Cleaning firm fined after employee’s fall
A cleaning company has landed in court for safety failings after one of its employees sustained life-changing injuries when he plunged six metres through a fragile roof light.
Cleansafe Services (UK) Ltd, had sent a small team to carry out a contract-clean of 24 acrylic roof lights at a car rental premises in Eastbourne.
One of the workers, who would rather not be named, had just returned to the roof after inspecting a cleaned light from ground level. As he did, he stepped onto a roof light and the acrylic gave way, sending him plummeting to the concrete floor below.
The 36-year-old suffered a complex skull fracture and brain damage, several broken ribs and multiple arm and wrist fractures. He was in hospital for nearly two months, part of the time in an induced coma, and has been unable to return to work.
Additionally, he has lost his sense of taste and smell, has impaired sight in one eye and is totally deaf in one ear.
An investigation into the accident found that the safety precautions taken by the company were ‘grossly inadequate’.
The injured worker and his colleague had reached the roof using a mobile elevating platform but had taken only six scaffold boards to stand on while jet-washing the roof lights. However, the investigation found that Cleansafe could have hired a mobile working platform that had an extended reach – making it unnecessary to even go on the roof; or used proper crawling boards with handrails and netting inside the building.
What was the outcome?
Cleansafe Services (UK) Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the Work at Height Regulations, and was fined a total of £60,000 and ordered to pay £5,741 in costs.
HSE inspector, Amanda Huff, said:
“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.
“Cleansafe Services is a commercial company operating throughout the
country but had no experience of working on fragile roofs. 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.”
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