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Safety failings led to fractured skull for new worker

22 October 2013

A Driffield roofing company has appeared in court for safety failings after a young worker suffered a fractured skull just weeks after being hired.

The worker, who does not wish to be named, was 20 years old and had started his job with Dodds Roofing Services Ltd barely a month before the incident on 29 September 2011.

He was one of four employees installing 25 solar panels on the roof of a farm in Tibthorpe, East Yorkshire, when he fell through a rooflight and hit the concrete floor three metres below. He suffered a fractured skull and temporary partial hearing loss, but has since made a good recovery and returned to work.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated and today (21 Oct) prosecuted Dodds Roofing Services Ltd at Bridlington Magistrates’ Court.

The court was told that the firm had provided a scaffold and crawling boards on the outside of the farm building, but had failed to act to adequately prevent a fall or to provide safety measures internally, such as nets or a scaffold, to mitigate the effects of a fall.

Dodds Roofing Services Ltd, of The Renewable Energy Centre, Bainton, Driffield, East Yorkshire, was fined £9,000 and ordered to pay £10,000 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Alan Sheldon said:

"This young man could very easily have sustained even worse injuries. Falls from height are a well-recognised hazard in the construction industry and falls through fragile rooflights are an all-too-common occurrence, and becoming more so with the advent of solar panels.

"This was an incident that could have been prevented had Dodds Roofing Services put recognised safety measures in place that were suitable and sufficient to protect their workers from the risks they faced. This could have included work equipment to prevent the fall and/or providing nets or a scaffold within the building in order to mitigate the effects of a fall.”

The latest HSE statistics show that 40 workers were killed and more than 3,400 were seriously injured in falls from height in 2011/12. Further information on safe working at height can be found online at www.hse.gov.uk/falls