A Devon farmer has been fined £5,000 over the death of a herdsman who fell through a plastic skylight while working on a shed.

William Luscombe, 65, was repairing a dairy roof when he fell 9ft and landed on a concrete floor below, at Willsworthy Farm, in North Tamerton, Devon.

He suffered serious head injuries and was airlifted to hospital, where he later died in October 2010, Exeter Crown Court heard on Tuesday (18 December).

His boss Roy Griffin, 60, a partner in TRD Griffin and Son Partnership, admitted breaching health and safety regulations.

He was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £8,800 in costs, in a case brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The HSE investigation found a sign at the site which warned of a fragile roof on the dairy. But no plans had been made for the work, as required under law.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Georgina Speake said: “Mr Luscombe, although an experienced herdsman, did not have any training for working on roofs and was working without supervision. No equipment that could have prevented or mitigated the effects of a fall was provided, such as safety nets or suitable boarding.

“Although crawling boards were present on the farm, they had not been used and were too narrow to provide effective safe access on the roof. The use of a telehandler bucket was also an inappropriate way to gain access to the roof itself.

“Falls through roofs are all too common and can result in serious or even fatal injuries. Work must be properly planned and appropriate safety equipment provided to minimise the risks involved.”

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