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Fined when employee falls from height

16 November 2007

HSE warns employers to use safe systems at work when working at height after worker breaks arm

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned employers to ensure they have safe systems of work in place when working at height. The warning follows HSE's prosecution of a Merseyside company after an employee fell eight metres through a roof and broke his arm. Animal feed manufacturer B Tickle and Sons Ltd of Woodend Avenue, Speke were fined £2,500 and ordered to pay costs of £1,828 at Liverpool Magistrates Court yesterday after pleading guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

On 11 June 2006, John Dyer went onto the roof of the company's building with a colleague to repair a gutter. They accessed the roof via a fire escape, climbing through the handrail onto the fragile roof where Mr Dyer fell through a skylight.

HSE Inspector Martin Paren said: "This was an avoidable incident and the consequences could have been far worse. On average one person dies every month at work after falling through a fragile roof or skylight and many others sufferer permanent disabling injury. Contractors and building owners or occupiers have a joint legal responsibility to ensure that construction, repair or cleaning is planned properly and carried out safely.
If your company does not have the specialist knowledge for this type of work, it should not be attempted. Repairing a fragile roof is potentially high risk. Before work starts, ensure that a competent person assesses the roof using a safe system of work. All those carrying out the repair work must be suitable trained and supervised and follow a method of work based on a risk assessment."

NB: The Health and safety at Work etc Act 1974 section 2(1) says: "It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees."

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