UK Worker killed in 50ft fall through fragile roof

An incident that occurred in the UK can serve as an example to construction workers in Oz. A worker died after falling from a height after attempting to clean a fragile roof. The employer did not properly assess the risks involved with the work and also did not provide workers with a safe work environment or system of work.

This post on details the incident:

The boss of a maintenance contractor has been fined after one of his employees fell to his death through the fragile roof of a Fife warehouse.


Boyd Lamont from Buckhaven, Fife, was fined a total of £20,000 at Dunfermline Sheriff Court following the death of Thomas Sturrock on 29 September 2008.


Sturrock, and a number of other men, were employed by Boyd Lamont – a self-employed contractor then trading as ‘Special Access Inspection’.


The men were working at height to clean the fragile roof of the warehouse of Tullis Russell Papermaker Ltd in Markinch, Fife.


Lamont failed to properly assess the risks associated with the work, and failed to provide his men with appropriate safety equipment like crawling boards.


Sturrock was walking on the roof when he fell through it and dropped 14.5 metres to the concrete floor below.  He died of his injuries at the scene.


Following a lengthy trial at Dunfermline Sheriff Court, Boyd Lamont pleaded guilty to safety breaches.


Following the case, Elaine Taylor, Head of the COPFS Health and Safety Division, said: “This tragic death could have been avoided if Boyd Lamont had properly assessed the risks associated with the work on the roof, and ensured that his men had were properly trained, resourced and equipped to carry out this work safely.



A lack of safety measures can often result in worker injury and death as it did in this case. A hazard identification and risk assessment should have been done even before work on the site began. A safety strategy should have been implemented thereafter which provided proper fall protection for workers, however this is not the case and Thomas Sturrock paid with his life for this negligence.

When working from a rooftop or any height workers need to be cautious. Australianregulation requires an approved safety system should be implemented, including guardrails, scaffolding and fall protection. If these measures do not sufficiently reduce the risk workers should be equipped with proper safety harnesses.

Falls from heights are an all too common threat to construction workers and so needs to be managed accordingly.

Even falls from relatively low height have the ability to cause very serious injuries, including fractures, spinal cord injury, concussions and brain damage. Management of the risks can significantly reduce the number of deaths caused by falling.

  • Step 1: Identify the hazards: This could include for example: Working on a slippery or unstable surface or an elevated level.
  • Step 2: Assess the risk by taking the following elements into account:

– Height at which the task is being performed

– Condition of the supporting surface

– Amount of experience the worker involved has

– Weather conditions of outdoor sites

– The duration of the task

  • Step 3: Control the risk:  Fall protection measures should be developed to suit the particular task and the severity of the risk. In developing emergency procedures, the different types of emergency and rescue scenarios that might arise should be considered.

Attempt to eliminate the hazard. Working on the ground is the most effective method of protecting workers from fall hazards. This is not always possible, so the hazard has to be managed.

Substitute the work with a safer work surface. Use temporary work platforms such as properly erected scaffolds or elevated work platforms. Isolate the hazard by using physical barriers to protect workers from falls.

Adopt engineering controls. Use “work positioning” systems that will position and safely support a worker at the location where the task is to be performed.