Scaffolder falls through roof while installing edge protection

The 37-year-old scaffolder was working for Worden Scaffolding, part of GK Worden & Son Limited, on a commercial project at an industrial unit in Liskeard on 22 July 2019.

The company had been tasked with installing edge protection on the unit’s asbestos cement pitched roof, which had fibreglass rooflights running along it.

The scaffolder was walking up the apex of the gable end of the roof when he stepped on and fell through a rooflight, landing on a concrete mezzanine floor about 3m below.

He suffered a complex fracture to the wrist and hand, a broken rib and a bruised kidney.

An HSE investigation found that another scaffolder from Worden Scaffolding had also been exposed to similar risks of working near fragile rooflights at the same site in the months before.

In both instances, HSE found the work was not properly planned, appropriately supervised or carried out in a safe manner when the incident occurred.

The workers were on the roof without edge protection, crawling boards, harnesses, lanyards or nets. The company had a duty to control how the work was carried out, including staff instruction.

GK Worden & Son Ltd of Gunnislake, Cornwall, pleaded guilty to safety breaches and was fined £24,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,000 at Plymouth Magistrates’ Court.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Peter Buscombe said: “This worker’s injuries were serious. This incident could have been avoided if basic safeguards had been put in place.

“Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities and injuries in this country and the risks associated with working on or near fragile surfaces are well-known.”

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