Roofing Fall Results in Double Prosecution

A BUILDING contractor and specialist cladding firm have been sentenced for safety breaches after an employee fell through a roof light and suffered life changing injuries.

On 4 January 2016, Brian Robinson was working as a sheeter cladder at the Weiser Construction site at the John Cotton factory in Mirfield, West Yorkshire. He was on the factory roof affixing sheet metal cladding and capping to the gable end of an adjoining building. Whilst tying the cappings to the roof, Brian fell over nine meters through a roof light into the active factory area below. As a result of his fall, Brian suffered an open fracture to his femur and multiple fractures to his pelvis and underwent operations to insert six pins into his pelvis, two pins to the top and two pins to the bottom of his femur.

Failure to provide roof safety netting
An investigation found that the original roof scaffold had been removed prior to cladding works being completed. Spandeck boards with guardrails were the preferred control measure but use of these boards meant that workers could not affix the handrails in situ.

No nets had been scheduled to be used in the area of the factory and as Brian fell, the top half of his legs struck the top of a storage cage, approximately 2.4m high, before continuing his fall to the floor behind the storage cage.

Leeds-based Weiser Construction Ltd (now in liquidation) pleaded guilty to breaching the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £145,000, with costs of £5,046.30.

Complete Cladding Systems Ltd of Newton Cap House, Toronto, Bishop Auckland also pleaded guilty to breaching the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £165,000, with costs of £5,114.49.

HSE inspector Paul Thompson commented: “Work at height, such as roof work, is a high-risk activity that accounts for a high proportion of workplace serious injuries and fatalities each year.

“This was a wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the principal contractor to manage and monitor the works to ensure the correct work equipment was being used. This risk was further amplified by the cladding company’s failure to ensure suitable measures were in place to prevent persons falling a distance liable to cause personal injury.”

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