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Tue June 15 2021

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Roofing firm failed employee by skimping on safety

17 Sep 13 A roofer narrowly avoided being paralysed after he fell through a skylight at a Lancashire school, but he will never work again.

St Marys Primary School in Chorley, scene of the accident
St Marys Primary School in Chorley, scene of the accident

The 51-year-old from Kirkby, who has asked not to be named, farctured his spine, breastbone and ribs in the incident at St Marys Primary School in Chorley. He was in hospital for two months and, such are his injuries, he will never be able to return to work. His wife has also had to give up work to care for him.

His employer, St Helens-based W Swindells & Son (Roofing) Ltd, has now been ordered to pay out more than £7,000 in fines and costs for its lack of safety measures after a prosecution brought by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

Leyland Magistrates' Court was told that the firm had been hired to replace the roof on the school on Hornchurch Drive in Chorley. The skylights had been removed and the roof felted over, before another team was sent up to install new tiles.

The worker stepped backwards onto the unsupported felt over a skylight hole and fell three metres to the floor below, striking a partition wall as he fell.

The court heard his injuries could have been avoided if Swindells had planned the work properly and arranged for pieces of plywood to be put over the skylight holes.

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W Swindells & Son (Roofing) Ltd, of Hill School Road in St Helens, was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £3,153 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 on 13 September 2013.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Chris Hatton said: "The worker could easily have been killed when he fell through the roof and will be affected by his injuries for the rest of his life.

"If the company had taken the simple measure of fitting pieces of plywood over the holes then his injuries could have been avoided, but it failed to properly plan the work and anticipate the dangers.

"Sadly these types of incidents are all too common in the construction industry and firms need to do more to look after the safety of people working at height."

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