A couple of local contractors carrying out roof replacements on a building at Valley Mills, Millgate in Oldham have been sentenced and fined after an investigation found that they put their workers at risk during a height job.
A sub-contractor was employed to replace a northern light roof structure with a modern composite roof, which meant that employees from two different companies were working alongside each other. Concerns were voiced to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that men were working on the roof without anything in place to prevent them from falling through the roof onto other employees below, or from falling off the edge.
The HSE investigation into the incident confirmed that the working conditions were indeed hazardous, with employees from both companies put at risk. The roof itself was made up of fragile skylights that hadn’t been covered so as to prevent people from walking on them and falling through to the ground below. Those working on the ground floor were also at risk from dropped objects (i.e. tools and debris) from the roof.
“[The companies] failed in their duties to protect the roof workers and anyone working below them in the mill from a foreseeable risk of serious harm. The risks to workers here were obvious, and neither company thought it necessary to manage the work at height risks properly,” HSE Inspector, Matt Greenly commented.
Both companies were fined £66,000 each, and each ordered to pay £3,938.38 in costs. The sub-contractor was fined the same because it had a duty to protect its members of staff and anyone else affected by the work being carried out. The HSE noted that by allowing workers onto the site without having carried out the relevant risk assessments, or from ensuring that physical safeguards were in place to prevent a fall from height, the company in question put its own workers at risk.
Of course, you can do all the appropriate planning and ensure that your members of staff are properly trained, and incidents can still occur. You must make sure that you impress upon all your workers the importance of behaving in a responsible manner while on a building site – or they could risk losing their job.
We’ve just seen this article in the Manchester Evening News regarding a 25-year-old individual who decided to balance almost 90ft up in the air on some scaffolding without any personal protective equipment in place. Office workers nearby took photos of him on the scaffolding and sent it to the HSE, with inspectors arriving to question the person in question.
Consequently, he was sentenced to six months in prison (suspended for 18 months) and given a fine of £1,400, with costs of £2,939.18 and a victim surcharge of £85. There is little doubt that both employers and employees can make a positive contribution towards the implementation of safe working procedures.