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Failure in assessing and managing the risks of working at height

A man’s life was shattered after he plunged more than 20ft from a roof and broke his back because the firm he worked for paid little attention to safe systems of working at height, a court has heard.

The 33-year-old worker, who does not wish to be named, suffered serious back injuries after a fall from a roof at the house in Cookridge, Leeds, in February last year (2010). He was in hospital 15 days and the injuries will affect him the rest of his working life.
The man’s former employer, Fluetech Ltd, pleaded guilty at Leeds Magistrates’ Court to three health and safety offences in a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The firm, of Drakes Industrial Estate, Shay Lane, Halifax, was fined a total of £13,500 and ordered to pay costs of £3,873.
The court heard that the worker had been about to install a flue liner down the chimney when the roof ladder gave way and he fell to the ground below.
He did not know there was a dormer extension on the other side of the roof so the roof ladder did not hook over the ridge properly.
HSE Inspector David Welsh said the firm relied too much on portable ladders and an investigation showed that in this case they should have used scaffolding or a scaffolding tower.
He added: “This worker has suffered horrendous and life-changing injuries as a result of the company’s numerous failures. What makes matters worse is that, after the man was taken to hospital severely injured, the company allowed its employees to finish that job and subsequently similar jobs, all using the same unsafe systems of work.
“The company was very poor at assessing and managing the risks of working at heights. Anyone who works in the construction industry knows that falls are the commonest cause of death and serious injury in the workplace.”
Officials at Fluetech were unavailable for comment.