Bizspace and Massey prosecuted over roof falls

A fine of £5,000 has been issued after three workers fell through skylights at the same industrial unit in Warrington on three separate occasions leaving one of them paralysed.

Warrington Crown Court heard that a caretaker from Accrington, employed by Bizspace Investments, fell through a fragile skylight while cleaning guttering on 20 March 2007. The worker suffered multiple rib fractures and severe bruising.

Another Bizspace employee was sent to take photographs of the scene, at the industrial unit on Craven Court industrial estate at Winwick Quay, but fell through a different skylight. He landed feet-first on a mezzanine floor and escaped injury.

Three weeks later, on 10 April 2007, a 62-year-old man from Bury, employed by Massey Roofing & Building Contractors, was sent to repair the skylights.

While fixing a skylight, the worker, who asked not to be named, fell more than four metres to the ground below. He sustained severe spinal injuries, leading to him being paralysed from the waist down.

Bizspace, the building's owner and the employer of the first two men, and Anthony Massey, trading as Massey Roofing & Building Contractors, were prosecuted by HSE for putting workers' lives at risk.

Bizspace Investments, of Albert Place in Finchley, London, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9,000 at Warrington Crown Court on 6 January 2011.

Anthony Massey, 67 of Sunnybank Road, Bury, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the same Act. As he has been declared bankrupt, Mr Massey received a conditional discharge which means that he will not be fined as long as he does not commit another offence in the next twelve months.

Martin Heywood, the investigating inspector at HSE, said: "It is astonishing that virtually the same incident was allowed to happen on three separate occasions. A man was sent onto a roof without safety equipment, despite two caretakers falling through skylights less than a month earlier.

"As a result, the worker is likely to need to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life. If the project had been properly planned, using appropriate equipment for work at height, then all three workers would have remained uninjured.

"More workplace deaths are caused by falls from height than anything else but companies continue to allow workers to balance dangerously on roofs. It is vital lessons are learnt from this tragic case."

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