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Solar panel installer fined for work at height violations

PV Solar, a solar panel installer from Glasgow, must pay more than £182,000 in fines and costs after one of its employees was injured when he fell through a roof light.

The water partially cushioned the worker's fall, though he was left with fractures to his shin and spine
HSE

The roof light was on a swimming pool outbuilding at a private home in Kent. The injured worker was part of a three man team replacing faulty solar panels that were installed by PV Solar in April 2011. He was carrying a panel along the roof and fell through one of the eight roof lights. The water in the swimming pool partly broke his fall but he hit the side and fractured his shin and spine.  

The accident happened on 30 April 2013 but the 32-year-old was unable to return to work until January this year, and then on a part-time basis only.  

PV Solar was sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court following a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation, which found none of the installation team had been trained on how to use the scaffold tower, ladder and safety harness that was supplied for the panel replacement work. The company could also have provided other equipment, such as full scaffolding or hard covers for the roof lights. 

The HSE served PV Solar with a prohibition notice to stop unsafe work on a fragile roof in Bristol in May 2011. The executive said the company therefore knew what was required to prevent falls during work at height. 

The company pleaded guilty the three separate breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was fined £153,000 and ordered to pay a further £29,480 in prosecution costs.  

“He [the injured worker] and his colleagues were effectively left to their own devices with equipment that was not wholly suited for the task at hand. In short, better equipment, training and supervision should have been provided,” said HSE inspector Melvyn Stancliffe after the hearing.

 

Keeley Downey is acting deputy editor of IOSH Magazine. She is a former editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine

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