Fall from height caused by a lack of health and safety measures

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A firm has been fined for failing to enact correct health and safety protocols after a worker was injured following a fall from height

Groundworks firm McKeown Groundworks Limited was found guilty of failing to take proper precautions after worker fractured his back following a fall from height.

The case, which was brought before Stranraer Sheriff Court revealed how the 42-year-old man fell 7 metres through a fragile roof in May 2016.

The worker was subcontracted to carry out the job. This comprised of repairs to an agricultural building.

However, when the worker was walking along the roof he stepped on a rooflight. This broke under his weight. As a result the worker fell to the ground below and suffered a compression fracture of the lower back

Health and safety measures overlooked

The court was told that the subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found health and safety measures had not been put into place for the work. The company failed to supervise the job adequately, relying on the workers and their experience to avoid injury while working at height.

Furthermore, there was no plan in place for the work, nor were there any measures to prevent a fall from the roof.

McKeown Groundworks Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 of the Work at Height Regulations 2015. The firm received a £12,000 fine.

Preventable incident

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Helen Diamond said: “McKeown’s failings resulted in serious injuries which could have easily been prevented had the company planned the work at height.

“Planning the work at height would have included an assessment of the risks and ensuring that suitable and sufficient measures were in place to prevent falls from height.”

“Work at height is the biggest single cause of fatal and serious injury in the construction industry, particularly on small projects.”

Working at height can be dangerous if not planned correctly. Around 22 per cent of all fatal injuries from height in the construction industry are through fragile surfaces such as rooflights.

The law is clear on how contractors and firms should undertake this work in a safe manner. This includes correct risk assessment of the danger and then enacting measures to reduce this risk such as using stagings, guard rails and fall arrest systems. Workers should also be informed of the necessary safety precautions and be trained to work in the environment.

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