Courts get tougher on safe working at height

Three separate courts around the country have this week handed down heavy fines to contractors failing to keep employees safe during roof repair work.

Cardiff magistrates ordered Essex-based company to pay more than £65,000 in fines and costs after two workers were spotted on a warehouse roof without adequate safety measures in place.

Grimsby magistrates fined local roofing contractor £53,000 after an employer was smashed up in a roof fall.

And, as we report elsewhere, Kier was fined £200,000 after roof fall from a school in east London, while its subcontractor was hit for £30,000.

In Cardiff this week, magistrates heard how, in August 2015, during repair work on the roof at a Homebase store in Llanishen, an HSE inspector witnessed two workers working on a roof which had unprotected potentially fragile roof lights, without sufficient control measures in place.

Subsequent investigation found that no suitable measures had been taken to protect employees, such as completing the work from the basket of a mobile elevated work platform. Nor had members of the public been protected from falling objects, by closing the store or cordoning off below the work area.

The Essex roofing contractor pleaded guilty to breaching Section 6(3) and 10(2) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was fined £36,666 and ordered to pay costs of £28,856.39.

Meanwhile in Lincolnshire, Grimsby magistrates heard how on 30th September 2016 an employee of a roofing company fell from the roof of a warehouse at an Industrial Estate in Scunthorpe. The man fell six metres on to a solid concrete floor, fracturing vertebrae, shoulder, ankle, and ribs.

HSE’s investigation found that while unsecured boards had been provided to cover nearby roof lights, the company failed to provide any other control measures to prevent falls through the roof while the roof sheets were being replaced.

The roofing company pleaded guilty to breaching both Regulation 4(1) and Regulation 9(2) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was fined £53,000 and ordered to pay £2,465.15 in costs.