Solar panel worker injured in roof fall

If you have been injured whilst working on a roof, you may be entitled to claim compensation.  Call Quittance on 0800 612 7456 for more information.

Company fined for HSE breach

A Glasgow based company has been fined £153,000 after one of its employees fell through a fragile roof light at a private home in Kent.

The man, aged 32, was part of a 3 man team working to replace faulty solar panels on an outbuilding housing a swimming pool. As he walked along the roof carrying a panel he fell through one of the 8 roof lights into the pool below. Although his fall was partially cushioned by the water, he made heavy impact with the side and flooring around the pool, fracturing his shin and a vertebra

An investigation into the incident, which took place on 30 April 2013, by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), found that the company could and should have done more to prevent the fall.

At a hearing at Canterbury Crown Court in January 2016, it was revealed that although the company had provided a scaffold tower, ladder and safety harness for the panel replacement work, none of the installation team had received any formal training or instruction on how they should be used.

This meant the equipment was effectively useless.

In addition the company had failed to take other safety measures, such as providing full scaffolding or hard covers for the roof lights.

It was also heard that the initial installation work had been carried out in April 2011, by the same company, but without incident. However the safety equipment provided on that occasion was also lacking and workers had been put at risk.

The court learned that the company had been served with a Prohibition Notice by HSE in May 2011 to stop unsafe work on a fragile roof in Bristol. Therefore management should have been well aware of the need to ensure adequate provisions were in place to prevent or mitigate falls during work at height.

The company pleaded guilty to 3 separate breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

The regulations state that employers and those in control of any work at height activity must make sure work is properly planned, supervised and carried out by competent people. Competent people are those who have sufficient skills, knowledge and experience to perform the task. If they are being trained they must work under the supervision of somebody competent to do it.

After the hearing an HSE Inspector said that the man and his colleagues were left to carry out the work without the correct equipment and without supervision and that the injured worker could have been killed in the fall. 

The man's injuries were so serious that he was unable to return to work until January 2016 and then only on a part-time basis.

As well as the fine of £153,000 the company was ordered to pay a further £29,480 in costs.

Considerable free guidance regarding the precautions needed when working at height, including on or near fragile roof coverings, is available from the HSE. Work should never be undertaken without proper planning, and without having the appropriate safety measures in place at all times.