Self Employed Roofer Fined for Workers Fall Through Fragile Skylight

A self-employed roofer has been fined after an employee suffered major injuries falling through a skylight at a Nuneaton industrial estate.
A Sutton Coldfield man was re-cladding the asbestos roof of premises at the Centrovell Industrial Estate, on Caldwell Road, on 17 July 2010 when he fell seven metres to the factory floor below. He fractured his pelvis, back and foot and was unable to work for several months.
Self-employed roofer John O’Brien was responsible for the work and was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found he failed to do enough to prevent or mitigate the fall.
Nuneaton Magistrates’ Court heard (11 April) that although Mr O’Brien had taken some steps to protect workers on the roof, there was no protection in place on the skylight the worker fell through, which was known to be fragile.
John Edward O’Brien, 42, of Newmarket Road, Norton Canes, Cannock, was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs for a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Mhairi Lockwood said:
"Normally you would expect netting to be put up under the roof that was being worked on in order to catch a falling person before they hit the ground. This situation was unusual though, as the building had a lot of ducting, so another system was put in place, using metallic mesh.
"However, at the time, there was no covering over the fragile roof lights, meaning the injured person suffered the serious injuries he did.
"Work at height is a high-risk activity which requires thorough planning and execution. The system of work adopted should be clear and unambiguous, involving detailed sequencing of how the work was going to be carried out and the control measures that need to be in place."
Further information about working safely at height and preventing falls can be found online at