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Leisure Centre Roof Fall Leads To Prosecution

Builders Prosecuted Over Severe Injuries To Worker


A pair of building contractors have been prosecuted after a construction worker plunged four metres from a roof and broke his back.

SJ Roberts Construction, which is based in Welshpool, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) along with Seaton Heating and Engineering Services Ltd of Tamworth over the case of a 36-year-old man, who was employed by the latter firm.

In this case, SJ Roberts was the main contractor and the roof work was contracted out to Seaton Heating and Engineering.

The injured party was working for the firm in the installation of a new air-handling unit and connected pipework for a new swimming pool at Southview Leisure Park in Skegness in March 2013 when the incident happened.

Lincoln Magistrates' Court heard that the man was working while perched on a narrow piece of plywood near the edge of the roof. Edge protection was in place for most of the roof, but a small section was left exposed and when the plywood gave way he fell into this gap.

As a result, he spent five days in hospital with fractured vertebrae and was unable to work for three months.

In the hearing, both firms admitted failing in their legal duties to make the working environment safer. SJ Roberts Construction admitted breaches of two aspects of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. It was fined £10,000 with costs of £645.60.

For its part, Seaton Heating and Engineering Services entered a guilty plea to a breach of the  Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was fined £7,000 with costs of £519.60.

Commenting on the verdict, HSE inspector Chris Copeman said: "SJ Roberts Construction Ltd and Seaton Heating and Engineering Services Ltd put workers' lives in danger by allowing them to work on a roof without suitable safety measures being in place. They failed to recognise their responsibility to ensure that work at height carried out under their control was done safely."

HSE guidance on compliance with the 2005 regulations states that "appropriate work equipment" must be used to mitigate any dangers.

Expert Opinion
This man suffered severe injuries as a result of contractors failing to adhere to the safety regulations set out by the HSE in a bid to keep workers safe. The incident is yet another example of the danger of working at height and highlights the risks construction workers are exposed to on a regular basis.

“For contractors to allow employees to work at height without suitable safety measures in place is not acceptable and on this occasion resulted in serious injuries.

“Sadly, through our day-to-day work we see that falls from height caused by safety failings are not uncommon. We hope this successful HSE prosecution will serve as a reminder to construction firms and contractors about the importance of following regulations to protect those who work at height and within the industry as a whole.”
Stephen Nye, Partner

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