Company fined over employee’s roof fall

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A SIGN-MAKING firm has been fined thousands of pounds after an employee fell 25ft through a skylight in a store roof.

Chris Heatlie suffered severe bruising after plunging through the window and landing on the shop floor of the Remnant Kings warehouse in Seafield, Edinburgh.

The 23-year-old would have been more seriously injured had he not struck a water tank and a solid ledge on the way down.

He was treated at the scene by paramedics and hospitalised overnight and although he suffered severe bruising, he had no broken bones.

Yesterday, at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, his employer, Forrest Hepburn & McDonald Signs, pleaded guilty to a breach of work at height regulations as a result of the accident in October 2009.

It was fined £6500 following an investigation by the city council’s environmental health service department.

The Newington-based firm admitted the removal of a sign from the roof was not properly supervised and that its employee had been exposed to the risk of a fall. The firm was in breach of Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Remnant Kings was not blamed for the accident.

Forrest Hepburn & McDonald had been contracted to replace signs at the warehouse when Mr Heatlie fell. It is understood he still works for the firm.

The city council said it hoped the conviction sent a message to other businesses that breaches of working regulations could lead to criminal convictions. Councillor Robert Aldridge, the city’s environment leader, said the accident could have led to Mr Heatlie being far more seriously injured.

He said: “Falls from height are the main cause of deaths at work and also result in thousands of major injuries in the workplace each year. Employers must ensure working at height is suitably risk-assessed and that safe working practices are established and followed. The company co-operated with our inspectors’ investigation and has significantly improved its management of health and safety since this accident.”

Health and safety legislation is enforced by either local councils or the Health and Safety Executive, depending on the premises and work activity. The council is responsible for shops, catering establishments, offices, hotels, residential care homes, leisure and entertainment facilities.

No-one from Forrest Hepburn and McDonald Signs was available to comment.