A roofer has been prosecuted for unsafe work at height even though no fall occurred.
The roofer was fined for putting his sons lives at risk while working at height. The prosecution came about after a concerned passer-by saw the two sons standing on the pitched roof of an engineering firm's building on and industrial estate without any safety measures to prevent or protect them from a fall. The passer-by took photographs of the work and sent them to the HSE, which investigated the incident.
Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court heard that the engineering firm employed the roofer to overclad its fragile asbestos cement roof with metal sheets. It provided the roofer with materials and a method statement and also supervised the work, but no edge protection or other safety equipment was provided. The two sons accessed the roof via a scissor lift, but it did not extend to the full height so they climbed 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 roofer 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 while the engineering firm was fined £6,400 and ordered to pay costs of £9,453 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the same regulations.
Following the hearing the HSE Inspector commented that as the client the engineering firm “should have ensured the roof work was properly planned, appropriately supervised and, above all, safe.” He went on to say that the roofer “should have taken suitable measures to prevent falls but instead allowed his sons to be put at risk.”