Man In His Twenties Falls Through Roof in Sydney


A fall through a roof at a building site in Sydney’s south west has left a man in his twenties hospitalised.

The worker fell from a height at a a site in Oran Park and was rushed to hospital by paramedics.

Although not many details have emerged about the incident, it is under investigation by SafeWork NSW.

This is an important issue that requires attention given that statistics from Safe Work Australia show falls from a height were the main cause of fatalities in both the building construction and construction services industry sub-divisions between 2007 and 2016.

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Worker’s Debilitating Fall Injury Results in Fine for Employer

WorkSafe New Zealand has warned the construction industry that workplace injuries from falls from height are not acceptable.

A worker recently fell from a roof with no edge protection through a glass table onto concrete resulting in a fine for the company responsible. It was revealed that 2 workers were on the roof and exposed to the risk of fall.

An investigation by WorkSafe revealed that businesses failed to identify the risk of fall and failed to put fall protection into place. Many businesses failed to provide training and work from height instruction for workers.

WorkSafe stressed that the best controls are those  that don’t require active judgement by a worker, including edge protection or scaffolding.



Guarding against Roof-light Falls

When implementing fall protection it is important that builders don’t only take work from ladders, scaffolds and roofs into account, they also need to be aware of the risk involved when roof lights are present on structures.

All too often employers fail to identify or assess the risk associated with roof-lights and workers fall through them as a result. This is what happened on a construction site in Leicester in The UK recently.

A worker is lucky to be alive after falling through the roof-light because the builder in charge had failed to implement the necessary precautions.

A principal contractor has been fined for failing to implement the necessary safety precautions to prevent the injury of workers on site after a workman fell through a fragile roof light while working on the roof of a factory. The man was involved in minor building renovation and repair at a factory. Part of the renovation included replacing the roof-lights.

The following post from explains what happened:

fragilerooflightacc9Leicester Magistrates heard (12 Sept) that the defendant, James Beeston, and another workmen were replacing the rooflights with solid strips of roof sheeting using a jig. The other workman was kneeling on a board over one of the roof lights and attemtping to use the jig.

James Beeston came to show him what to do and as the other man moved away he fell through the fragile roof light behind him to the concrete floor 3m below.

He was airlifted to hospital with a fractured neck and right arm. He also suffered soft tissue damage to his kidneys and hip and has not yet returned to work.

HSE investigators found that builder James Beeston failed to provide any suitable safety measures to prevent a fall through the fragile roof material.

Fragile roof dangers likely to be put before the courts

Mr Beeston, of Limby Hall Lane, Swannington, Coalville, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 9(2)(a)of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. He was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay costs of £397.


Following the case the health and safety inspector, Tony Mitchell said that falls through roof lights are a significant cause of fatal incidents on British construction sites. These risks are widely known among the construction industry and yet the builder failed to implement the necessary measures to reduce the risks.

When performing work on roofs where roof-lights are present there are certain precautions that need to be implemented. Before work begins builders should check carefully for any roof lights in non-fragile roofs as they can be difficult to spot, for example they may have been painted over and in bright sunshine they can blend in with the surrounding sheets.

Take precautions to prevent falls wherever the job involves passing by or working within 2 m of fragile roof lights. Such safety precautions may include but are not limited to:

  • Fitting the appropriate secure covers over the roof lights
  • Providing suitable guard rails and toe boards around the roof lights
  • Providing a safety net, airbag or similar immediately below the roof light.


Serious Accident Highlights the Importance of Fall Protection

An accident which was reported recently reminded me of the serious consequences that workplace accidents can have especially on those within the construction industry. The incident also reminded me of the need for safety measures when undertaking work from heights because falls from heights are still the most common cause of injury in the construction sector. Almost every construction worker has witnessed an accident on site first hand or knows someone who has suffered a fall while engaging in construction work.

The accident in question took place on a site in Swindon in the UK and was reported on the popular building website Construction accidents can have extreme and severe consequences for workers if the proper control measures are not implemented.

According to the article, the 2 companies involved Wates Construction Ltd and Tego Roofing Ltd. were fined for failing to implement the proper fall protection which led to the paralysation of a worker. The worker fell through a waterproof membrane into an unguarded opening on a major development site, resulting in life changing consequences.

The horrific accident resulted from the man plummeting more than 4 metres while conducting metalwork in preparation for the installation of a vent in a roof on the new development. The man fell through the hole where the vent was going to placed. This is why we say that any possibility of a fall above 2 metres needs to be managed and the appropriate fall protection implemented.

During the investigation of this incident it was revealed that the scaffolding underneath the opening where the man was working was removed and the scaffolding boards placed over the opening were removed in order for the waterproof membrane to be placed, which meant that there was no safety mechanism in place to prevent a fall or minimise the seriousness of the impact.

Read what the post on went on to explain:

cdmpmm2The court was also told:

RAMS – were unsuitable and insufficient (failed to refer to the installation for the vent);

Confusion – surrounded who was the site supervisor when the incident occurred and,

Lack of action – manager observed persons near opening but did take action.

HSE established that Tego Roofing failed to provide adequate supervision or instruction to its employees and Wates Construction failed to plan, manage and monitor the work and did not ensure there was a risk assessment in place.

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Sadly accidents such as this one occur quite regularly despite the fact that they can be quite easily avoided by simply implementing the appropriate fall protection and whatever other controls are needed. Sadly the worker in this case was paralysed but the consequences for him could have been even worse, he is lucky to be alive, others may not be.

The employer in this instance failed to plan, manage and monitor work processes on the site and failed to implement risk assessments. Employers also need to ensure that workers are supervised appropriately especially when undertaking high risk work. Part of an employer’s duty according WH&S regulations is for them to implement a safe system of work to avoid incidents such as this one.


Why Fall Protection is often Ignored

I very often hear it being said (and indeed say it myself) that falls from heights are the most common cause of death within the building industry. While most of us accept this statement as fact, the more important question which we should be asking ourselves is why? Why is it that more workers around the world die from falls than any other hazards? In understanding why we can attempt to remedy the situation.

Obviously the underlying root of most construction hazard problems is a lack of attention to safety and the absence of a good safety culture. Training workers, supervising them and maintaining good communication on site are all vital in promoting overall safety however when it comes to falls, the single biggest cause of fatalities is a lack of fall protection, either because it takes some planning and provision or because workers are more concerned with productivity which they feel fall protection may hamper. Whatever the reason, the outcome is very often the same, an injury or fatality.

A post on a safety blog attempted to understand reasons why workers fail to wear fall protection and some of the excuses they give for neglecting fall safety. Ultimately no matter the excuse fall protection is mandatory and should be worn at all times.

The first reason given as to why fall protection equipment is not worn is because it is uncomfortable. This is the same reason many people don’t like wearing their seatbelts but yet no one debates the fact that seatbelts save lives, similarly there should be no question that fall protection equipment is mandatory because it saves lives.

Fall protection equipment has come a long way and with modern designs, comfort has been factored in. Try out the most comfortable designs which will give workers no excuse not to utilise them. Also ensure workers are trained on correct use of all personal protective equipment including those used for fall protection because if they are not utilising it correctly, not only will it be uncomfortable but it will also be less effective.

The post on goes on to discuss the excuse that fall protection equipment limits worker’s ability to work…

Depending upon the work that you do, the protective gear may actually limit your ability to do the work that you need to do. This is probably the most common reason why people do not use the equipment. Customers and employers want to have the job done correctly the first time, so it is important to do whatever you need to do to accomplish this goal. Too many people sacrifice their safety for a better product.

A good fall protection training consultant and also many product specialists can help determine the best and most versatile equipment for your particular application. If you’re new to using fall protection equipment, these can be the best resources available. The right equipment should not inhibit someone’s ability to do their job. Instead it will increase their confidence and allow them to work without fearing for their life.


The article goes on to explain excuses such as fears that the equipment make the worker feel less safe and that it takes up more time and costs more – costs which are not validated (according to these excuse makers). Read the full post at