Unsafe roof work leads to court

A West Midlands engineering firm and a Shropshire roofer have been prosecuted after a member of the public spotted men working unsafely at height.

The concerned passer-by spotted two workers, both men, standing on the pitched roof on the Industrial Estate, without any safety measures to prevent or protect them from a fall.

He took photos of the work on 5 February 2013 and contacted the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which carried out an investigation.

Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday (10 Feb) that the firm had employed the men to overclad its fragile asbestos cement roof with metal sheets. It provided the men with materials and a method statement and also supervised the work.

However, no edge protection or other safety equipment was provided. In order to access the roof the man used a scissor lift, but it did not extend to the full height. So they precariously clambered onto the rails of the lift to cover the remaining distance.

Magistrates were told that although nobody was injured, they were working some, six to eight metres above the ground, and that a fall from that distance could have proved fatal.

The man was fined £3,200 and ordered to pay costs of £4,771 after pleading guilty to breaching regulation 4(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

The company, was fined £6,400 and ordered to pay costs of £9,453 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the same regulations.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector  said:

“As the client, they should have ensured the roof work was properly planned, appropriately supervised and, above all, safe. The client should have taken suitable measures to prevent falls but instead allowed his sons to be put at risk.”

Falls from height are responsible for around a third of workplace deaths every year, with 25 people losing their lives in 2012/13. For further information, go to http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-at-height/index.htm