Fall through fragile rooflight
Fragile roof and material protection
A cleaning firm has been prosecuted after an employee suffered serious injury falling through a fragile rooflight.
The employee was part of a team cleaning acrylic rooflights on a premises when he stepped onto one of the rooflights. The acrylic gave way and the victim fell around 6m through the rooflight to the concrete floor below. As a result of the fall he suffered life changing injuries including a skull fracture and brain damage, leaving him with no sense of smell and taste, impaired sight in one eye and deaf in one ear.
Following the incident, the HSE investigation found that the safety precautions taken by the company were ‘grossly inadequate’. It discovered that the workers had reached the roof using a mobile elevating platform but had only taken six scaffold boards to stand on while jet-washing the rooflights.
The company should have provided proper crawling boards with handrails and netting inside the building to ensure the safety of its workers.
As a result of the prosecution the company was fined £60,000 and ordered to pay £5,741 in costs after pleading guilty to three breaches of the Work at Height Regulations.
The HSE inspector commented on the case: “The victim of this case suffered life-threatening, and now life-changing, injuries and there is no doubt that this could have been a fatality. The risk assessment was not fit for the purpose and the result was the limited safety measures it took to protect the workforce were grossly inadequate. It is unacceptable for firms to put their employees at needless risk. There are several people killed each year and many more badly injured falling through fragile roofs. Work should be planned so no one needs to get onto the roof. Where it is necessary, safeguards such as edge protection, safety nets and roof stagings must be used.”
Falls through fragile roofs or fragile materials such as rooflights cause death and serious injury and account for almost a fifth of all fatal fall from height accidents. Our Roof-Walk, Board-Walk and Valley-Walk products have been designed specifically to provide protection when working on fragile or industrial roofs.