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SAEMA would like to thank Grant Prior at Construction Enquirer for allowing us to share the following story (first published at:

A fine has been issued to contractor Trevor Cook Construction Ltd, after a worker fell six metres through a fragile roof sheet whilst working on a barn at a farm in Amesbury, Wiltshire.

Swindon Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 22 May 2019, the employee was replacing broken roof sheets using a mobile elevating working platform to gain access to the roof of the barn and crawling boards to traverse the roof.

The employee’s foot slipped from one of the crawling boards and he subsequently fell through the fragile roof material, sustaining serious injuries including neck fractures, a collapsed lung, and a bleed on the brain.

An HSE investigation found that Trevor Cook Construction failed to plan the work appropriately.

The company was aware of the risks and often used netting when undertaking large re-roofing projects, but made a conscious decision not to install nets for smaller jobs, which involved the replacement of individual roof sheets. The chances of falling whilst working on fragile roofs are very high and the company should have had the appropriate safeguards in place.

SAEMA (Specialist Access Engineering & Maintenance Association) works with partner companies to deliver the best training and guidance in the temporary and permanent suspended access industry. Its aim is to ensure tragic accidents such as this one in Wiltshire are prevented.

Trevor Cook Construction Limited of Marlborough, Wiltshire pleaded guilty to safety breaches and was fined £63,278 and ordered to pay costs of £6,721.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Stephan Axt-Simmonds said: “Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities in this country and the risks associated with working at height are well known.

“Falls through fragile roof materials are not inevitable. They can be prevented by careful planning, using trained and experienced workers with suitable equipment, and employing a high level of supervision.

“This incident could so easily have been avoided by using established control measures and safe working practices.”