Preston firm fined after worker plunges through roof to his death

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A PRESTON firm has been fined £45,000 after a labourer was killed falling through a roof as he fitted solar panels on a farm in Hutton.

Gregorz Sobko was one of a team of workers installing the panels on the roof of a cow shed at Tower View Farm, Hutton, when he stepped through a skylight and plunged 20 feet to his death.

His employer, Eco Generation Ltd, accepted it had breached health and safety regulations by failing to provide netting which would have prevented Mr Sobko falling the full distance.

The firm had prepared a method statement prior to the work taking place but steps outlined to protect emplyees working at height had not been followed through. Preston Crown Court heard the company had been hired to fit solar panels to the flat roof on the cowshed, which was about 20 metres wide by 60 metres long.

Each worker had only been given two wooden planks to stand on while they worked.

Mr Sobko had been fitting a solar panel just over a metre away from one of the fragile roof panels when he accidentally stepped on it and fell through the roof.

The court was told there were several measures Eco Generation could have taken to protect workers, such installing netting under the panels or placing protective covers over them.

The HSE investigation found the company had installed netting under some of the panels but not under the one the worker fell through.

Eco Generation Ltd, of Watkin Lane in Lostock Hall, was fined £45,000 and ordered to pay £20,515 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Chris Smith said: “Gregorz tragically lost his life because his employer failed to make sure basic safety measures were in place.

“The risk of people falling through fragile roofs is well known, and the fact that Eco Generation installed netting under a small part of the roof shows the company was aware of the dangers.

“However, this didn’t even come close to what was needed to protect the workers.

“The boards provided were entirely unsuitable and instead a proper working platform or safety barriers should have been erected on the roof.

“It is vital firms carrying out work on roofs take the risks seriously and put measures in place to protect their employees, otherwise we will continue to see the needless deaths of workers like Gregorz.”