School prosecuted for roof fall

A school in Brentwood has been fined £40,000 with costs after a maintenance worker fell about 2.6m from a roof while carrying out repair work on a window.

The worker was part of a maintenance team at the school which was replacing components on a bay window of a residential flat in the school grounds. The employee used a ladder to access the roof but caught his foot and fell to the ground below, breaking his collarbone, fracturing his shoulder and injuring five vertebrae.

The HSE investigation found that there were no effective guardrails or any other means of protection to protect workers and prevent them from falling from the roof.  In addition the work was not supervised and carried out in a safe manner.

During the hearing the Judge commented that although the school took safety seriously and had procedures in place, “it became clear that the manual was never used, the risk assessments were not referred to, the questions on the work request form were ignored.”  These were all known to the maintenance manager who was responsible for the health and safety at the time, but he failed to ensure the systems were implemented and followed and that the safety check list on the repair form was completed.

The Estates Bursar for the school explained that “despite training staff, they are left to devise systems of work without supervision or direction from line management.  Because workers are experienced it's not thought close supervision was required.”

Companies have a duty under the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to ensure the health and safety of employees and any contractor who carries out work on their behalf. When it comes to work at height, all work should be thoroughly assessed and those carrying out the work must follow correct procedures and be sufficiently supervised and trained in order to carry out the work safely.

For further information on how you can ensure work is carried out safely, please read our Blog Safe Maintenance and Roofwork.

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