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Cladding contractor fined after roof fall

Suffolk-based cladding contractor Balsham (Buildings) has been fined after a worker fell 7 m and suffered a serious head injury.

The Kennett firm was fined £45,000 following the incident, which saw Rafal Myslim suffer a haematoma on the brain.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard that Mr Myslim was standing on a fragile roof at Dengie Crops premises in Asheldem, Essex, when asbestos sheeting gave way and he fell 7.5 m onto a concrete floor, hitting a number of pipes within the building on the way down.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found there was no safety netting or other protective equipment to prevent him falling.

The HSE said Balsham acted as a subcontractor to agricultural machinery supplier Ernest Doe & Sons, which was main contractor for the roof replacement job.

Balsham then further subcontracted the actual replacement of the roof to Castle Hedingham firm Strong Clad.

Balsham pleaded guilty to breaching 4(1)(a) and 4(1)(c) of the Work at Height Regulation 2005. As well as its fine, the firm was ordered to pay costs of £7,000.

Ernest Doe & Sons Ltd, of Ulting, Essex, was fined £360,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,000. Strong Clad was fined £7,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,000.

HSE inspector Adam Hills said: “The dangers of working on fragile roofs are well documented. Every year too many people are killed or seriously injured due to falls from height while carrying out this work.

“Work at height requires adequate planning, organisation and communication between all parties. This incident was entirely preventable and Mr Myslim is lucky to be alive.”

Ernest Doe & Sons managing director Colin Doe said the court took into consideration the company’s high standards of health & safety risk management, and that it provides employment for 500 local people.

He added that Ernest Doe closed the farm services department in 2015 and “no longer takes on the role of principal contractor under any circumstances”.

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