Fragile Roof Fall Lands Sole Trader in Court

cement roof - fragile roof fall

A WORKER SUFFERED serious injuries after falling through the fragile roof light of a grain store in 2019. The worker’s employer, William Henry Swanson, trading as LTS Construction has been fined and has now ceased trading.

Wick Sheriff Court heard that on 25 September 2019, an employee of William Swanson was working on a grain store roof to remove and replace damaged cement roof sheets and fragile roof lights.

The worker stood on a moss-covered roof light which gave way beneath his weight. He fell approximately 4.5m onto the concrete floor below and sustained injuries to his head, ribs, pelvis and wrist. He now suffers from short term memory loss and anxiety and has not worked since.

Fall Prevention Measures

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that William Swanson did not have suitable measures in place to access the roof or to prevent the risk of falling from the edge of the roof and falling through roof lights.

HSE said Swanson should have considered the work at height hierarchy of control:

  • the use of mobile elevated work platforms (if practicable) to avoid working on a roof containing fragile materials, or
  • safe access to roof level, and
  • roof edge protection to have prevented falls from the eaves and gable wall sections of the roof, and
  • safety nets to have reduced fall risks when removing and replacing roof sheets, and
  • the use of staging or crawling boards to spread the weight of persons who worked on areas of the roof that were fragile.

None of those measures were in place at the time of the accident.

William Henry Swanson of Watten, Wick, Caithness KW1 5UP pleaded guilty to breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005, Regulation 4(1)(a) and (c) and the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, Section 33(1)(c). He was fined £2,000.

Fragile Roof Fall

HSE inspector, Liz Hunter said: “Those in control of working at height have a responsibility to implement safe work methods and to lead by example.

“They should communicate the work method clearly with the workers to demonstrate how fall risks will be prevented or reduced when working on or near fragile roof lights.

I have investigated numerous fatal and serious accidents caused by falls through fragile roof materials during construction and maintenance activities on farm buildings.

“Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities in this country. I have investigated numerous fatal and serious accidents caused by falls through fragile roof materials during construction and maintenance activities on farm buildings.

“The life changing injuries sustained by Mr Swanson’s employee were preventable had a combination of safe access, roof edge protection, staging and safety nets been used by trained personnel.”

>>Read more about roof falls in the news

Advertisement