A repair and maintenance company has been fined over health and safety failings after a worker fell from a roof, suffering serious injuries which left his life “irrevocably changed”.
Thomas Marshall suffered a severe traumatic brain injury along with vertebrae fractures and a broken collar bone in the incident in Shetland in October 2018, and continues to suffer ongoing effects due to the head injury.
Shetland-based G&A Leask Limited pleaded guilty to contraventions of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday and was fined £9,000, the Crown Office said.
Prosecutors said that on the afternoon of October 30, 2018, Mr Marshall, then aged 22, and a colleague were sent to repair roof tiles on a property in Seafield, Lerwick.
At about 4.15pm, the colleague went to collect more tiles while Mr Marshall continued to replace damaged slates on the sloped roof which was just over four metres high.
Around ten minutes later, a passer-by heard a shout and saw Mr Marshall falling sideways off the unprotected edge of the roof.
Paramedics were at the scene shortly afterwards and, suspecting brain damage, they stabilised him before taking him to Gilbert Bain Hospital.
Mr Marshall recently settled a civil action in relation to the incident.
The Crown Office said that since the incident, the company has stated that work is now more closely supervised, and it has altered job sheets to include specific risks and instructions which employees must acknowledge as being understood.
Speaking after the sentencing, Debbie Carroll, who leads on health and safety investigations for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, said: ”It is well known that falls from height are one of the single greatest causes of death and serious injury to workers within the construction industry.
“This accident could have been avoided if G&A Leask Limited had put in place the appropriate planning, supervision and protective measures.
“This incident could easily have proved fatal and has irrevocably changed Thomas Marshall’s life.
“Hopefully this prosecution will remind other employers that failure to fulfil their obligations can have severe and potentially tragic consequences and that they will be held to account for their failings.”
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the incident found the company had well trained and well equipped employees, but in this instance it had failed in its duty to clarify with employees that using scaffolding was a direction rather than a suggestion.
HSE stated that work on sloping roofs is not low risk, and the risk of falling from an unprotected roof edge is such that a scaffold or other roof edge protection would be a reasonably practicable precaution in the circumstances.