Solar installer fined after worker injured in roof light fall

A solar panel installer has been hit with a hefty fine after a worker suffered serious injuries from a fall through an uncovered roof light at a private property in Kent.

Glasgow-based PV Solar UK was fined £153,000 plus £29,480 in costs after the incident in April 2013 left the 32-year old with a fractured shin and vertebra.

The worker, who was only unable to return to work in January this year, was part of a three man team replacing faulty solar panels that the company had installed two years before when he fell through the uncovered roof light. The work was being carried out on an outbuilding housing a swimming pool and while the water partially cushioned his fall, the worker made a heavy impact with the side and flooring around the pool.

Canterbury Crown Court head in a hearing in January that a scaffold tower, ladder and safety harness had been provided for the panel replacement work. However, none of the installation team had received any formal training or instruction on how to use them.

The court also heard that other measures could also have been taken, such as providing full scaffolding or hard covers for the rooflights.

After the hearing, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Melvyn Stancliffe said: “The injured worker suffered serious injury in the fall and could have been killed. He and his colleagues were effectively left to their own devices with equipment that was not wholly suited for the task at hand. In short, better equipment, training and supervision should have been provided.

Glasgow-based P V Solar UK was sentenced on Monday after pleading guilty to three breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

The investigation by the HSE also found that PV Solar UK was served with a Prohibition Notice to stop unsafe work on a fragile roof in Bristol in May 2011. In addition, HSE established that although the initial installation work in Kent in 2011 was completed without incident, the safety equipment provided on that occasion was also lacking.

Stancliffe added: “Working on or near a fragile roof or materials is not a task to be undertaken without proper planning, and without having the appropriate safety measures in place at all times. There is considerable free guidance available from the HSE regarding the precautions needed when working at height, including on or near fragile roof coverings.”

At the time of publication, PV Solar UK had failed to respond to requests for comment.