The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has successfully prosecuted two separate companies after a roofer fell approximately eight meters to his death.
A HSE investigation into the incident which occurred in May 2012 Tottenham, North London, revealed serious safety breaches.
The two companies, a Leeds based national timber firm and a Kent based roofing company were sentenced by Southwark Crown Court after hearing that a 44 year old labourer fell through a fragile roof light.
The HSE told the court that the timber company had employed the roofing firm to fix a leaking roof. They had failed to risk assess the job and had not checked the competency of the firm to safely complete the work.
The roofer failed to risk assess or plan the work. Additionally, an incorrectly erected scaffold without a platform or rails and an untied ladder was used to carry out the work.
The court fined the timber firm £93,750 and ordered to pay full costs of £12,580 after admitting breaching Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
The roofer was sentenced to four months in prison suspended for 12 months and fined £3,000 with £11,756 in full costs after admitting breaching the same act.
After the case was heard, HSE Inspector Chris Tilley said:
“Falls through fragile roofs are sadly all too common but this tragic incident could have been avoided if adequate checks had been carried out on the contractor’s competence, the work been planned properly and carried out with the correct equipment.”
“The dangers of working at height are well-known in the construction industry and guidance is widely available. The work here should ideally have been 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 or netting, crawling boards and fall arrest harnesses.”
“Falls from height continue to be the most common cause of fatality to workers and accounted for 29% of deaths reported to HSE in 2013/14 – meaning that 19 workers lost their lives in falls that were avoidable.”
For further information on working safely at heights click here.