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Company Director Sentenced After Apprentice Fall From Height

8th February 2022

The Director of an air conditioning company has been given a 6-month custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months, following a 2019 incident that led to an apprentice being seriously injured.

Chelmsford Magistrates Court heard that in October 2019, an apprentice had been instructed to replace an external air conditioner unit on the roof of a warehouse, despite the fact he had not worked on a roof previously. The apprentice accessed the roof via a man cage, but subsequently fell through a rooflight, falling five metres to the ground, sustaining a broken back and leaving him unable to return to work since.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that although the company Director had attended the site a month prior to carry out a risk assessment, identifying the rooflights as a fall risk, he failed to implement any controls before sending the inexperienced apprentice onto the roof.

The Director pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. In addition to his six-month suspended sentence, he will be required to complete 150 hours of unpaid work and pay £4,886 in costs and a victim surcharge.

Speaking of the case, Dave Jones, Construction H&S Advisor at SIMIAN said:

“Roof work is always a high-risk activity, and the dangers associated with it are usually fairly obvious to those with experience with the industry. Further to that, simple assessment and planning of the activity can prevent incidents such as this.

Whilst the risks may be obvious to experienced workers, this usually won’t be the case for those with less experience, and therefore that inexperience or lack of awareness should be considered as part of the planning process, with the appropriate levels of supervision being applied, along with any other protective measures that are deemed necessary in the circumstances.”

Risk assessment on sites is key but implementing any necessary changes to rectify issues identified during this assessment is crucial. For support in ensuring this is carried out effectively, speak to the SIMIAN team today.