Roofer fined following rooflight fall

A roofing contractor employed by Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council has been prosecuted by the HSE for not having safety measures in place to prevent falls from height after an employee fell through a fragile rooflight.

The worker was coating roofing bolts on an asbestos cement roof in order to seal leaks when he misplaced his footing whilst moving a board, and stepped onto a rooflight.  He fell approximately 4m through the fragile rooflight onto the concrete floor below, breaking several ribs and injuring his spine.

The subsequent HSE investigation found that inadequate safety precautions were in place during the roof work and as a result the company was fined £40,000 plus costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 9 (2) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Following the hearing the HSE inspector commented: “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. In this case suitable measures such as sufficient platforms, handrails and netting should have been provided to ensure the health and safety of people working at height on the roof.”

Falls through fragile roofs account for around a fifth of all fatal fall from height accidents in the construction industry. Most at risk as those carrying out short term maintenance and cleaning work, particularly on factory, warehouse and farm roofs which tend to feature roof lights and skylights. The HSE estimates that on average 7 people are killed each year after falling through a fragile roof or fragile roof light. Many others suffer permanent disabling injury.

Products such as our Board-Walk open mesh walkway have been designed specifically to allow maintenance of roof lights and skylights to be carried out safely.  Board-Walk is lightweight and easily portable, and spreads the load on support battens making it suitable for fragile roofs. The mesh walkway allows for full visibility and all-weather use and can include single or double handrails for enhanced safety.

If you’re planning to carry out maintenance work on fragile roofs or roof lights, call us on Tel: 01767 691812 to discuss how to ensure the work can be carried out safely.