Joiner fell six metres through roof at work

A joiner escaped serious injury after falling six metres through a roof he was working on, a court has learned.

The incident left the company responsible for his safety with a £5,000 fine because it failed to follow industry rules governing working at height, leaving open the possibility of an accident claim.

The self-employed joiner, a 46-year-old man from Bradford, was removing ventilation turrets from the roof of a warehouse in Leeds in November 2010.

He was reaching for slates to cover up a hole when he fell through a fragile light on the roof. The joiner landed on the floor six metres below and sustained only a broken elbow and bruising. His injuries may lead to him making a construction accident claim.

Accident claim possible

The company which hired him to do the work, MD Construction (Bradford) Ltd, was prosecuted after inspectors found it had neglected the joiner’s safety.

Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard that MD Construction did identify the fragile roof lights and provided the warehouse company, Johnsons Apparelmaster, with a risk assessment for the work to remove the five turrets.

But the building company failed to ensure the safety of the joiner, a potential key factor in any injury claim.

Finding MD Construction guilty of breaking the Work at Height Regulations 2005, magistrates ordered the firm to pay the £5,000 fine as well as £15,000 in prosecution costs.

Common occurrence

Martin Hutton, an inspector with the Health and Safety Executive, said after the court case: “Falls through fragile materials during roof works are an all-too common occurrence and the risks are well known in the construction-related industries.

“While the injuries in this case were not severe, it is only by sheer good fortune that no one was killed.

“A few simple precautions by MD Construction Ltd could have prevented this incident from happening in the first place.

“Where work near fragile roof materials is necessary, boards or barriers of sufficient strength should be used to cover the area and prevent people or materials falling through.

“Work at height carries significant risk.”

He added, “This prosecution should serve as a reminder of the essential need to properly plan, supervise and carry out these tasks safely.”

Such falls killed 40 workers in 2011-12 and seriously injured around 3,400 more, the latest data shows.

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