A roofing firm has been fined £8,600 after one of its employees fell five metres through a church roof in London while it was being repaired.
Father-of-three Allen Smith, 58, of Southampton, sustained a collapsed lung, smashed pelvis and head injuries in the fall at Anerley Methodist Church in South East London on 25th October 2011.
Mr Smith was in hospital for two months, has had a subsequent operation on his lungs, will need a hip replacement and he is unlikely to ever work again.
On 7th May, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Hampshire-based Nationwide Roofing and Cladding Ltd. for serious safety failings at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
The court was told Mr Smith was part of a four-strong team, including the firm’s director, which was replacing the church roof owing to a series of leaks.
Mr Smith was standing on a lightweight staging board while grinding off bolts, working from the roof ridge down toward the gutter and sliding the asbestos cement sheets down to labourers to lift onto a forklift truck.
As the work went on, one of the labourers heard a loud bang and turned to see Mr Smith had fallen through the roof opening to the hall floor below. A length of the staging board was also on the floor.
HSE told the court it served an enforcement notice on Nationwide Roofing and Cladding immediately after the incident preventing any further work until suitable safety measures were in place to prevent falls.
Its investigation showed the firm could have included scaffolding around the elevations and underneath the working area to protect workers, and a safe working platform able to support the weight of employees fitted with guard rails.
After the case, HSE Inspector Wendy Garnett said: “Mr Smith suffered life-threatening injuries in this fall and will have to live with the disabling consequences.
“However, his fall could have been avoided had Nationwide Roofing followed standard industry practice.”
Nationwide Roofing and Cladding Ltd of Lake Farm House, Allington Lane, Fair Oak, Eastleigh, Hampshire, was fined £8,600 and also ordered to pay £11,280 in costs after admitting a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
“Nationwide neglected to put in place sufficient protective measures to guard against falls,” added Miss Garnett.
“This is not acceptable when you consider the devastating effects that a fall has on the lives of workers and their families. Firms of all sizes need to be aware of their duties to identify the risks of working at height and to take action to manage those risks.”