Facilities &Cleaning company MB Facilities Ltd were fined yesterday when one of their employees fell through a plastic skylight whilst cleaning the gutters on a stable roof. Luckily his 6 metre fall was onto the soft surface of the riding arena below or his injuries could have been far more serious.
We always discuss gutter cleaning and high level maintenance with our clients who own property. It is extremely important to treat all skylights as fragile surfaces as these cases are unfortunately all too common. You should treat skylights as if they are open drops unless you know they are capable of taking the weight of a person falling onto them and this has been confirmed by an expert. The best way to undertake this work would have been from a cherry picker as this would have avoided the need for the worker to actually be on the roof. If this is not possible skylights should be covered and if they are in areas where other plant or equipment has to be accessed they should either be protected with edge protection or covered with steel grids.
If you are commissioning this work be sure to discuss how it will be undertaken with your contractor and agree how they will work safely. As a minimum request risk and method statements, confirmation of their employee competency and their insurance documentation. Discuss the work with them and only use competent people with the skills, knowledge and experience to work for you safely.
For further information go to the HSE website and look at their section on falls from height, follow this link for more details on this case http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2012/rnn-se-19112.htm or contact us.