Company Fined After Worker Suffers Life-Changing Injuries in Fall

A construction company in Cumbria has been fined following a critical injury sustained by a man who fell 10 meters through the roof of an industrial unit.

On 25th March 2022, Craig Dickson, 39, hailing from Carlisle, suffered multiple serious fractures during the incident at Heathlands Industrial Estate, Kingmoor Park, Carlisle.

CK Steelwork & Cladding Ltd were the contractors responsible for roof work on the premises. The roof’s fragile nature was well-known, and at the time of the incident, safety nets were in the process of being installed beneath the work area, though this task had not been completed.

Despite these precautions, Mr. Dickson was taken onto the roof by a supervisor to assess the job. While traversing an area of the roof that lacked protection from the nets, he stepped onto a weak skylight, which gave way, resulting in a head-first fall of approximately 10 meters onto the concrete floor below.

As a result of the incident, Mr. Dickson sustained extensive fractures to his face, hands, and wrists, losing four teeth and severely damaging his knee. He spent six weeks in intensive care and was wheelchair-bound for five months. Following the accident, he has endured persistent pain, and 17 months later, he remains unable to work, with no prospect of returning to his former profession.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides guidance on working safely at height.

In a victim impact statement, Craig Dickson stated: “The accident broke every bone in my face and knocked out my front four teeth. This has severely impacted my confidence and caused significant anxiety, for which I now require weekly psychiatric treatment. My nose was badly broken, resulting in a loss of my sense of smell and breathing difficulties.

“Before the accident, I led a physically and mentally active lifestyle, attending the gym daily, engaging in fell walking, and enjoying social activities. Now, I am in constant pain, plagued by anxiety, and find it challenging, if not impossible, to partake in activities I once enjoyed.”

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that CK Steelwork & Cladding Ltd, based at Barras Lane Estate, Dalston, Carlisle, had failed to implement adequate precautions to ensure the safety of workers on the roof.

The company admitted guilt in breaching regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. They were fined £16,000 and ordered to pay £4,462.59 in costs during a hearing at Carlisle Magistrates Court on 31st August 2023.

Following the hearing, HSE inspector Michael Griffiths commented: “This was a highly serious incident, and Craig was fortunate not to have lost his life.

“Work on fragile roofs necessitates meticulous planning and control, as the absence of such measures significantly heightens the risk of a potentially fatal fall or one leading to life-altering injuries, as seen in this case.”

This HSE prosecution received support from Jonathan Bambro and Rebecca Forman in HSE’s Legal Services Division.