A SUNDERLAND construction firm has been fined after a worker was seriously injured when he fell three metres through a fragile roof light.
The 29-year-old, from Ryhope, was working for Brims Construction Ltd and was carrying out the refurbishment of Pearl Assurance House, in Newcastle, when the accident happened last September.
He broke his back in two places and suffered severe bruising, although he is expected to make a full recovery.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) took the firm to court for safety failings.
Newcastle Magistrates’ Court heard the worker was on the second-floor roof of the building and frequently had to pass close to two fragile plastic roof lights.
At one point, he placed an item on one of the roof lights but it broke, and he fell through, landing on the concrete floor below.
The HSE investigation found there were no barriers or any other safety measures in place to prevent a fall through the roof lights, despite the fact a consultant had recommended they were required.
The only precaution was a paper notice attached to the roof lights warning they were fragile, but these had disappeared by the time the accident happened.
The court was told Brims Construction Ltd had failed to provide suitable and sufficient measures to prevent the fall.
The company later put up scaffolding fencing at each roof light without impeding any other work.
Brims Construction Ltd, of Austin Boulevard, Quay West Business Park, Sunderland, was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £690 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 9(2)(a) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
Speaking after the case, HSE Inspector Martin Smith said: “This incident could easily have been prevented if Brims Construction Ltd had ensured that the fragile roof lights were either covered or effectively fenced off – something they did very easily after the incident happened.
“Instead, a worker suffered a serious fall that could have cost him his life and he was lucky to escape with what were still serious injuries.
“The significant dangers of death and serious injury associated with falls from height during construction work are well-known in the industry and working near fragile roof lights without appropriate safety measures in place is simply not acceptable.”
A spokesman for Brims Construction said: “The company deeply regrets the occurrence of this accident. The injured party has made a full recovery from his injuries and has returned to work and continues to work for the company.
“The company takes health and safety seriously, but had not appreciated the fragility of the rooflights and that the precautions in place were not sufficient.
“The company has remedied these deficiencies in its procedures and pleaded guilty to breaching Health and Safety legislation.”