Property company fined £200,000 for failings that led to severe injury
From our colleagues at Barbour EHS.
A Glasgow property company has been fined for health and safety failings which left a man with severe injuries and permanent impairment.
The company, which manages and disposes of Glasgow City Council’s surplus properties, pled guilty to health and safety breaches at Glasgow Sheriff Court on 20 December 2022. On 21 December the company was fined £200,000.
The court heard that on 5 April 2018 two members of the company’s asbestos team were carrying out a survey on the roof of Netherton Community Centre.
They were finishing taking samples of roof felt and had just started to head back to the ladder when one of the men fell backwards through a roof light and landed on the floor approximately eight metres below.
His colleague called the emergency services and followed the operator’s instructions on how to look after him until an ambulance arrived.
The man suffered life-changing injuries, including a severe brain injury, hearing loss, and a broken spine which has resulted in him being paralysed from the waist down.
The HSE investigation found there had been inadequate assessment of the risks involved for the work at height carried out on the external roof areas of the community centre. While a generic risk assessment had been done, no specific risk assessment had been done.
Management did not do site checks to see if work was being carried out safely or if the plans for such work were safe. The paperwork that the asbestos surveyors completed before the survey was not checked.
In addition, Glasgow City Council Corporate Governance Health and Safety Team, who were contracted to provide health and safety advice to the Asbestos Team did nothing to check that health and safety procedures were in place and were being followed.
At the time of the accident, there was no edge protection provided and the roof lights were not covered over or had barriers around them. There were no fall-mitigation measures, such as netting or crash decks, harnesses or any fall restraint or fall arrest equipment provided.
Debbie Carroll, who leads on health and safety investigations for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said:
“This was a foreseeable and avoidable accident resulting in severe injury and permanent impairment. This incident could well have proved fatal and has irrevocably changed a man’s life.
This accident could have been avoided if the Company had put in place the appropriate planning and protective measures.
Hopefully this prosecution will remind other employers that failure to fulfil their obligations can have severe consequences and that they will be held to account for their failings.”
“ This unfortunate accident illustrates the need to ensure robust risk assessments are in place covering site specific work activities and also adequate training and instruction to ensure employees carry out further dynamic risk assessments whilst on site.“
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