Unsafe solar panel work could have claimed worker life

DAS Technology Ltd has been prosecuted after an employee fell some 4m through a fragile rooflight while installing solar panels in June 2013.

Magistrates in Barnsley heard (5 June) that the 25-year-old worker could have died but had escaped with serious injuries to his wrist. The company failed to provide safeguards to protect workers from falls or to mitigate the dangers from working on fragile surfaces.

In addition, work continued in the same way for two days after the fall with no visit or investigation to put in place effective safety measures.

The court was also told that an employee warned the company that the system of work was unsafe following a similar incident on a roof eight months earlier.

The work was “badly planned” and employees were not been provided with the right equipment. The workmen were either walking on the roof or from ladders spanning it with no fall arrest nets or lightweight staging on the roof to support the workers safely.

‘Astonishing’ that no remedial action taken

DAS Technology Ltd of London, was fined a total of £25,000 and ordered to pay £541 in costs after guilty pleas were entered to two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Dave Bradley said:

“This was a serious incident in which a young man suffered painful injuries, but it could very easily have been a fatality. It could have been avoided if DAS Technology had employed controls that are routinely used for work of this nature on fragile roofs. The firm had been warned by its own employees of the dangers but turned a blind eye to ignore those concerns and continued with an unsafe method of work regardless. It was also astonishing to find that even after this young man’s fall, they didn’t turn up on site to see what could be done to improve the workers’ protection and again carried on regardless. Falls from height can and do kill as well as seriously injured many hundreds of workers each year. The controls needed are well-known in the industry and where contractors are found to be flouting these requirements, they should expect strong enforcement from HSE.”

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