Yorkshire Business Convicted After Colleague Falls Through Upper Section Of Building

In May 2023 a Bradford business was sanctioned by the Health and Safety Executive as the Crown Court in Leeds imposed a criminal conviction and accompanying sentence punishing it for contraventions of Health and Safety laws. 

What Happened In The Case?

The colleague had been carrying out his day-to-day working duties on the upper section of the building. However, unbeknown to him he was vulnerable to plummeting without warning. Sadly the inevitable happened and his fall was broken by some industrial pallets positioned approximately ten meters below. The colleague did not escape Scott-free and sustained serious bodily harm in the form of fractured ribs, the lower-section of his arm, hip and atelectasis of the lung.  
The authorities took the matter seriously because of the circumstances which had taken place within the workplace, whereby a member of the workforce appears to have meters through the vulnerable section of the upper part of a building and ended up on pallets positioned immediately below. The Crown Court judge appears to have taken a dim view of the conduct of the business and handed down a thirty-six-week financial sanction in the amount of two and a half thousand pounds given the violations of health and safety regulations of the person responsible. It must have been his lucky day as the custodial term was suspended for twenty-four months. The seeming good news appears to have been short-lived as he was ordered to carry out one hundred and fifty hours of unrecompensed work-related activities to repay his debt to society.  

What Did The Health and Safety Executive Say?

Over time industry regulator the Health and Safety Executive became aware of the incident. If uncovered evidence appeared to suggest that this was not an isolated incident. The person responsible was aware of issues affecting the upper section of the building and had carried out remedial work on numerous occasions. The state of the roof was in such disrepair that the person responsible recognized the need for further work to be carried out at the working premises. However, despite such efforts to get the upper section of the building to the required legal standards, there was little which indicated that they had carried out any form of: 
-    assessment as to risk conducted at the site
-    no thought had seemingly been given to how the roof area could be accessed safely and
-    measures in position to reduce the likelihood of such falls occurring.    

Feet to the Fire?

The Leeds Crown Court was keen to make an example of the business and deter other businesses from operating in such a cavalier manner by leaving members of the workforce hostage to fortune by imposing a criminal conviction in connection with violations of section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This piece of legislation places legal obligations on self-employed persons carrying out work-related activities to mitigate the risk of persons being left wide open to risks from a health and safety perspective.    

Lessons Learned? 

Businesses with colleagues operating in the vicinity of vulnerable roofing need to be reducing the risk of such persons plummeting to the ground by: 
-    assessing the risk of such incidents occurring
-    implementing preventative mechanisms and 
-    installing safety features such as nets, barricades, and stages.    
If you have experienced something similar, or have an opposing viewpoint, please kindly leave a comment on the article or contact us.   
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