Height of stupidity lands trio £400k fine

The dangers of working on roofs are well known. Too many workers are killed or seriously injured in incidents involving working on roofs every year.

The HSE stress that work at height requires adequate planning, organisation and communication between all parties.

But it seems three companies never got the message as they’ve been fined almost half a million pounds after a worker plunged 25ft from an unguarded roof he was replacing.

He hurt his head and back but luckily his injuries were not life-threatening.

The court heard workers were replacing a “fragile” old roof that potentially contained asbestos. The victim fell through the roof when asbestos sheeting gave way. There was no safety netting or other protective equipment to prevent the fall.

Proper safety measures needed

An investigation by the HSE found three firms at fault.

Ernest Doe & Sons had been asked to help replace a customer’s warehouse roof. But Ernest Doe was an agricultural and construction machinery supplier and not a building contractor. It subcontracted the work to Balsham Buildings. Balsham then planned how the roof should be replaced before subcontracting the actual work to Strong Clad.

With no experience, Ernest Doe was unable to really act as principal contractor. It couldn’t effectively oversee Balsham’s plans – which had identified the risk of a fall.

Only 40% of the roof had netting below. The HSE said the firms relied too much on verbal briefings reminding workers where netting was, rather than putting in place effective safety measures for the whole roof.

Sentence

Balsham (Buildings) Ltd admitted failing to properly plan how employees should work on roofs under the Work at Height Regulation 2005. It was fined £45,000 with £7,000 in costs.

Strong Clad Ltd also owned up to breaking the Work at Height Regulation 2005. It was fined £7,000 with £3,000 costs.

Principle contractor Ernest Doe & Sons Ltd admitted failing to plan, monitor or manage the work under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. It was fined £360,000 and ordered to pay £10,000 costs.

The judge said Ernest Doe had overstretched itself and gone into an arena in which it had no experience. The companies were told there should have been more talk about how workers would carry out the work. Plans were described as “on the hoof” and “ad hoc”.

The judge added companies must understand they should only start work if confident they can do so safely.

ONLINE TRAINING | IOSH Safety for Executives and Directors

Looking to improve your understanding of health and safety, demonstrate your commitment to employee wellbeing, and protect your business from prosecution? Learn essential skills in effective risk management, including how to create a COVID-secure workplace, with this one-day course for business owners, senior managers and directors.

29 September 2020 | 09:00 – 16:30

Director of Health & Safety Services

Nick Wilson

Health and safety should be a priority for any business but ensuring compliance can often feel like a daunting task. We’re here to help you turn complex regulations into sensible, proportionate controls.

Our live Client satisfaction rating is currently:

Last Updated:

Urgent Issue?

Why not take a look through our library of carefully created Health & Safety documents and templates to see if we have what you need?

Let's start talking on 0345 226 8393 or complete the form below.

More From EW

Get your FREE download

We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Combating coronavirus | FREE advice and resources for employers

Our Coronavirus Advice Hub is open now. Get instant access to regularly updated guidance, sample policies, template risk assessments and more.
 
Click to explore what’s available.

Get your FREE download

We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Get your FREE download

We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Hi, how can we help?
Click the button below to chat to an expert.

Is Your Business Based in Scotland?

Go straight to our free sector-specific Risk Assessment Templates for Scottish organisations…
 
Click to explore what’s available.
Error: Embedded data could not be displayed.
Read our Privacy Policy.