A County Durham firm and a director have been fined for safety failings after a worker was seriously injured when he fell around 3.5 metres through the fragile roof of a barn he was cleaning.

The 25-year-old, was one of three labourers employed by Tees Valley Compost Cleaning Services Ltd.

They were instructed by the company director  to clear debris from the roof of the barn that had gathered during compost cleaning activities.

Peterlee Magistrates’ Court heard that the worker was working at the highest point of two softwood boards that had been placed onto the corrugated sheet cement roof. The boards were necessary because cement sheets are well known for being fragile and many workers have fallen through such roofs.

Using a brush, he pushed the debris down from the roof towards the second labourer, who was also working on the boards. He in turn then pushed it down to the third labourer, who was on an access platform, who then pushed it onto the floor.

At the end of the day’s work, the worker stepped off the boards onto the cement roof, which gave way and he fell through it. He fell around 3.5 metres and landed on an agricultural mower in the shed below.

He fractured the bone at the base of his spine and was off work for two weeks.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the wooden boards being used were not fitted with any kind of edge protection and there were no other safety measures, such as safety netting or guard rails in use to prevent or lessen the impact of any fall from height.

Tees Valley Compost Cleaning Services Ltd,  was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £3,506.50 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of The Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Th director pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was fined £2,000.

Source: HSE Website

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