Man fractured spine after falling head first through sky light

Norton Grounds Farm, Norton Road.
Norton Grounds Farm, Norton Road.

An electrician broke his back after falling head first through a sky light while installing solar panels at a Northamptonshire farm, a court heard.

Christopher Morris, now aged 22, fell six metres through a barn while working at Ashby Farm, near Daventry, in November 2011, fracturing his lower spine in “multiple places”.

Northampton Crown Court was told Alternative Energy Installations had ignored health and safety regulations after being sub-contracted to install solar panels on a barn at the farm, in Norton Grounds.

The firm, which has since been liquidated, was found guilty of failing to ensure the safety of employees working at the farm.

The court heard how the installations team was asked to work without a safety net and without harnesses, despite the fact the roof was “fragile”. Sky lights in the roof were left uncovered, the court heard, and when the firm’s director was asked if workers could have harnesses, he responded: “What the **** do you need those for?”

Workers had not been shown health and safety documents, it was said.

The Health and Safety Executive found the work had not been properly planned and had been carried out in a way that was not safe.

Mr Morris, from Woolston, near Warrington, Lancashire, has been unable to work since the accident and has suffered constant pain and depression since the incident.

Last Thursday, he told the court how he had started laying lengths of cabling on the roof before the accident.

Recalling the incident, Mr Morris said he had initially tried to stand up after the fall but was later airlifted to hospital.

He was kept in hospital for four weeks and wore a brace for six months.

Mr Morris said he had suffered from depression, body dysmorphia and was diagnosed with post traumatic shock disorder.

He told the jury: “I turned into a completely different person.”

The following day nets were installed at the site.

Alternative Energy Installations, which is now registered with Hodgsons Accountants of Park Road, Timperley, Cheshire, will be sentenced later this month alongside the company’s technical director, Ian Black, of Denbigh, Wales.

Black had earlier pleaded guilty to the charge.