Farmer in court for roof fall failings

One of the partners from a farm has been fined as a result of safety failings after a worker was seriously injured in a three metre fall through the fragile roof which was over a cowshed.

The roof fall victim broke five vertebrae and two ribs and cracked his left leg socket in the incident on 15th September last year. As a result of these injuries he has now been left with limited mobility and has been unable to work since.

The partner was prosecuted after and investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) established that more could and should have been done to prevent this from ever happening.

The victim was working on the cowshed roof repairing a leak to an internal gutter with a fellow worker watching on.

Whilst on top of the building he noticed a crack on one of the sheets that also required attention. However, as he rested his foot on an adjacent sheet to take a proper look it snapped, causing him to lose his balance. He fell forwards through the cracked sheet and crashed onto the concrete floor below.

The court found that the worker was ultimately responsible for how work at the farm was planned and managed and in this case their was no agreed method of working in place. Neither of the workers had work safely at height training.

The court was also told that during previous roof work at the farm a cage fashioned from an old chemical container was incorrectly fitted to a telehandler to provide an elevated work platform.

Alfred Rupert John Cyster, of Gate Court Farm, Station Road, Northiam, was fined a total of £12,000 and ordered to pay a further £881 in costs after pleading guilty to three separate breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Russell Beckett commented:

“Stuart’s painful injuries could easily have been avoided had the roof repairs been better planned and managed. The onus was on Rupert Cyster to ensure that happened, but he simply left the workers to it – not out of wilful ignorance, but it was a clear failing on his part nonetheless.

“Falls through fragile roofs account for almost a quarter of all work at height deaths, so it is absolutely vital that any such work is fully considered and that the correct equipment and working methods are used at all times.

“On this occasion the repairs should have been completed from underneath, avoiding the need to access the roof in the first place.”

Regulation 4(1)(a) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: “Every employer shall ensure that work at height is (a) properly planned”

Regulation 4(1)(b) states: “Every employer shall ensure that work at height is (b) appropriately supervised.”

Regulation 4(1)(c) states: “Every employer shall ensure that work at height is (c) carried out in a manner which is so far as is reasonably practicable safe.”

Source: HSE