Two companies have been fined for safety failings after a worker suffered life-changing injuries when he plunged ten metres through a perspex rooflight onto a concrete floor at a Hertfordshire farm.
Constantin-Iulian Pascu, was working for NMH Property Services Ltd, of Harwich, who were installing solar panels at Bayford Hall Farm with Ipswich-based SEH Commercial Ltd.
Mr Pascu and an electrician from NMH Ltd, were at the farm to carry out the final connection and commissioning of the system.
Both workers climbed up on the scaffolding to carry out checks roof level. However Mr Pascu then climbed onto the roof where he fell through a rooflight to the floor below.
Mr Pascu, 25, suffered a fractured spine, broken pelvis and lacerations. He needed plates and screws fitted to both spine and pelvis and was unable to walk unaided for four months. He was off work for six months.
The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted both SEH Commercial Ltd and NMH Property Services Ltd at Hertford Magistrates’ Court.
The court heard that SEH had erected scaffolding and safety netting under the work area. A standard rail system was fitted over the roof on which the solar panels were mounted.
An NMH electrician carrying out the electrical installation, noted a fault with the panel feed so had climbed the scaffold to check the roof level installation and had inadvertently smashed a perspex rooflight at the other end of the building.
HSE found that the site manager for SEH was present at the time and looked at the damage but he did not notice that the safety nets had been removed.
The matter was not raised immediately through the company near miss procedure. Mr Pascu’s fall through a separate perspex rooflight happened the following day.
SEH Commercial Ltd of Olympus Close, Ipswich, was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £4,437 in costs after pleading guilty to failing to plan, manage and monitor the installation of solar panels on a fragile roof safely under Regulation 13(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.
NMH Property Services Ltd of Orchard Close, Harwich, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £2,219 in costs after admitting breaching Regulation 9(2)(b) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Tony Mitchell said: “Mr Pascu has suffered severe injuries but is fortunate to have escaped with his life.
“Falls from height are still the biggest killer in the construction industry and this case demonstrates the reality of what can happen when adequate arrangements are not in place to manage the significant risks of working at height.
“Fragile roofs are inherently dangerous. If the near miss the previous day had been properly followed up, then this incident could have been prevented. And had the nets remained in place then the consequences of a fall would have probably been much less severe.”