Fatal fall results in fine for solar panel company

Published:  30 January, 2015

A solar panel installation company based in Preston has been fined over the death of one of its workers, after he fell through a cowshed roof.

Gregorz Sobko had been working for Eco Generation Ltd on the aforementioned roof when one of the clear plastic panels, designed to let in light, gave way. The 34-year-old fell 5m to the concrete floor below and died in hospital 10 days later.

Preston Crown Court heard today (30 January) that the company had been hired to fit solar panels to the flat roof on the cowshed, and that each worker had only been given two wooden planks to stand on while they worked, despite there being dozens of fragile plastic panels on the roof.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive found that the company had installed netting under some of the panels as a protective measure, but not under the one Mr Sobko fell through.

Eco Generation of Watkin Lane in Lostock Hall was fined £45,000 and ordered to pay £20,515 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Chris Smith said: “Gregorz tragically lost his life because his employer failed to make sure basic safety measures were in place to protect workers.

“The risk of people falling through fragile roofs is well known, and the fact that Eco Generation installed netting under a small part of the roof shows the company was aware of the dangers. However, this didn’t even come close to what was needed to protect the workers.

“The youngmans boards provided were entirely unsuitable, and instead a proper working platform or safety barriers should have been erected on the roof.

“It is vital firms carrying out work on roofs take the risks seriously and put measures in place to protect their employees, otherwise we will continue to see the needless deaths of workers like Gregorz.”