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Posted by David Cant on July 1, 2013
Safety at Height
“To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.” I was recently reminded of Oscar Wilde’s words when reading the latest news stories and reports from the world of health and safety. It seems that for one Monmouth based roofing firm it is more a matter of, ‘to lose one employee off a roof may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness.’
Carelessness indeed, because Newlook Roof Coatings Ltd, the roofing firm in question, has just been fined £11,500 with costs of £6,737 for the second time in recent months. One would have thought that after the first incident they would have learned lessons and implemented different strategies for safeguarding the welfare of their employees.
Roofing Firm’s Double Safety Breach
Back in 2011 a 26 year old employee fell from the roof of a house whilst working on it. He fell six metres to the ground, the only fortunate part of which was that he landed in a bush, which meant that he only sustained a fractured wrist, cuts and bruises. After a six week period of time off work he returned to carry on.
One would have assumed that following that incident the firm would have made sure that the safety of employees and the use of ladders was improved, but just a few months later in 2012 a complaint was received by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) about the unsafe practices being employed by the roofing firm.
Newlook Roof Coatings Ltd were still sending employees up onto roofs with not only unsecured ladders but also no scaffolding around the outside of the building to prevent them falling off the roof.
The Importance Of Roof Safety Measures
Clearly when it comes to health and safety it is imperative that staff working high up, such as on roofs, are suitably protected. Since most roofs in question are sloping and uneven, and with employees being exposed to slippery surfaces in rain, and gusts of wind, there is every chance of an accident occurring. Secured ladders and scaffolding are the most basic of approaches necessary.
It was only a few weeks ago that a Merseyside roofing company, Aston Roofing North West Ltd, were hauled in to Mold Magistrates’ Court for a similar breach of health and safety. An off-duty HSE inspector noticed that employees were working on a roof without any safety measures at all. A prohibition notice was immediately served on the company and they were later fined £1,000.
More recently, on June 14th, a Tyneside worker was paralysed for life from the neck down after falling from the roof of a warehouse. One of the company’s supervisors allowed workers to go up on to the roof to collect cement sheets without any regard for the company’s safety policy.
Unfortunately the employee trod on a fragile skylight which gave way, causing him to fall ten metres to the hard concrete floor below. The supervisor responsible, Paul Burke, was found guilty of breaching Regulation 4(1)(b) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9,765.88. Of course, the employee and his family now have life changing circumstances to deal with.
If you are in any doubt as to the best way to protect employees from accidents or injuries caused by working on roofs or at an elevated position then call on our Health and Safety advisors today on 0800 1488 677 and they will be happy to offer advice, recommendations or arrange a site visit.
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