Mellor man fell through roof... firm was at fault

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A builders’ merchant has been sentenced after a workman from Mellor fell through the roof of its Blackburn warehouse.

The 44-year-old worker, who has asked not to be named, was contracted by R&J (Builders Hardware) Ltd to carry out repairs to the roof, but the company failed to make sure that he was competent to carry out the work safely.

The firm was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after the worker fell through a roof light at their premises on the Whitebirk Industrial Estate, Croft Head Road, on September 28th, 2010.

Preston Crown Court was told that he fell approximately six metres (about 20 feet) to the warehouse floor below and sustained two broken wrists, a broken back and an injury in his ankle. He had to have a metal plate inserted in his back and the injuries to his wrists are likely to affect him for the rest of his life.

The HSE investigation found the company failed to check that the contractor they employed was competent to carry out the work on their roof and allowed him to walk across the fragile roof without safety measures in place.

R&J (Builders Hardware) Ltd was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay costs of £20,000 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Stuart Kitchingman said: “This incident resulted in a worker sustaining injuries that will affect him for the rest of his life because R&J failed to ensure that he was competent to carry out the work safely.

“This case should act as a warning to companies that they can’t just hire a contractor to do a job without checking that they are competent. Firms need to make sure their contractors are aware of fragile roofs and ensure they take adequate measures to prevent falls from or through them. Companies should make sure that they find out how contractors intend to carry out work on their roofs and take specialist advice if they’re not sure whether the proposed method of work is safe.”

Information on preventing falls is available at www.hse.gov.uk/falls.