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14th October 2011

Father and son car dealers fined over skylight fall

An investigation into an incident in which an employee of a Rotherham car dealership fell through a skylight revealed that no precautions had been taken to reduce the risk of a fall.

On 11 June last year, a valet and driver employed by the car sales company was attempting to seal leaks on the workshop roof with felt and bitumen. He had accessed the roof through one of the office windows on the first floor of the premises, but as he was working, he caught his foot on a roof bolt and tripped, resulting in a fall of approximately 3.5 metres through a skylight. He landed on the workshop floor below and sustained three fractures to his back and a fracture to his left elbow.

An investigation by an environmental health officer for Rotherham Borough Council, found that the company had failed to carry out a risk assessment of the dangers associated with accessing and working on the workshop roof. Consequently, no precautions were taken to prevent falls through the fragile roof surface, through the skylights, or from the edge of the roof.

Two Improvement Notices were served, instructing the company to assess the risk to employees and non-employees of falling a distance liable to cause personal injury, and to provide warning notices at the approach to fragile surfaces through which a person may fall. The company complied with both notices.

A charge was laid against father and son, under section 2(1) of the HSWA 1974 for failing to ensure the safety of their employees. The council brought a further charge under reg.3(1)(a) of the MHSWR 1999 for failing to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of their employees while they were carrying out roofwork. Both men admitted the breaches.

Appearing at Rotherham Magistrates’ Court on 22 September, the father and son were each fined £2000 and each ordered to pay costs of £3615.

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