A Kent building maintenance company has been fined for safety failings after a worker suffered life-changing injuries when he fell through a fragile garage roof at a site in Bexley.
The 39-year-old man suffered brain injuries and was left partially deaf following the fall at a garage compound in Bourne Road, Bexley, on 20 January 2012.
The worker, a Bulgarian national living in Hornchurch, also fractured his shoulder and lost his peripheral vision as a result of the incident. While being treated in hospital, he contracted MRSA and has not yet been able to return to work.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday (18 December 2013) that he was carrying out repair work to a corrugated garage roof as a self-employed builder for Bexley based Platinum Property Maintenance Ltd.
While clearing moss and debris from the roof with a colleague, the fragile corrugated sheeting gave way and he fell nearly three metres to the concrete floor below.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated and found that no safety equipment, such as harnesses, scaffolding or boards, had been provided by the firm to prevent a fall. In addition, a risk assessment had not been carried out, no documented system of work was in place for roof repairs and there was a lack of adequate supervision.
HSE told the court the fall could have been prevented had the risks been properly assessed, and had the work been better planned and managed.
Platinum Property Maintenance Ltd, of The Cooperage, Old Bexley Business Park, Bourne Road, Bexley, Kent, was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £6,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Ian Shearring said:
“Work at height is inherently fraught with risk, and falls remain the single biggest cause of deaths and serious injury in the construction industry.
“The worker in this case suffered life-changing injuries, but it could easily have resulted in death. It is also fortunate that a colleague who was on the roof with him was not injured.
“This incident could have been prevented had the defendant put in place effective arrangements to ensure the risks were managed and workers were protected.”
The latest HSE statistics show that 40 workers were killed and more than 3,400 were seriously injured in falls from height in 2011/12. Further information on safe working at height can be found online at https://www.hse.gov.uk/falls