Roof Construction Dangers Lead to HSE Prosecution


If you are involved in constructing or renovating buildings, this case is relevant to your business.

A firm involved in replacing the roof of an agricultural building has been brought to court by the Health & Safety Executive and fined as well as suffering adverse publicity.

They were found guilty of endangering their workers by failing to provide adequate safeguards: and of failing to use correct equipment.

Cost of failure to comply

The magistrates’ court at Chippenham, Wilts, were told that an HSE Inspector had found workers operating on the roof in October 2010 without satisfactory protection at the edges of the roof, and having no nets to avert a fall from height.

A second charge was that they were using a home-made tackle as a harness, involving a running line. This was untested and in the opinion of the Inspector would not be able to stop a fall or consequent injury.

You might think they were using their initiative in constructing their own harness; but when it comes to worker protection there really is no substitute for using properly specified and tested equipment.

Bad Publicity

The contracting firm, Ashton Farms, was ordered to pay £4000 for each of the two offences plus their costs of approximately £4000, making a total of nearly £12000. The reputational damage of the case is hard to measure but must be significant.

Had the firm been employing Health and Safety consultants they could have avoided the unwelcome glare of negative publicity as well as ensuring the safe working conditions of their workforce.

Construction safety and adherence to the CDM regulations are crucial factors for any companies engaged in new building or repair works. To avoid a case like this being brought against you, it is good practice to arrange a review of your exposure and of the measures that need to be taken.