Family firm fined after worker broke back in roof fall

A family-run company in Birmingham that specialises in removing asbestos from buildings has been fined after an employee broke his back when he fell through a fragile roof.

The 58-year-old man, from Yardley, fractured two vertebrae when he fell three metres through the roof of a garage at Warndon, Worcester, on 29 January 2014.

He was off work for eight weeks before returning to his job with TES Environmental Services Ltd.

Worcester Magistrates’ Court heard that the worker was supervising a team of asbestos removal operatives, taking off asbestos cement roof sheets from blocks of garages prior to their demolition.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the man fell while working from a single crawl board on the fragile roof, with no fall protection or mitigation measures in place.

TES Environmental Services Ltd, of Walmer Way, Chelmsley Wood, Birmingham, was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £1,425 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After sentencing, HSE inspector Luke Messenger said:

“This was a serious incident and this worker was fortunate not to suffer more serious or even fatal injuries.

“Rather than clearing out the garages and continuing the removal of the roof from below, they continued to work on the fragile roof using only crawl boards, again without any fall protection in place.

“This was worrying, particularly as the company directors had been advised previously regarding safe work with fragile roofs.

“Work at height is the biggest single cause of fatal and serious injury in the construction industry. There really is no excuse for not following basic precautions to prevent falls.”