In June 2017 a Scottish-based groundwork company was fined after a worker fell more than seven metres through a fragile roof. The company that employed the worker was fined £12,000 by the Sheriff at Stranraer Sheriff Court for failing to adequately supervise their worker.
Events leading to the accident at work
In May 2016 a 42-year-old worker arrived at a farm to start work on the roof of a barn. The company relied on this worker's experience whereas it should have carried out a risk assessment and adequately supervised the worker in order to avoid injury.
As the worker walked along the roof he stepped on a translucent light panel which broke under his weight resulting in him falling through the roof onto the ground below. The worker suffered a fracture of his lower back as a result of this incident.
Health and Safety Investigation
An investigation was carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The investigation concluded that the groundworks company had failed to adequately supervise the work that was taking place at height. It was found that the company had failed to plan the work at height and no control measures had been put in place to prevent workers falling from or through the roof of the barn.
The company were held to have breached Regulation 4 of the Work at Height Regulations 2015. Regulation 4 states that "every employer shall ensure that work at height is properly planned, appropriately supervised, carried out in a manner which is so far as is reasonably practicable safe and appropriate work equipment should be used."
Lessons to be learned
The failures of this company resulted in serious injury being sustained by one of their workers. This accident could have been easily preventable had the company planned the work at height in an appropriate manner and taken account of the relevant regulations.
Reasonable planning would have included an assessment of the risks and ensuring that suitable and sufficient measures were in place to prevent falls from height. It is imperative that companies take all necessary precautions to ensure that Scottish workers are kept safe.
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