An Orkney cheese company been fined £8000 after pleading guilty to breaching the Work at Height Regulations after one of its employees was seriously injured falling through a fragile roof.
During the hearing, the Sheriff Court was told that the company’s general manager asked the employee to remove a dead mouse from an unboarded loft area. The employee crawled along the exposed ceiling joists and then put his foot on a fragile roof board which had been left behind when the factor was built. The board gave way, and the employee fell some 2.5m to the reception below.
An HSE investigation found that the company normally employed an external contractor to deal with vermin, however, on this occasion it asked an employee to deal with the dead mouse, but failed to put in place control measures to protect the employee as he crossed the unfloored loft.
A Potential Solution
This incident could quite easily have been avoided had the company carried out a proper risk assessment of the task as this would have identified the need for suitable protection such as our Joist Safety Matting. This would have provided the worker with safe and strong temporary protection as he moved along the loft.
Following the hearing, the HSE inspector stated that: “Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work related fatalities in this country and the risks associated with working at height are well known. Working on or near fragile surfaces should be properly assessed and managed. This case highlights the importance for companies to assess and control risks created by non-routine tasks.”
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