boards or handrails available on the farm for the worker to use.

Nicholas Reed – trading as Bluegate Hall Farm Partnership – of Bluegate Hall Farm, Great Bardfield, Braintree, Essex, was fined £12,500 and ordered to pay costs of £3,939 after pleading guilty to a single breach the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Nicola Jaynes said:
“What started as a commonplace job for this worker turned into a life-changing event from which he will never fully recover. It could, however, easily have been a fatal incident.

“On average, falls through fragile roofs cause seven fatal injuries every year. Simple, straightforward, common sense procedures would have prevented this fall and the severe consequences it has had for this worker. Nicholas Reed was responsible for ensuring sufficient safety precautions were in place to enable this worker to carry out the task without danger to himself.

“It is essential that the hazards associated with working at height are recognised and understood by those carrying out the work. You should never work on a fragile roof without a safe system of work.”

Further information about working safely at height can be found on the HSE website at

Notes to Editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related 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.
  2. Regulation  9(2)(a) of The Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: “Where it is not reasonably practicable to carry out work safely and under appropriate ergonomic conditions without passing across or near, or working on, from or near, a fragile surface, every employer shall (a) ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that suitable and sufficient platforms, coverings, guard rails or similar means of support or protection are provided and used so that any foreseeable loading is supported by such supports or borne by such protection.”
  3. HSE press releases are available at

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