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Long-serving contractor given no protection

12 Aug 11 A Burnley engineering firm has been fined £6,000 plus more than £6,000 in costs for ignoring the safety of its 67-year-old handyman, sending him onto a fragile roof without fall protection.

The roof from which the worker fell
The roof from which the worker fell

In September 2010 the handyman, who had been with the firm for 30 years, was sent onto the factory roof to fix a leak. He lost his balance, stepped backwards and fell through one of the roof panels. He escaped injury after landing on a machine cover more than four metres below.

Engineering firm Lupton & Place was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at its factory on Athletic Street, Burnley.

Reedley Magistrates' Court was told that the company, which employs almost 150 people, allowed the contractor to work along a section of the roof without anything in place to stop him falling.

Lupton & Place Ltd admitted breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of workers. The company, which produces parts for the automotive, defence and electronics industries, was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £6,250 in prosecution costs on 11 August 2011.

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Speaking after the hearing, HSE investigating inspector Matt Lea said: "The contractor had been employed by the firm for more than 30 years, but nothing was done to monitor or control the work he was doing.

"A company the size of Lupton and Place should have requested method statements and risk assessments from him to make sure the work could be done safely. It would have been much more sensible to use a cherry picker to fix the leak, instead of allowing someone to walk along the roof and work on the fragile surface.

"The handyman was very lucky to come away from the incident with just bruising. He could easily have suffered a major injury or even been killed in a fall of that distance.”

Last year more than 4,000 people in Britain suffered a major injury as a result of a fall from height at work.

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