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Major firm fined after injury in rooflight fall

A technician fell through the roof of a water pumping station in Cambridge, resulting in a fractured vertebra, and as a result a water services company and its sub contractor have been duly fined.

The technician fell through an unmarked fragile roof light, whilst recording data from a rain gauge on the top of a pumping station and suffered a debilitating fracture, with ongoing employment implications.  His employer admitted breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company failed to ensure the health and safety of those working near unmarked fragile skylights, where skylight protection or personal protective equipment could so easily have been provided

An occurrence which is frequently in the news is that the company concerned failed to adequately identify the risks associated with working near the unmarked fragile skylights and as a result suffered a significant financial penalty, enhanced by an admittance of breach of Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work act, in relation to a separate working at height issue.

A HSE Inspector stated “Incidents such as this particular fall are entirely avoidable. Falling from height is one of the most obvious and well-known dangers for those working on roofs, and at all times fall prevention systems should be installed, annually re-tested, and used by all personnel working on the roof”

Unfortunately, employers and Property owners don’t appear to be listening.  This is not an isolated event, over 4,000 British employees suffered serious injuries after falling from height in 2008/09. Employers need to plan ahead and assess potential risks before carrying out any work at height.  Heightsafe Systems provide personal  and collective fall arrest solutions for working at height.

The HSE runs a high-profile Shattered Lives campaign about slips, trips and falls in the workplace and employers can find out more by visiting the website at www.hse.gov.uk/shatteredlives

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