Fall from height leads to £1,866,000 fine

A Yorkshire pork processing business has been fined £1,866,000 after two employees investigating a leaking roof fell more than 4 m through a skylight.

Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard that the Karro Food Group workers had not realised that the roof contained roof lights, which were not visible due to a build-up of moss and dirt. The two employees were injured in April 2016 at the firm’s plant in Malton, North Yorkshire, which produces bacon, sausages and other pork products.

According to the HSE, the two workers were walking closely together on the asbestos cement roof when they both stood on the same roof light, which collapsed under their weight.

One of the workers suffered four fractured ribs, a punctured lung, and severe bruising to his thigh, while his colleague’s injuries included a fractured skull, muscular injuries to his right leg and damage to his inner ear which led to ongoing problems with balance, memory and mental health.

The HSE investigation found that there were several roof lights that were not visible and that the employees had not been made aware of their presence. Two months after the accident, the HSE served an immediate prohibition notice which said that the company had not taken suitable steps to prevent persons falling through unprotected fragile surfaces and that there was no information available to confirm the non-fragility of the roof materials.

It also served an improvement notice, with a compliance date of 31 August 2016, which said that the company had failed to ensure that work at height on roofs was properly planned, appropriately supervised and carried out in a safe manner.

Karro Food Group pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and were fined £1,866,000 and ordered to pay £8,019 in costs.

HSE inspector Mark Slater said:

This was a wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the company to provide adequate controls against the risks arising from working at height.

Consideration of roof fragility and rooflights, visible or not, should be made, especially on older buildings.