£120k Fine Following Fatal Roof Fall
16th March 2023
A West Yorkshire based company was fined £120,000 in February following a fatal 2021 incident that saw a worker fall from the roof of a building site.
The incident saw the worker and his co-worker using ropes to install lighting protection systems to a building in Warrington that was in the process of being turned into flats. The victim was lowering access equipment from the roof using a rope that had been attached to a frame at roof-level and a handrail at ground rail, when both the frame and the worker fell to the ground, where he tragically died.
Following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) it was found that the victim’s employer had failed to appropriately assess the risks associated with the work at height, ‘giving little consideration to the work at height hierarchy of control and opting for personal protection measures over more suitable collection protection measures’ (e.g. scaffolding or a mobile elevating work platform).
Furthermore, it was found that the company had failed to plan for ensuring rope access equipment was taken on and off the roof safely, nor had they provided instructions to operatives on site.
The case was heard at Wirral Magistrates’ Court in early February, where the company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, before ultimately being fined £120k as well as £5448.51 in costs.
Two further companies will appear before Liverpool Crown Court later this year in relation to this incident after pleading not guilty.
This tragic incident highlights the importance of adhering to safe work at height and roofing practices on site at all times. Speaking following the hearing, HSE Inspector, Sara Andrews stated:
“This incident could easily have been avoided by better planning of the work to ensure adequate controls were in place to prevent falls from the roof. Whilst rope access techniques are appropriate in some circumstances, they should only be used if more appropriate measures, such as fixed scaffolding, cannot be.
Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”