Company Fined £20k After Chimney Sweep Falls From Height

A company was fined £20,000 on November 5th after an employee was seriously injured in a fall from height.

The accident occurred on June 20th 2011, when Dylan Skelhorn, 32, was sweeping the chimney of a two-story Falkirk residence while employed by D Henderson Chimney Specialists and Roofers Limited.

Mr Skelhorn fell down the building’s pitched roof, dropping five metres to the garden. He suffered a fractured pelvis, a collapsed lung and two rib fractures, requiring five days of hospitalisation and ongoing pain relief and physiotherapy. He now needs to use crutches, is in chronic pain and has yet been unable to go back to work, despite over two years passing since the accident.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the company had not put any measures in place to prevent its employees from falling from the building’s roof, had not undertaken a suitable risk assessment, had not set up safe working systems for chimney sweeping and had not provided enough training. Furthermore, the chimney could actually have been cleaned effectively from inside the house, but the company had not even considered this. The firm admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

HSE inspector Kerry Elliot said the workplace accident was “entirely preventable”, noting that the biggest cause of injury and death in the UK’s workplace is falls from height.

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