A 32-year-old solar panel installer was left unable to work for nearly three years, after suffering a serious back injury when he fell through a fragile roof light above a private home’s swimming pool, a court heard.
The man’s employer, P V Solar UK, was fined £153,000 and ordered to pay costs of £29,480 during a sentencing hearing at Canterbury Crown Court.
At an earlier hearing the Glasgow-based firm admitted three separate breaches of the Work at Height Regulations.
The injured worker, of Ashford, Kent, had been part of a three-man team replacing faulty solar panels on an outbuilding’s roof in Hawkinge, Kent, when the accident at work happened in April 2013.
The man fell while walking across the roof with a solar panel. Although his fall was partially cushioned by the water he was injured after hitting the side and floor around the pool.
The man sustained a fractured vertebra and shin and was unable to return to work until January 2016 and only then in a part-time role.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation had established that although the firm provided a scaffold tower, safety harness and ladder none of the three workers had been given any formal training or instructions on how to use the equipment.
Workers had also been put at risk by the safety equipment provided when the panels were first installed in April 2011, HSE investigators found.
‘Worker could have been killed’
The court heard how the firm was fully aware of the need to implement measures to prevent falls, having been served a Prohibition Notice to stop unsafe work on a fragile roof in Bristol in May 2011.
HSE inspector Melvyn Stancliffe said the man could have been killed in the fall. He said better equipment, training and supervision should have been provided, adding that the man and his colleagues had effectively been left to their own devices.
Source: Health and Safety Executive
Date Published: April 15, 2016
Author: Jonathan Brown