Three Essex firms have been fined after an accident at work incident in which a worker fell over 7 meters through a fragile roof.
Accident at work incident
Worker Rafal Myslim was stood on the fragile roof he was replacing at Dengie Crops Ltd in Asheldem at the time of the incident. Chelmsford Crown Court heard how asbestos sheeting in the roof gave way and as a result, Mr Myslim fell 7.5 meters onto the concrete floor below. Mr Myslim also struck a number of pipes within the building as he fell. As a result of the fall, Mr Myslim sustained a hematoma on the brain.
An investigation into the incident by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found three different companies at fault for Mr Myslim’s fall.
Dengie Crops Ltd contracted an agricultural machinery supplier, Ernest Doe & Sons Ltd, to help replace their roof. However, Ernest Doe & Sons Ltd did not have adequate experience in this area and so subcontracted the work to Balsham (Buildings) Ltd. Balsham planned out how the roof replacement should be carried out, but then subcontracted the actual replacement work to Strong Clad Ltd.
The HSE investigation concluded that Ernest Doe & Sons Ltd had no previous experience in working in construction. As a result, the company were unable to act effectively in their role as principle contractor. Furthermore, due to their inexperience, Ernest Doe & Sons Ltd did not recognise the risk of a fall that was highlighted in Balsham’s planning of the work.
The investigation also concluded that all three parties involved failed to put safety measures in place for 40% of the roof that didn’t have netting underneath. Instead, they depended too heavily on the verbal instructions to workers reminding them were the safety netting was and was not.
Sentencing & fines
Ernest Doe & sons Ltd, of Ulting, Essex, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 22 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. The company was fined £360,000 and ordered to pay costs totalling £10,000.
Balsham (Buildings) Ltd, of Balsham, Cambridge, pleaded guilty to breaching 4(1)(a) and 4(1)(c) of the Work at Height Regulation 2005. They were fined £45,000, with costs of £7,000.
Strong Clad Ltd, of Castle Hedingham, Essex, pleaded guilty to breaching 4(1)(a) and 4(1)(c) of the Work at Height Regulation 2005. The company was fined £7,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,000.
Adam Hills, HSE inspector, said:
“The dangers of working on fragile roofs are well documented. Every year too many people are killed or seriously injured due to falls from height while carrying out this work.
“Work at height requires adequate planning, organisation and communication between all parties. This incident was entirely preventable and Mr Myslim is lucky to be alive.”
Accident at work claims – expert advice
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Source: Health & Safety Executive