Company director from Wetherby fined after young father falls through roof

Photo shows the height of the roof from which Daniel Telford fell, narrowly escaping death. (S)
Photo shows the height of the roof from which Daniel Telford fell, narrowly escaping death. (S)
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A director from Wetherby was fined £3,000 following an investigation for serious safety failings after a young father of two plunged seven metres through an fragile roof.

Michael Spruce, director of Tockwith-based agricultural engineering company Spruce and Hawe Ltd, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and went before Harrogate Magistrates Court after 22-year-old employee Daniel Telford was left with multiple injuries.

When he fell through the roof of a farm in Harrogate, Mr Telford broke his neck and suffered several serious injuries including shattered vertebrae, a collapsed lung, and nerve damage.

His wife was pregnant at the time and he was in hospital for four weeks and had to use a wheelchair for three months after being discharged. Mr Telford cannot return to work.

Daniel, now 23, said: “After I fell I was lying on the floor in horrendous pain. Because of fluid building up in my throat I was shouting for someone to put me in the recovery position. If they hadn’t, I know I could have choked to death.

“Later in hospital, I remember my family coming to see me when I was in resuscitation and can still remember how devastated they all were.

“I also developed hyposensitive skin from the broken neck which meant that the slightest touch, even water or wind on my skin, was painful. It still is, a year later.

“When I came home in a wheelchair, my self-esteem was totally gone as I couldn’t do anything for myself. I felt like a complete wreck. People had to feed me, give me a drink, pass me something to look at as I just couldn’t move my arms or legs.

“I am walking again, although my hip often gives way. I feel it has been a constant battle - so many routine and normal day to day tasks are still a challenge.”

Mr Telford was working on the roof replacing rooflights when the roof-sheet he was standing on gave way. He fell through and hit the concrete floor below.

HSE served an immediate prohibition notice stopping any further work at height until precautions were taken to protect from falls or to mitigate the dangers.

Spruce and Hawe Ltd, of Blind Lane, Tockwith, York, was fined £12,000 after admitting breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Michael Spruce, of Second Avenue, Wetherby, Leeds, was fined £3,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 37 of the same Act in his capacity as a director. Costs of £513 were also imposed.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Julian Franklin who lead the investigation said: “This young man could have been killed by a simple failure to follow well-known systems of work when on a fragile roof. As it is, he sustained severe and multiple injuries that have changed his life.

“A year on, he is struggling to come to terms with the physical and psychological after-effects of this horrendous accident.”