Roofing firm fined after worker fall

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A ST Helens-based business has been fined for safety failings after a worker was severely injured falling through a school roof.

W. Swindells and Soon (Roofing) was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after the 51-year-old employee narrowly avoided paralysis and suffered fractures to his spine, breastbone and ribs.

Leyland Magistrates’ Court heard the firm had been hired to replace the roof of St Mary’s Primary School in Chorley but had failed to put adequate measures in place to prevent workers falling through skylights.

The court was told the worker stepped on to a piece of unsupported felt which was covering a skylight hole and fell three metres to the floor below, striking a partition wall as he fell.

He spent two months in hospital and will never be able to return to work due to the extent of his injuries, with his wife also having to give up work to care for him.

The court heard his injuries could have been avoided if the company had planned the work properly and arranged for the skylight holes to be covered with pieces of plywood.

W Swindells, based on Hill School Road, was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £3,153 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching the regulations covering working at height.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Chris Hatton said: “The worker could easily have been killed when he fell through the roof and will be affected by his injuries for the rest of his life.

“If the company had taken the simple measure of fitting pieces of plywood over the holes then his injuries could have been avoided, but it failed to properly plan the work and anticipate the dangers.

“Sadly these types of incidents are all too common in the construction industry and firms need to do more to look after the safety of people working at height.”