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Farm owner prosecuted for employee injuries

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Farm worker severely injured in fall

A farm worker in Cornwall suffered very serious injuries after he fell sixteen feet through a shed roof. Bodmin Magistrates’ Court heard that James Best, a self-employed worker, had been asked to assist in removing fibre cement roofing sheets from a shed. The incident happened on the 12th day of July 2011 at Park Farm, Washaway, which is near Bodmin. Some of the injuries sustained by the twenty four year old worker include a broken arm, broken jaw and a damaged eye socket.

After a thorough investigation, the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) decided to prosecute Martin Dairy who was Mr. Best’s employer at the time of the incident.

No safety measures had been implemented on the site, save for a warning sign at the shed. The crawling board being used was also dismissed as inadequate. The court was also informed that fibre cement roofs that have become so popular in commercial buildings are usually very delicate. Furthermore, the HSE had previously issued guidelines on the fragility of these roofing sheets. It had been directed that they should never be expected to support the weight of a person.

After the hearing, the HSE inspector in question, Georgina Speake said that no assessment of the condition of the fragile roof had been done. In addition, there was no written plan to guide the demolition job, which is a requirement of construction laws. Martin Dairy was accused of not providing adequate working equipment. Despite crawling boards being in place, they were not wide enough meaning the workers would have to walk on the roof at some point. No safety net or crash deck had been put in place to prevent serious injury in case of a fall. “The incident could easily have been prevented if proper planning had been done,” Speake added.

With falls from heights being the common cause of fatalities at many plants, companies were called upon to prioritize safety within their working premises.