A self-employed roofer has not returned to work since he suffered serious back injuries falling through a roof, Derby Magistrates Court was told on 3 August 2011.

Michael Hawkins, 23, was on the site at Cotes Park Lane, Somercotes, Derbyshire for the first time when the accident happened. He fell through a fragile roof at the site and has since had to have six operations including a large skin graft to his back. The self-employed roofer was subcontracted to work at the site by Mechanical Solutions Ltd.

Company failed to identify how fragile roof was

Investigating the incident, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the roof was considerably more fragile in some areas than others. This had not been identified by the mechanical engineering company carrying out the work, nor had any arrangements for harnesses for the unprotected edges been made, a stipulation which had been identified in their own method statement. In addition other guard rails and protective coverings which should have been present were found to be missing. The HSE therefore concluded that they had failed to ensure the work was properly planned, appropriately supervised or carried out in a safe manner.

Breach of Work at Height Regulations

At the hearing on 3 August 2011, the company was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs after pleading guilty to breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Speaking after the case Mr Hawkins said: “I have suffered serious injuries, numerous surgical procedures and permanent scarring as a direct result of the company’s failure to ensure that the task could be carried out safely. I have been unable to work since and my future job prospects are limited as I am unable to return to my job as a roofer. The effects of the fall will be with me for the rest of my life.”

Allison Fitchett, a solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors’ Serious Injuries Team said: “The way this job was managed was clearly inadequate. Mr Hawkins paid the price for the company's cavalier approach”.

Source: http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2011/coi-em-21811.htm