Seven metre roof fall from “makeshift” access system

An employee of Cairns Heritage Homes Limited was carrying out a repair to the roof of Nottingham Recycling Limited on 1 August 2019 when he fell approximately 7m to the floor below.

A scaffold tower had been constructed for access to the roof but there were inadequate measures in place to ensure that the work would be completed safely.

The worker accessed the roof, attempting to devise his own ad-hoc working methods which included constructing a makeshift ladder/staging system from wooden planks.

An HSE investigation found that Cairns Heritage Homes Limited had been contracted to repair the roof of the recycling plant while a ‘bailing machine’ was not being used.

Serious deficiencies in the planning and supervision of this work were identified together with the absence of a safe system of work.

There were insufficient measures to prevent a fall or minimise the distance or consequences of a fall such as safety netting. The makeshift staging provided by the employee was insufficient and failed to prevent a fall through the fragile roof panels resulting in them sustaining serious injuries.

Cairns Heritage Homes Limited, of Loughborough, Leicestershire pleaded guilty to safety breaches and was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9,981 at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court.

Speaking after the hearing 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.”

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