Regulator Makes Example of Building Company After Colleague Falls From Roof
On Valentines Day 2023, the Health and Safety Executive released news of its decision to impose a significant financial sanction in the amount of one hundred and twenty thousand pounds connected to an incident that occurred in a working environment operated by a business specializing in building. During the incident, a member of the workforce sustained a significant fall from a roof and sadly passed away.
What Happened In The Case?
The workforce member was putting an alarm system into some offices whose use was being changed to small residential accommodations. The project was progressing well until matters nosedived when the colleague was moving materials downwards with a cord connecting the roof to a barrier positioned on the floor. However, matters took a dark turn when the structure collapsed to the floor causing injuries.
What Did The Health and Safety Executive Say?
The Regulator assessed the circumstances and commented that the business had
neglected its duty to assess risks
failed to consider the practices for working at height
not provides any Personal Protective Equipment, safety structure, and barriers
to reduce the probability of falls.
Feet to the Fire?
When those representing the business were confronted by the allegations in the Magistrates Court in Wirral it admitted contravening section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 which obliges businesses to protect workforce health, safety, and well-being and to have in-position systems and adhere to legal standards.
With over one-fifth of fatalities in the construction industry being caused by falls from height involving colleagues working on rooftops, legal professionals should be doing more preventative work to mitigate the risks of these tragic incidents from occurring. They have a knock-on effect on the personal lives of persons associated with the injured party and business balance sheets and can cost the wider economy over two million pounds per lost person in future monetary contributions. Not all incidents can be mitigated. However, employers and workforce members should be closely collaborating and following the approach laid down by the HSE if their work involves activities being carried out at height as was the case in the above example. Such persons may not know where to start with implementing such a process to reduce the likelihood of future events of this kind occurring. As a first step, it would be sensible to:
consider every roof to be a brittle structure
approach an independent person to assess the roof’s state of repair
conduct a risk assessment
spot the subtle potential indicators leading to an incident if managed incompetently
review the tools the business uses to carry out the job for defects and
provide the workforce with the skills required to make them competent through oversight, education, and up-skilling.
Persons responsible for the health and safety oversight should establish, operate, maintain, and improve the working environment by adhering to workplace procedures. The Health and Safety Executive suggests some practical suggestions which could be put in place to assist businesses to support members working on roofs including but not limited to:
incorporating measures to prevent falls from roofs
implementing a safety structure aiming to break the fall by a person potentially involved in a fall from a height
adding in some form of stable barrier and
Consider incorporating strong netting with the ability to cope with the weight of a person sustaining a fall.
Following just a few of these measures will mitigate the risk of persons falling from height and reduce the alarming figures.
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THE ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN USING THE FOLLOWING SOURCES
[SOURCE 1] Health and Safety Executive – Company fined £120,000 after dad fell to his death working on roof – 14th February 2023 - Company fined £120,000 after dad fell to his death working on roof | HSE Media Centre
[SOURCE 2] Health and Safety Executive – Roof Work - Construction - Roof work industry health & safety (hse.gov.uk)
[SOURCE 3] Section 2 Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 - Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (legislation.gov.uk)