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Date PostedOctober 22, 2013

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 PPConstructionSafety.com 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.

Source: http://www.ppconstructionsafety.com/newsdesk/2013/09/12/fragile-roof-injury-toll-continues-apace/

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.


Steven Asnicar is regarded as a leader across many fields of industry. In particular, his specialisation across the health, infrastructure, construction, resource and utility sectors has seen him successfully change the dynamics of these industries through the introduction of new strategic, marketing, training and technical frameworks. Steven works closely with industry peak bodies such as Safework Australia, Australian Logistics Council, National Advisory for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment (NATESE) and the Council of Australian Governments in the development of new delivery standards and industry specific programs.

Posted in General Construction, White Card, White Card Construction Site Safety Articles Tagged with: , , , , , ,


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