A solar panel firm has been prosecuted after an employee fell four metres through the fragile roof of a pig shed at an East Yorkshire farm.
The worker had been employed for just two weeks by Solar Fit PV Ltd and had no experience in solar panel installation.
He was on all fours cutting rails for the panels when he suddenly heard a crack and the roof gave way.
The man landed, still on hands and knees, on a soft layer of animal waste on the concrete below and luckily managed to escape severe injury.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Solar Fit PV Ltd after investigating the incident at Rotsea Carr Farm in Cranswick.
York Magistrates’ Court was told Solar Fit had taken measurements and started the installation of 100 solar panels on the roofs of two large pig sheds.
The farm owner was unhappy with the way they had been working and warned that the two roofs were fragile and no work should take place without using crawl boards, which he made available.
HSE found Solar Fit took no action as a result of this advice and both the director and the inexperienced employee carried on working unsafely on the roof.
The worker was continuing with the task, unsupervised, when the roof collapsed beneath him. He suffered a radial fracture to his left elbow and bruising to his legs.
Solar Fit PV Ltd, of Fox Oak Park, Common Road, Dunnington, York, was fined a total of £6,000 and ordered to pay £6,585 in costs after admitting two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Andy Denison said: “This worker was extremely fortunate not to have suffered more severe injuries in a fall of four metres. It could even have proved fatal.
“The company left an inexperienced worker alone to work on the roof without suitable safety measures in place, having told him to walk on the purlins – which is extremely dangerous.
“Falls through fragile roofs and rooflights account for some 22 per cent of falls from height in the construction industry – or seven deaths and around 300 major injuries a year.”
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