The Lundy Company fined after worker fell through roof

Lundy Island. Picture: Sarah Howells

Lundy Island. Picture: Sarah Howells - Credit: Archant

The Lundy Company has been fined £30,000 for safety failings after a worker was seriously injured when falling through a roof.

The company which runs Lundy Island has been fined £30,000 for safety failings that led to a roofing worker falling through an eleven-foot high skylight.

Roofer Steven Elliott was removing an asbestos roof on a lambing shed on the island off North Devon when he suffered a broken shoulder, a head injury, a partially collapsed lung and three broken ribs.

He spent three days in hospital after being airlifted off the island by a rescue helicopters, was off work for 18 months and has been forced to give up his hobby of rock climbing

The Lundy Company hired a contractor from Cornwall to do the work without checking it would be carried out safely and scaffolding towers were not used, even thought they were available.

Mr Elliott was fitting crawling boards to enable him to work on the roof when he fell through 3.5 metres through a perspex skylight.

The Lundy Company, which is owned by Lundy owners the Landmark Trust, admitted failing to ensure a safe method of working.

Most Read

Justin Ford, aged 63, of Carnyorth Terrace, St Just, admitted failing to ensure the safety of work at height.

The company was fined £30,000 with £4,800 costs and Mr Ford was jailed for six months, suspended for a year, with costs of £2,500 by Recorder Mr Andrew Oldland, QC, at Exeter Crown Court.

He said:”There was clearly a failure of adequate supervision and monitoring by the company.

“Working at height is a very, very, well known risk in the industry and the company and Mr Ford had a responsibility to ensure safe working.

“It was completely obvious that suitable means of preventing a fall through the skylight should have been in place and were not.”

Mr David Sapiecha, prosecuting, said the company had used Mr Ford previously and hired him to organise the work on the roof in August 2015.

The shed was at the top of the island and highly exposed to the elements.

Mr Ford was self employed and the company paid Mr Elliott and three others to do the job under his supervision. They all camped on the island while working on the shed.

The accident happened on the third day of the project at 11.30am on Tuesday August 11, 2015, when Mr Elliott was placing crawling boards over the roof and fell 3.5 metres onto a concrete floor.

Mr Sapiecha said a safety net should have been in place beneath the skylight and there should have been a cover protecting it. Dirt had built up over the skylight so it looked the same as the rest of the roof.

He said:”There were clear and obvious risks. There should have been edge protection and catch nets and something to prevent a fall through a clearly fragile area.

“We say the Lundy Island company did not foresee the danger or take precautions and appeared to delegate these to Mr Ford without clearly defined roles or checking if he was qualified to take on that responsibility.

“There was an obvious risk which could have been easily have been rectified and they failed to deal with it in a number of ways. This was a 3.5 metre roof which went up to 6 metres.

“There was a real risk of death or serious injury and a high likelihood of harm which should have been obvious in the circumstances.”

Mr Ian Dixey, for the company, said they had no experience of construction work but have now spent £30,000 on a full health and safety risk assessment. They have already paid £7,298 to the HSE in investigation fees

He said the company is non profit making and the purpose of the Landmark Trust is to support conservation.

A large fine would affect them at a time when they are already facing the threat that the ship which supplies Lundy is coming to the end of its life in the next few years.

Mr Mark Harris, for Mr Ford, said he was not a proper roofing contractor and had no proper safety training. He took on the job because he was interested in Lundy and asked friends to join him.

He said he has given up roofing work as a result of this accident and is currently working out of the back of a van in London.

He has also lost the friendship of Mr Elliott, who has not spoken to him since being injured.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter