A manufacturer of industrial racking systems has been fined after the death of a worker who fell through a roof skylight at its Somerset factory.

At Taunton Crown Court last week, Cooper B-Line was fined £210,000 plus costs of £36,493 over the death of maintenance work Samuel Maxwell, 46.

As a maintenance worker, Maxwell had permission to go onto the factory’s extensive roofs for various tasks. The court heard that he did so regularly, without adequate safety measures being in place.

On 17 May 2013, colleagues below heard a crash, discovering that Maxwell had fallen through a skylight onto the concrete floor of the rack assembly area seven metres below. He died shortly after the fall.

The HSE found that management at Cooper B-Line, also known as CBL, failed to appreciate the risks to their maintenance workers when working on the roofs.

They had carried out an inadequate generic risk assessment, which failed to identify the risks and control these to an acceptable level.

HSE Inspector Annette Walker said: “The senior management of companies must learn from this tragic case that they need to take the health and safety of their workers seriously. In this case a confusing system of work had developed and unintentionally encouraged dangerous methods.

“Falls from height continue to account for a significant proportion of all workplace deaths and serious injuries. Falls through fragile roofs and skylights sadly happen all too often. Businesses should ensure that all roof work including routine maintenance is properly planned and carried out safely.”

Remember risk assessments need to cover site specific hazards and risks and reduce the risk of harm to an acceptable level. Far too often we see Generic Risk Assessments that do not manage the real risks.