Breaches of health and safety led to woman falling through roof

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On Tuesday magistrates in Burton-on-Trent fined an animal feed producer and a maintenance contractor a total of £15,848 for serious breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 after a woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, fell 5 meters through a fragile roof covering, suffering two fractured vertebrae's and extensive bruising.

In a Health and Safety Executive prosecution it was found that the feed producer, the woman's employer, hired the contractor because his price was £20,000 less another roofing firm, but they did not check whether he was competent to carry out the work.

He wasn't, having never worked on fragile roofs before and remarkably, the woman, and her colleagues, were organised to muck in and help him. Speaking after the verdict, HSE inspector Mr Lindsay Hope reminded us that "Clear guidance on working at height is available from HSE and it is unacceptable to see such failings." 

A salutary lesson to all employers.  You pay for what you get.   Thankfully, the woman survived to tell her story and I have no doubt that any claim for personal injury damages has high prospects of success.   

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