Worker suffers back injuries in roof fall

A Scottish sawmilling company has been fined £10,000 after an employee suffered a serious back injury in a fall through a fragile roof light.

Tony Heron, aged 56 at the time of the accident, was installing tin sheets on the roof of a lean-to shed at Penkiln Sawmill Company’s premises in Wigtown when he fell eight feet to the ground, Stranraer Sheriff Court was told.

Serious injury

The incident occurred in February last year and left Mr Heron with multiple fractures to his vertebrae and ribs and a cut to his head.

Mr Heron’s treatment required him to wear a back brace for up to 24 hours a day for several weeks and take painkiller medication. He has not been able to return to work and continues to suffer impaired mobility in his spine.

When the incident occurred, Mr Heron was on the roof of an old joiner’s shed which adjoined the lean-to shed. A pile of tin sheets had been lifted on to the old joiner’s shed, which required Mr Heron to pick up a sheet, walk long the shed roof to fix it on to the lean-to roof, and then return to collect another sheet.

PVC roof lights were also fitted in the shed roof and during one of his trips, Mr Heron fell from a height and injured himself.

HSE findings

The company, which had employed Mr Heron for 28 years, had not carried out a risk assessment for the task and had also not put any control measures in place to minimise the risk of a fall, an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found.

The HSE said if control measures had been put in place, such as platforms, coverings and guard rails to support the area around the fragile roof lights or around the open edges of the roof, the fall could have been prevented or at least minimised the risk.

Dumfries-based Penkiln Sawmill Company, which was also found to have failed to provide adequate instruction, training and supervision for the task, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Falls from height

Injuries sustained in a fall from height that was not your fault could mean you are entitled to compensation.

Accident Advice Helpline could assist you in your claim. For easy-to-understand information, visit our website and fill out the 30-second claim form to see how much you could be entitled to. The advice is free and we work on a ‘no win, no fee’* basis. Call us free on 0800 689 0500 or 0333 500 0993 from a mobile phone for free, no obligation advice about making a claim.

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