Roofing contractor fined after employee fell through fragile roof

A Norwich-based roofing contractor has been fined after his employee fell seven metres through a roof on which he was working.

Sole trader Leighton Johnson and his employee were completing a job on a fragile roof at a factory in Kings Lynn on 11 August 2014.

The 26-year-old employee was kneeling on a scaffolding board on top of the roof when he fell forward and smashed through a roof light. He fell seven metres and landed on a pallet stacked with ceramic mugs below.

He suffered injuries to his back and sternum and wore a full body brace for six weeks after the incident.

Kings Lynn Magistrates’ Court heard (on Wednesday 5 August 2015) how the defendant had not done what the law required – to ensure that work on a fragile roof such as this was planned and managed to ensure the safety of those involved.

HSE’s investigation found that there was no fall prevention or fall mitigation system in place and that the injured person was not harnessed or attached to anything, and was not wearing any safety equipment. There was a lack of any health and safety management or planning for the job and no adequate training or safety equipment had been provided.

Leighton Johnson, of Hare Close, Mulbarton, was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £3,415 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to breaches of Regulations 4(1) and 9(2) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. He must also pay a £300 victim surcharge.

HSE inspector Paul Unwin, who investigated this matter, said:

“This incident caused serious injuries that could have cost a young man his life or prevented him from being able to walk again.

“The risks of working on fragile roofs are well-known but so too are the ways to manage those risks. Sadly, HSE inspectors too often find blatant disregard of easily-accessible guidance, which frequently results in life-changing injuries.

“Work on fragile roofs must be correctly planned and managed to ensure the safety of all involved. The inadequate and unsafe way in which this job was carried out highlights the risks of working at height and how important it is to do it safely right from the start.”

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. Further HSE news releases are available at
  3. More details on the specific breaches in this case can be found at:
  4. More information on fragile roofs safe working practices –
  5. More information on working on roofs –

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