Scaffolding Firm Prosecuted After Worker Falls Through Roof

Roof Fall Leads To Large Fine For Northampton Firm

20.05.2014

A scaffolding firm has been prosecuted and fined following an incident in which one of its workers suffered life-changing injuries after falling through a fragile roof.

Beekay Scaffolding and contractor William Thomas Toone, who trades as Industrial Roofing Services, were both investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after the fall in August 2013, when the worker plunged nine metres to a concrete floor.

He suffered multiple fractures including three breaks to his right arm and several around his face and head, plus a punctured lung, chest damage and a severely gashed right leg. As a result, he has been unable to work since, has limited movement in his right arm and right leg, suffers numbness in his left arm, has chest problems and experiences dizzy spells.

The incident happened when he was walking on an asbestos cement sheeting roof in Watford Village, which gave way.

An HSE investigation found that repair work on the roof had been planned in two stages, with protective nets and scaffolding being placed on the south side of the roof, with the second phase seeing it moved to the north side to complete the job.

However, failures in planning meant that the worker had to walk with scaffolding poles across an unsafe area lacking edge protection or netting, while no platforms were being used.

Acknowledging these failures and the role they played in the accident, both companies pleaded guilty to safety failures at Northampton Magistrates' Court. Beekay Scaffolding admitted two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and one breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, while Mr Toone was guilty of a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Beekay Scaffolding was fined £6,000 with costs of £2,640, while Mr Toone was fined £2,500 with costs of £1,400.

Following the hearing, HSE inspector Richard Lockwood commented: "We could easily be talking about a fatal incident. Simple, straightforward, common sense procedures could have prevented this fall and the severe consequences it has had for one worker and his family."

Similar recent HSE prosecutions include that of Sunderland-based Brims Construction, after a worker fell through an unguarded roof light in Newcastle last year and sustained two broken vertebrae.

Expert Opinion
This worker suffered devastating, life-changing injuries as a result of two companies failing to take steps to protect the safety of workers.

“We continue to see the horrendous consequences of inadequate safety precautions for those who work at heights, despite the work the HSE does in raising awareness of the risks.

“Prosecutions such as these must serve as a reminder to employers within the construction industry about the importance of ensuring every possible step is taken to create a safe working environment for staff.”
Stephen Nye, Partner