Kent Firm Fined After Worker Falls Through Fragile Garage Roof
A 39-year-old Bulgarian man suffered serious brain injuries while working on a garage roof in Kent.
He fell three metres to the floor below, leaving him with a fractured shoulder, damaged peripheral vision and partially deaf.
The unnamed man had been employed by Platinum Property Maintenance to complete repair work at a compound in Bexley in January 2012.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the worker had tumbled through a fragile part of the roof as he attempted to clear away moss and debris.
He was taken to hospital, where he contracted MRSA and he has not yet been able to return to work.
Despite the severity of his injuries, HSE inspector Ian Shearring said the situation could have been much worse.
"The worker in this case suffered life-changing injuries, but it could easily have resulted in death," he commented.
According to the health and safety regulator, the work had not been adequately planned and no protective equipment - such as harnesses - had been given to the man and his colleague.
Additionally, the company had failed to carry out a risk assessment and had not provided sufficient supervision.
The firm was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £6,000 in costs following a hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court. Company bosses pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Mr Shearring said the fall could have been prevented had the business planned the work more carefully.
"Work at height is inherently fraught with risk, and falls remain the single biggest cause of deaths and serious injury in the construction industry," he added.
Falls from height are also one of the leading causes of occupational fatalities across all sectors in the UK, with this type of accident accounting for 40 deaths and 3,400 serious injuries throughout the country in 2011-12.
The government introduced the Work at Height Regulations 2005 in order to ensure employers provide adequate safeguards to staff who have no alternative but to work off the ground.