South Scotland

Gifford firm fined over worker's Oxton farm roof fall

An agricultural building firm has been fined £50,000 after a worker suffered severe injuries after falling through a fragile roof on a Borders farm.

However, David Miller Contracts Ltd from Gifford, East Lothian, has since gone into liquidation, so the fine will not be collectable.

Neil Knox was 69 at the time of the accident at Tollishill Farm, near Oxton, in March 2013.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Jedburgh Sheriff Court heard Mr Knox fractured his spine in two places, broke several ribs, punctured his lung, and had to use a wheelchair as he has no movement in his legs.

He was fixing lights on a farm building when the accident took place.

Company director David Miller had said that due to access difficulties the workers would go on to the roof and use crawling boards.

He said that against instructions Mr Knox had walked over the roof which gave way and he fell about 12ft (3.7m) on to gravel below.

A Health and Safety Executive investigation determined that the best way to have approached the job would have been from below using a platform.

'Catastrophic consequences'

Depute fiscal Lynn Jamieson told a previous hearing there had been a risk assessment but it had been "just general and not site-specific".

She added the case highlighted the dangers of working at height.

Barry Smith QC said the directors of the company were upset at the injuries to their valued colleague.

He added that Mr Knox knew he was not supposed to walk on the roof, saying: "It is not the first case and not the last case where a man of great experience takes a short cut and pays a high price for doing so."

Sheriff Donald McIntyre said it had been a "terrible accident" and there had been "catastrophic consequences" from the fall.

The court was told that a separate civil action by Mr Knox is currently ongoing.

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