Crown Court Conviction For Roofing Professional After Colleague Plummets From Roof

In April 2023 the Crown Court located in Harrow made an example of a business proprietor specializing in commercial property repairs following an incident that occurred at a property whereby a member of the workforce sustained a fall from the upper section of the building resulting in him plummeting to the ground and suffering bodily damage. The circumstances were distressing as the damage inflicted when he collided with the ground was so severe that he passed on.    

What Happened In The Case?

The member of the workforce was carrying out his day-to-day activities on the upper section of the building which was being utilised for commercial purposes. He had been working for all intents and purpose alongside one of his colleagues and both members of staff appeared to have been positioned at the back of the building. The business had tasked his colleague with moving several construction products from the upper section of the building which had a level surface and the member of the workforce at the center of proceedings was charged with the activity of fixing the roof and appeared to have been able to access the higher level surface area via a ladder. The job was progressing until matters went downhill quickly when the colleague suddenly and without warning sustained a fall during which he appears to have plummeted a staggering distance of approximately five meters into a back street. 
As a result of the fall to the ground, the member of the workforce suffered bodily damage to his head and a broken neck. The medical experts did all they reasonably could to assist. They sent a flying ambulance to the Paddington-based hospital where he could be provided with diagnosis, care, and treatment. However, despite the best efforts of the medical professionals he did not make a recovery and succumbed to the bodily damage.       

What Did The Health and Safety Executive Say?

When the HSE examined what had taken place during the incident by way of its probe it found very little by way of evidence tending to suggest the employer had acted in compliance with its legal duties to mitigate the risk of accidents taking place involving the plummeting of workplace colleagues to the ground positioned below. The commercial property maintenance business had seemingly neglected to implement any form of safety measure to reduce the likelihood of similar foreseeable events from taking place such as scaffolding. The regulatory authorities also commented that both the incident and the injuries sustained by the member of the workforce were avoidable if the work-related activity had been planned sufficiently and a full analysis had been carried out in connection with the risks associated both before the project started and on an ongoing basis.   

Feet to the Fire?

On hearing the allegations submitted against him in open court in April 2023 the proprietor of the business held his hands up to the allegations and entered admitted to violating the requirements regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 which oblige businesses employing members of the workforce to reduce the likelihood of accidents occurring involving such persons sustaining bodily damage when they plummet to the ground whilst they are working at height.     

Lessons Learned? 

To limit the probability of similar cases happening in the future commercial property repair businesses need to be reflecting on this case carefully and take the following mitigation action: 

  • limit the likelihood of colleagues plummeting from a height
  • ensuring the projects are planned effectively
  • analyzing the likelihood of such incidents occurring and
  • consider providing scaffolding.

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