An asbestos removal firm has been hit with a heavy fine after one of its workers was severely injured when he fell through a roof.
Elgin company NJS Scotland admitted failing to provide a safe working environment for the employee who plummeted through a garage roof in Inverurie while carrying out replacement work in 2017.
The company, which recently filed for voluntary liquidation, pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to ensure proper safety planning and supervision was carried out.
It was punished with an £8,000 fine at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.
Firm provided no fall protection
Fiscal depute Ross Canning told the court that the NJS employee fell through the roof after he lost his balance shortly after cutting some of the roof bolts.
As a result of the fall, the worker suffered a vertebrae fracture on his back and has been unable to work since 2019.
Mr Canning added: “There was a risk of falling through the cement sheets or off the roof edges because the team had access ladders and no other work at height equipment to use on site.
“The action of cutting the heads of the bolts meant that the metal and cement sheets were no longer adequately fixed to the roof structure.
“When the injured party walked on the loose metal top sheets it made them vulnerable to movement and thereby increased the risk of falls.
“No fall protection was provided by the accused to prevent such falls – all that was provided was step ladders.”
‘Stability of roof had already been compromised’
Sheriff Valerie Johnston told the court she had considered the level of culpability in relation to NJS and what safety precautions the firm had put in place.
She said: “I accept what has been stated and said by the health and safety inspector who said that this incident was perhaps caused by complacency and that the staff and the company were very experienced – that plan for working at height is perhaps more understandable when you consider the garage premises that were involved.
“However, an injury was sustained and I accept that the culpability is at the lower end of the spectrum.
“It was an isolated incident, but it was also a very experienced company. There was no harm to members of the public in this situation, but there was a clear risk of harm on a flat roof where the stability of the roof had already been compromised before the employee had went on to it.
“I’m aware that the fine must be proportionate to the means of the accused company and I note the serious short term and the long term injuries that have been sustained by the employee and that a financial claim has been settled.”
Sheriff Johnstone fined NJS Scotland £12,000 reduced to £8,000 due to the firm pleading guilty at the first opportunity.