Firm fined after worker falls from ‘fragile roof’

A Leicestershire contractor has been fined £80,000 after an employee suffered serious injuries falling through a “fragile roof”.

Cairns Heritage Homes was prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The firm must also pay legal costs of £9,981.

Cairns was repairing the roof of Nottingham Recycling in August 2019 when the unnamed worker fell to the ground from about seven metres, sustaining “life-changing” serious injuries.

A scaffold tower had been constructed to access the roof, but measures to ensure the work could be completed safely were “inadequate”, the HSE said.

Faced with these faults, the worker tried to devise his own working methods on the spot, which included constructing a “makeshift” ladder and staging system from wooden planks.

The HSE found “serious deficiencies” in the planning and supervision of the work and the absence of a safe system of work.

There were “insufficient measures” to prevent a fall or to minimise consequences, such as safety netting, the regulator added. The makeshift staging provided by the employee was “insufficient and failed to prevent a fall through the fragile roof panels” – resulting in injuries.

HSE inspector Philip Gratton said: “Work on fragile roofs accounts for around a fifth of all fatal incidents that occur in the construction industry.

“Those in control of work on fragile roofs and other work at height have a responsibility to devise safe methods of work and to provide the necessary information, instruction, training, and supervision of their workers.

“If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to this incident, the life-changing injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented.”

Last month, the boss of a Lancashire-based roofing firm was handed a suspended prison sentence after an employee fell and died at a construction site.

Last month, HSE announced that it would be clamping down on unsafe practices on construction sites by carrying out site checks to investigate how workers move heavy and bulky materials. The regulator will carry out 1,000 inspections over the next two months in a bid to prevent injuries caused by unsafe lifting operations.

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