Double danger as two brothers fall from height


Although we often have to report upon falls from height, it is rare that two workers are affected in the same incident.

This happened in June 2013 at Llan-y-nant Farm, nr. Trellech, Monmouthshire. Andrew Green of Abergavenny (trading as Green Park Power) was responsible for a project to install solar panels on a roof.

Brothers Brynley Perrett (37) and Anthony Perrett were working on this roof, which was classified by the later HSE investigation as fragile. Nevertheless, Mr Green the responsible contractor had not recognised this roof as a risk factor.

When both workers fell through the roof, and suffered a drop of some 15 feet, Brynley received a compression fracture in his back and sternum. Luckily Anthony was not injured.

Risks not assessed

The inevitable investigation took place and the finding was that Mr Green had not carried out a proper risk assessment. As a result he had put in place no netting or edge protection to scaffolding that could have prevented the falls or at least limited the effects of them.

At Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court, Andrew Green entered a plea of guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. His fine was £4,500; in addition he had to pay prosecution costs of £1,500.

The very appropriate verdict delivered by the HSE Inspector Steve Richardson was:

Both brothers were fortunate not to have suffered far more serious injury in this easily avoidable incident. Had nets or other safety measures been installed then the fall risk would have been significantly minimised and the likelihood of injury reduced. Working on a roof can be dangerous, with falls accounting for more deaths in the construction industry than any other type of incident. The risks are well known, and guidance is freely available outlining how to work safely at height. The onus was on Mr. Green to ensure the safety of those in his employment, but he failed to do so. Those in charge of the work must be properly qualified and competent to ensure that the work is carried out safely.

McCormack Benson Health & Safety endorses such sentiments whole-heartedly as it finds, in its daily work as specialist construction safety consultants, all too many cases where building contractors do not observe proper precautions when specifying and carrying out their works.

It is particularly sad when firms that set out to install responsible energy systems like solar panels do not observe the required minimum safety standards.