Fragile roof-light sheets can often be found in roofs which are otherwise non-fragile. If you do not identify these sheets and do not take appropriate precautions, the consequences can be tragic.
A farmer died after falling 4m through a roof light while carrying out repairs on the barn roof of a neighbouring farm. To reach the area of the tin sheet roof that needed repairing he had to pass a number of roof lights that had not been covered or fenced off. The neighbouring farmer had been passing up materials to him but had gone to make a drink at the time of the accident. The farmer doing the repairs was found semi-conscious beneath a broken roof light and was taken to hospital. He died nine days later from head injuries.
Two employees were dismantling a farm building. As one of the workers walked across the roof he fell through a skylight to the concrete floor below, suffering multiple fractures and head injuries.
It appears that the employees had been left to themselves to organise and plan the demolition of the building. No method statement or other plan had been devised to make sure the work could be carried out safely. In the absence of a method statement or plan, the workers decided on the method of demolition between themselves and, in doing so, they gave no thought to how to prevent falls and no precautions were taken. The route used to access the ridge meant that workers had to walk close to unprotected fragile skylights and no safety netting or other fall prevention methods were used.
A 19-year-old worker was injured when he fell approximately 4.5m through a fragile roof light in a cement fibre roof. He suffered a compound fracture of his left wrist and bruising to his left hip. He was assisting a farm worker to repair the roof. He gained access to the roof via a ladder that was not secured. There were no crawling boards or similar available for use. The roof light was not guarded or covered to prevent employees falling onto it, and a safety net was not in use. The roof – which had a small pitch – had no edge protection. The whole of the roof should have been assumed to be fragile, but no risk assessment had been carried out; no safe system of work had been established; and the necessary equipment to carry out the work safely had not been provided.
An employee fell through a skylight when he was pressure-washing a pig building inside and out (including the roof) during an intensive disease-control programme. He was working under the direct supervision of the farm manager, who was pressure-washing on the roof alongside him.
They gained access to the roof simply by climbing up the outside of the structure. Both men walked across the corrugated asbestos cement sheets, using pressure lances to hose the roof surfaces. Other employees had been engaged in the same activity when they had the time available. No consideration was given to the use of crawling boards, working platforms or cherry pickers. The young employee fell to the concrete floor, fracturing his right leg and wrist.