Farm business fined after worker injured

A Perthshire farming firm has been fined £12,000 for safety failings after a worker plunged through the roof of a cattle barn.

James Bridge, then 18, sustained a fractured skull, bleeding inside the skull, bruising to his face and a laceration above his left eye when he fell 3m while clearing gutters.

The incident happened on one of four farms run by family partnership Messrs Finlay McGowan in the Alyth area, on 15 August 2012.

Perth Sheriff Court was told that after being lifted by a colleague onto the roof in a basket attached to a telehandler forklift truck, Mr Bridge walked to the far end of the roof, stepping over a PVC roof light he knew was fragile and would not take his weight.

But on his return he did not notice the roof light, which broke under his weight when he stepped on it.

He fell more than 3m and landed on the concrete passageway below with his lower legs caught through a feed barrier.

Mr Bridge was taken to hospital by ambulance and treated for his injuries and discharged the following day. He has since made a full recovery.

Read our Academy article on preventing falls from height

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the workers had not been given instructions and their work was unsupervised. Neither of the men had been trained to work at height, let alone on fragile roof surfaces.

The investigation concluded Messrs Finlay McGowan failed to properly plan and appropriately supervise work being carried out at height, and ensure that the work was carried out in a safe manner.

Messrs Finlay McGowan, of Incheoch Farm, Alyth, Perthshire, was fined £12,000 after pleading guilty to breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Following the case, HSE inspector Michelle Gillies said the incident was “entirely avoidable”.

“The precautions needed to prevent falls from height are basic, inexpensive and easily implemented, such as using crawling boards to spread weight over a large surface and shield fragile roof sheeting or simply by using a mobile working platform.

“Messrs Finlay McGowan should have carried out a risk assessment before work started. This would have identified hazards as well as measures that would have eliminated or reduced the risks to the health and safety of the partnership’s employees.”

See our Farm health and safety page