The 46 year-old self-employed joiner from Bradford, who asked to remain anonymous, was hired by MD Construction (Bradford) Ltd to remove ventilation turrets from a warehouse roof at Johnsons Apparelmaster in Leeds.
He was sitting astride the ridge of the roof and reaching for slates to cover an opening left by one of the turrets when his knee went through a nearby rooflight. He fell six metres to the factory floor below, but managed to escape with just a broken elbow and bruising.
The incident, on 22 November 2010, was investigated by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), which subsequently prosecuted.
Leeds Magistrates' Court heard that the firm had been contracted by Johnsons to remove five roof turrets to prevent water getting in to its warehouse in Stoney Rock Lane, Harehills.
MD Construction hired the joiner to do the job and also supplied a labourer. The company identified there were potentially fragile rooflights where the work would be taking place and had provided Johnsons with a risk assessment for the work. However, the court was told by HSE that no safety measures had been put in place by the company to protect workers against falls through the rooflights.
On Friday (4 October) MD Construction (Bradford) Ltd was fined £5,000 with £15,000 towards costs after being found guilty of a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
After the hearing HSE inspector Martin Hutton said: "Falls through fragile materials during roof works are an all too common occurrence and the risks are well known in the construction-related industries. While the injuries in this case were not severe, it is only by sheer good fortune that no one was killed.
"A few simple precautions by MD Construction Ltd could have prevented this incident from happening in the first place. Where work near fragile roof materials is necessary, boards or barriers of sufficient strength should be used to cover the area and prevent people or materials falling through.
"Work at height carries significant risk. This prosecution should serve as a reminder of the essential need to properly plan, supervise and carry out these tasks safely."