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Fragile Roof Fall During Solar Installation

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A Cornish clean energy company has been fined after a worker fell through a fragile roof while installing solar panels

The Magistrates’ Court heard that senior roofer working for the company was installing solar panels at the garden centre when he went to traverse the roof.  Unfortunately the cement fibre sheeting he was walking on gave way and he fell around fifteen feet and suffered multiple injuries including several fractured vertebrae.

Risks Taken

The HSE's investigation into the incident which occurred last August, found that the work was not properly planned or appropriately supervised.  The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations which requires that:

Every employer shall ensure that work at height is—

(a)properly planned;

(b)appropriately supervised; and

(c)carried out in a manner which is so far as is reasonably practicable safe,

and that its planning includes the selection of work equipment in accordance with regulation 7.

The company was subsequently fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs.

The HSE inspector commented after the hearing that: “Working on fragile surfaces is a particularly high risk activity in which many serious accidents occur. Duty holders should do everything possible to protect their workers from the risk of a fall.”

It is estimated that there are on average 8 fatalities a year as a result of falls through fragile materials.  We have worked with the Solar Industry for a number of years and have developed a range of access platforms and products which are designed to ensure solar installations can be carried out safely.  These include our Solar Access Platform and System which allow safe access up to roof level as well as a range of fragile roof access equipment such as the Roof Walk lightweight aluminium walkway system.  All products are quick and easy to assemble and provide a cost effective alternative to hiring in scaffolding.

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