Three contractors fined a combined total of more than £526,000

Construction site

Construction firms have been warned to do more to protect workers working at height after three contractors were fined a total of more than £526,000 following an accident involving an employee working on a fragile roof.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard how, on 17 December 2015, an employee of Wessex Insulation Limited was injured when he was installing insulation to new ventilation ductwork on the roof of the Mountbatten Leisure Centre in Portsmouth.

The employee fell four meters through a fragile roof light into an office space below, suffering six fractures to his back.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found three companies – Dantherm Limited (the principal contractor), Wessex Building Services Limited (the main contractor on site) and Wessex Insulation Ltd (the insulation sub-contractor) – had failed to plan and manage the risk of falling through roof lights sufficiently.

Dantherm Limited of Windmill Business Park, Clevedon, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015 and was fined £30,666 and ordered to pay costs of £6,646.16.

Wessex Building Services Limited of Wessex House, Shaftesbury, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1)(a) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £425,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,646.16.

Wessex Insulation Limited of Albany Road, Weymouth, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 9(2) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £70,833 and ordered to pay costs of £6,646.16.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Jane Beckmann said falls from height were the most common cause of work-related fatalities and serious injuries in the construction industry and the risks around working at height were well-known.

“Working on or near fragile materials at height can be particularly dangerous and it is very important that those in control of the work identify the risk, plan to eliminate it if possible, or where it is not possible, take appropriate precautions to safeguard workers and others.

“Good management will also include regular monitoring that the controls in place are keeping people safe. It was fortunate that in this instance the worker involved made a full recovery, but it could have been a very different outcome.”