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Companies fined £118,000 after worker left blind in one eye by roof fall

 A Midlands manufacturer that owned a warehouse and the contractor it hired to carry out repairs to pipework on it have been fined respectively £100,000 and £18,000 after a worker slipped and fell from height, resulting in head injuries and partial vision loss. 

 

 

Dudley Magistrates’ Court heard that both manufacturer James Durrans and Sons, and roofing contractor Kingswinford Engineering, each assumed that the other had put in place a system to address the risk of working at height.

James Durrans and Sons, which manufactures carbon and graphite products for other process industries, had appointed Kingswinford Engineering to repair a section of pipework on the roof of the warehouse at its site in Bilston, West Midlands.

On 12 April 2016, Kingswinford workers accessed the roof using a forklift truck and a “man cage”, a working platform that the HSE says can be used “in exceptional circumstances” to work at height.

But the platform fell short of the level of the roof by about 90 cm, creating a gap which the workers had to climb across. Once they were on the roof, it was slippery and wet, with no barrier in place to prevent a fall.

 

Both contractors and those engaging them must assess the risks of the site and the specific work to ensure it can be done safely
 

HSE inspector Edward Fryer 

 

Employee Jon Charles was at work on the roof when he slipped, falling to the ground. According to the Birmingham Mail, his head injuries left him with permanent sight loss in one eye and blurred vision in the other.

The HSE found that neither the client nor its contractor had undertaken a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, and there were several failings in the way the work and access to the roof was planned, managed and monitored.

Neither company had agreed a safe system of work for repairing the pipework, each assuming that the other had put systems in place to protect workers from the risks of working at height.

James Durrans and Sons of Anchor Road, Bilston pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act, resulting in a £100,000 fine and a bill for prosecution costs of £20,000.

Kingswinford Engineering of Shaw Road, Dudley pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. It was fined £18,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9,000.

Speaking after sentencing, HSE inspector Edward Fryer said: “This incident highlights the need for contractors to be managed properly.

“Both the contractors and those engaging them must assess the risks of the site and the specific work to ensure it can be done safely.

“In this case, no risk assessment was carried out and arrangements made to access the roof put workers at significant risk of falling from height.”

In the year to 31 December 2018 James Durrans and Sons made a profit before tax of £7.16m on turnover of £79.75m, according to accounts filed with Companies House.

According to the company’s website, James Durrans and Sons supplies specialist carbon-based products, including graphite, refractory coatings and lubricants.

From: https://www.healthandsafetyatwork.com/news-and-prosecution/companies-fined-118-000-after-worker-left-blind-in-one-eye-by-roof-fall

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