Solar panel firm fined after worker falls through roof

A Glasgow-based firm specialising in solar panel installation has been fined £153,000 after a worker was seriously injured falling through a fragile roof light at a private home in Kent.

P V Solar UK Limited was sentenced after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident, which occurred on 30 April 2013 in Hawkinge.

If your business employs people to work in potentially dangerous environments, it is your responsibility to ensure their safety at all times. As well as having good health and safety policies in place, your business should also consider employers’ liability insurance in addition to the required general business insurance.

The employee was working as part of a three-man team tasked with repairing a series of faulty solar panels that were originally installed by the same company in April 2011.

While carrying a panel on the roof of a pool building, the worker fell through a fragile roof light and hit the side and bottom of the pool, fracturing his shin and a vertebra. While safety equipment had been provided, the HSE found that no formal training had been provided.

The employee was only able to return to work on a part-time basis in January 2016.

P V Solar Limited was sentenced for three health and safety breaches, to which it pleaded guilty, at Canterbury Crown Court. The firm was fined £153,000 and ordered to pay court costs of £29,480.

Melvyn Stancliffe, a HSE Inspector, said of the case: “The injured worker suffered serious injury in the fall and could have been killed. He and his colleagues were effectively left to their own devices with equipment that was not wholly suited for the task at hand. In short, better equipment, training and supervision should have been provided.

“Working on or near a fragile roof or materials is not a task to be undertaken without proper planning, and without having the appropriate safety measures in place at all times. There is considerable free guidance available from the HSE regarding the precautions needed when working at height, including on or near fragile roof coverings.”