The press brings again sad news about a fatal accident of an employee working at height and high penalties for his employer. Jason Pennington, the employee, fell through a skylight onto a concrete floor 7.6m below in 2011. He was working at West Cumberland Farmers LTD, in Lindal, Ulverston. The 42-year-old was taken to Furness General Hospital where he later died.
A Cumbrian building firm and its owner have been sentenced £200,000 for the corporate manslaughter offence, and £20,000 for safety breaches. The owner of the company was also sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for two years. He was additionally ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work and publicly to advertise what happened on the company website and to take out a half page spread in the local newspaper.
Chris Hatton, the investigating inspector at HSE, added: “Jason tragically lost his life because the company that employed him did nothing to make sure he was safe while he worked on a fragile roof.” The employeer knew the clear panels on the roof weren’t safe to walk on but neither he nor his company provided any equipment to prevent workers falling to their death".
The Health and Safety at work act 1974 states that it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure, where practicable, the health, safety & welfare of all persons involved in the construction and use of a work place.
The employer has a moral duty and legal responsibility to put fall protection measures in place for persons working at height. The employer should try to minimise the risk through design or engineering controls and provide measures to prevent falls. If this is not feasible then other protective measures should be considered, such as personal fall protection equipment and systems.
The Working at Height Regulations (WaHR) 2005 place duties on employers, the self-employed, and any person who controls the work of others (e.g. facilities managers or building owners who may contract others to work at height) to ensure:
1. All work at height is properly planned and organised
2. Those involved in work at height are competent
3. All risks from work at height are assessed and appropriate work equipment is selected and used
4. The risks from fragile surfaces are properly controlled
5. Equipment for work at height is properly inspected and maintained.