Loft conversion company fined £30k after worker falls through roof window

7 February 2018

A loft conversion and refurbishment company has been fined after a worker fell through a roof window opening, suffering multiple fractures.

Luton Magistrates Court heard how the employee was carrying out work on a new build extension when his foot slipped and he fell through a roof light gap, landing on the concrete floor below. The worker suffered two broken ribs and a broken hip.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident, which occurred on the 26th July 2016, found that although the company had identified in risk assessments suitable measures to prevent falls, they had failed to implement these at the time of the injured persons fall.

The St. Albans company, which is not a BWF member, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and has been fined £30,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,008.35.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Samantha Wells said “Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities in this country and the risks associated with working at height are well-known.

“In this case, by putting in place measures to prevent falls through the skylight including boarding over the gaps, or providing a scaffold platform under the roof under construction, could have removed the danger of falling”.

BWF can provide guidance on managing safety, the important of risk assessments and method statements in safe systems of work. Section 16 of our BWF Guide to Health and Safety in the Woodworking Industry provides guidance on working at height. Look out for updated guidance this year.

Members can access comprehensive support from the BWF ‘Toolkit’, which includes our Health & Safety member helpline and publications on what the inspectors are looking for including HSE Field Operations Directorate Guidance for proactive inspections, and the Health and Safety essentials checklist. These two Fee For Intervention guidance briefing notes are available through the website by logging in as a BWF member.

There is also free-to-members guidance on Health & Safety in the woodworking industry and documents such as Machine Safety Cards, sample inspection forms, and sample risk assessments.

Additionally you may wish to undertake a Health & Safety Audit that will not only suggest where your health and safety needs to be improved, but also how to achieve it. The BWF has negotiated exclusive rates with experienced Health & Safety advisors for a simple value for money package.

Last but not least, pledge your support to the BWF Health & Safety Hero Campaign, where we have put together some excellent resources to help your business tackle problem areas such as wood dust, machine training, noise, manual and handling. All of which may help in avoiding potential costs of FFI and perhaps more importantly ensure the health and welfare of all employed in your joinery business!

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