Peterhead Sheriff Court has fined an Aberdeen based business £80,000, reduced to £60,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into how a 57 year old Latvian national fell approximately 5 metres from a fragile roof and onto a concrete floor, revealed serious health and safety failings. He died at the scene from severe head injuries.
The Court heard that the worker, newly arrived in the country had been employed to remove asbestos sheets from a roof. Working with his nephew, the man had accessed the roof by using a telehandler but whilst on the roof, it suddenly collapsed.
The HSE reported that the day before the incident occurred the two men met with the company’s managing director to plan the work. However, inadequate communication, supervision and a poor understanding of the English language all led to the fatal accident.
After the case was heard Niall Miller from the HSE stated:
“This tragic incident could have been avoided had the work been planned properly and carried out with the correct equipment.”
“This type of work should ideally be undertaken without the need to directly access the roof, for example by using a Mobile Elevated Working Platform, or, if that is not possible, with safety measures to minimise the risk of falling such as crawling boards, fall arrest harnesses or netting.”
“In addition, an employer needs to arrange suitable training and instruction to ensure that persons working there clearly understand not only what they are expected to do but also how they are expected to do it in order to ensure a safe system of work will be followed.”
“In this case the difficulties arising from the language barrier resulted in fatal consequences.”
“The risks associated with work at height, and fragile roofs in particular, are very well known, and HSE has produced substantial amounts of free advice to assist duty holders to comply with the relevant legislative and regulatory requirements.”
“Falls from height continue to be the most common cause of fatality to workers. In the year 2013/2014 they accounted for 29% of deaths reported to HSE, meaning that 19 workers lost their lives after a fall that year.”
For further information about working safely at heights click here.