A Croydon-based cleaning firm has been landed with a £60,000 fine after a worker suffered “life-changing” brain injuries when he plunged six metres through a fragile roof light.
A 36-year-old employee at CleanSafe Services, a commercial cleaning company based in Progress Way, Waddon, suffered a severed skull fracture, brain damage, multiple arm and wrist fractures and several broken ribs after falling through an acrylic roof light on to concrete floor on December 11, 2013.
Eastbourne Magistrates Court heard, on March 6, that CleanSafe Services had taken “grossly inadequate” safety precautions ahead of the incident.
The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), who prosecuted the cleaning company for breaches of the Work at Height regulations.
The cleaning company admitted three breaches of health and safety regulations.
The worker, from Goring-by-Sea, West Sussex, spent nearly two months in hospital, part of that time in an induced coma, and has been unable to work since.
He has lost his sense of smell and taste, has impaired sight in one eye and is totally deaf in one ear.
HSE Inspector, Amanda Huff, said that CleanSafe “had no experience of working on fragile roofs.
“The victim of this case suffered life-threatening, and now life-changing, injuries and there is no doubt that this could have been a fatality.”
The court heard how the employee was part of a small team sent by CleanSafe to clean of 34 acrylic roof lights at a car rental premises in Eastbourne.
At one stage, the worker had inspected a cleaned light from ground level, and had just returned to the roof when he accidentally stepped on one of the roof lights.
The acrylic gave way, sending him falling through to the concrete floor below.
HSE said that CleanSafe could have hired a mobile working platform with an extended reach so workers did not have to go on to the roof, or used proper crawling boards with handrails and netting inside the building instead of the six scaffold boards the company provided.
Ms Huff said: “It is unacceptable for firms to put their employees at needless risk. There are several people killed each year and many more badly injured falling through fragile roofs.”
The court also ordered the company to pay £5,741 costs.