A 20 year old man from Warrington was working for a solar panel installation firm when he fell 6 metres through a fragile roof light of a barn in Northamptonshire and broke his back.
The young man had been working for Alternative Energy Installation Ltd installing solar panels to the roof of a barn when the accident happened. If it had not been for the soft floor materials in the barn for horse training then this young man could have been killed. Falls from heights at work are the third highest cause of fatal injury in the workplace.
This accident has had a dramatic effect on his young man’s life, not only physically but mentally as well as he has suffered from depression since the accident and he has had to change his whole way of life including his social life. His back injury was so bad he was hospitalised for four weeks and has been unable to return to work and he will most likely have to retrain.
His employer’s alternative Energy Installations (which has since gone into liquidation) and their technical director Ian Black, knew the roof lights were fragile but did nothing to ensure the safety of their workers.
An investigation was carried out by the Health and Safety Executive and a Prohibition Notice was served ordering urgent safety measures be put in place before work would be allowed to continue.
The company then installed crawling boards and safety netting and had they done this initially then this terrible accident could have been prevented from happening.
At Northampton Crown Court Alternative Energy Installations Ltd, registered with Hodgson Accountants of Park Road, Timperley, Cheshire, was prosecuted for breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, they were found guilty and fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £27,000 in costs.
Ian Black, of Henallan Street, Denbigh, Wales, was prosecuted for failing to control the risk of falling through fragile roof materials. He pleaded guilty and was fined £7,300 and ordered to pay £6,700 in costs at an earlier magistrates court appearance.
The Health and Safety Executive Inspector Peter Snelgrove gave this statement after the hearing:
“This fall could have been fatal and was entirely and easily preventable. As it is, the incident has dramatically affected a young man, starting out in life, and he has not worked again since. He has been affected personally, emotionally and physically and has had to change his whole way of life. He will more than likely need to retrain and his loss of self-confidence has had a drastic effect on his social life.
“The director was aware that the roof lights were fragile, but failed to put any measures in place to prevent falls, despite another worker asking if they would be wearing safety harnesses, at which Mr Black laughed.
“The fact that they were able to overcome the problem so simply afterwards, by using crawling boards and safety netting, shows how easy it was to prevent the incident.
“Alternative Energy Installations Limited should have ensured that the work at height was properly planned and that workers had the right protective equipment and had been trained in its use.”