Construction News

Sun June 13 2021

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Solar panel specialist lacked fall prevention measures

31 May 13 A solar panel installer cracked his head and broke his back when he fell through a fragile skylight at a north London warehouse.

The warehouse roof
The warehouse roof

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) identified that there were no measures in place to prevent or mitigate a fall, such as safety netting beneath the skylights.

Brian Dolan, 58, from Warwick, was working for Grenergy Solar Ltd installing 342 solar panels at Blundell Street in Islington on 1 March 2012. He fractured his skull in two places, broke five vertebrae and three ribs, and suffered hearing impairment in the incident. He was hospitalised for more than a fortnight and was unable to work for seven months.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that his fall occurred on the second day of the work when he plunged almost five metres to the concrete floor below. A pallet of flour in the warehouse partly broke his fall, but not enough to prevent serious injury. Magistrates were told that had the work been properly assessed, with appropriate safety measures taken, then the incident could have been avoided.

Grenergy Solar Ltd, on Main Street, Thurlaston, Rugby, Warwickshire, was fined a total of £12,000 and ordered to pay £9,041 in costs after pleading guilty to two separate breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

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After the hearing HSE inspector Paul Hems said: “You would expect a company like Grenergy Solar Ltd that specialises in roof installations to be fully aware of the risks posed by working at height on, with or near fragile surfaces, and to take the appropriate safety precautions.

“Yet that clearly didn’t happen here, and Mr Dolan could easily have paid with his life as a result. The District Judge commented, in relation to the system of work proposed but never actually implemented by the company, that it was a ‘defective process and implementation of it was defective’.

“Mr Dolan suffered terrible injury in a wholly preventable yet depressingly frequent incident, and it is imperative that effective measures are put in place at all times to prevent or mitigate falls.”

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