A telecoms engineer fell seven metres after losing his balance, in an incident that may have been avoided through the use of a man anchor as a form of fall protection.
The engineer was working for BT in a residential block of flats in Tower Hamlets, when he stumbled and fell through the ceiling of the roof void.
He landed some seven metres below, on a concrete stair well – and is lucky to be alive, albeit with severe injuries.
They include broken ankles and a broken back, and his employer was ultimately fined £500,000 with nearly £100,000 in costs for failing to safeguard against such an incident.
HSE inspector Kevin Smith said: “There were a number of failures of health and safety management by BT which related to planning the work, supervision, and checking it was being carried out safely.
“Work at height needs to be properly planned, and this incident could have been prevented.”
Man anchors offer one form of fall protection, and can be useful in locations where edge protection is not an option; instead of putting guardrails in place, they tether the engineer to a fixed point, so he cannot fall far enough to land heavily on the surface below.
Of course when working in an elevated position where the edge is exposed, then guardrails and other such edge protection are a sensible measure – and it makes good sense to have permanent roof rails in place if regular access is needed.
Walkovers can provide safe passage over fragile roofs, such as the one involved in the incident mentioned above, or where there are fragile roof lights that an individual might fall through.
Finally, consider fitting safety ladders for a secure route to elevated positions from the ground, with less risk of losing your grip or your footing and falling backwards away from the rungs.