The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is warning employers to ensure they take proper precautions to prevent employees from falling from height.
This warning follows HSE’s prosecution of a Coventry company after an employee dislocated two fingers, fractured his left wrist and injured his eye socket after falling from a 3.5m high roof. HSE brought charges against the company under Regulation 4 and Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 following its investigation into the incident on 2 December 2008 at a unit in Bilton Industrial Estate, Coventry.
Thornett Mechanical Services Ltd, of Napier Street, Coventry, was fined a total of £2500 and ordered to pay costs of £2151.50 at Coventry Magistrates’ Court on 13th May 2009 after the company pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety legislation.
The employee was constructing the roof of an acoustic booth at a height of 3.5 metres. Access to the roof was via a mobile tower scaffold. To undertake the roof work, it was necessary for the employee to work on the roof and use two planks to kneel and stand on. He was kneeling on the roof perimeter when his drill bit broke, jolting him forward. As a result, he lost his balance and fell onto a concrete floor.
Speaking after the case, HSE investigating inspector Pam Folsom said: “Thornett Mechanical Services Ltd failed to carry out a risk assessment or plan a safe system of work. This could have involved fabricating the roof at floor level and lifting it into position so that the perimeter fixings could then be undertaken from the tower scaffold, or erecting edge protection around the roof’s perimeter as the tower scaffold only covered the width of the booth.
“The injured man had not been trained to work at height and his supervisor had not been trained to conduct risk assessments. Furthermore, the supervisor had not done any work at height training himself.
“Such failures are unacceptable, especially as HSE has published a wealth of advice and guidance for employers to help them reduce the risk of falls from height. HSE has also recently launched the ‘Shattered Lives’ campaign to raise awareness of slips, trips and falls in the workplace.”