Unsafe roofing work captured on TV


Building health and safety is often the subject of court actions and may reach the columns of the local and occasionally national press, but it is rare for an infringement to be featured on national prime time TV.

In this case, the Watchdog programme on BBC1 was alerted to the firm Renov8, in the Manchester area, following a number of complaints from members of the public that the work done was sub-standard and that it merited investigation in terms of the company’s trading standards.

The TV researchers mounted a ‘sting’ by hiring Renov8 in May 2013 to clean the roofs of two separate bungalows in Heather Close in Droylsden and in Radford Street in Salford. They then filmed the firm’s workers in action (with pre-placed hidden cameras) and broadcast the results to the nation in June 2013.

This clearly depicted a worker using a pressure washer to remove moss, and  walking about a sloping roof at the Droylsden house while using no protection  measures. Renov8 director, Darren Potts, watched this all going on from  ground level. In Salford the same occurred again, (as the attached still image  shows) but with Mr Potts on the roof as well.

No protection from working at height

In neither case was scaffolding or any other safety precaution taken to limit slips, stop a fall, or prevent injury to the workers. As was pointed out later, it would have been easy, and is standard industry practice, to erect scaffolding for such a job, and apparently the firm had done so on previous occasions, so why not on these jobs?

Renov8 (North West) Ltd was prosecuted by the HSE at Trafford Magistrates’ Court. The HSE had discovered, subsequent to the TV show, that the firm lacked the legally-required employers’ liability insurance. Thus the worker employed on the roof work could not have claimed compensation if he was hurt.

Renov8, which is based in Failsworth, was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £1,255 in prosecution costs due to breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. Darren Potts, living at the same address, has to carry out 200 hours’ community service within the next 12 months and he must pay £1,255 of prosecution costs.

Those who wish to learn ore about best practice for averting falls can go to www.hse.gov.uk/falls.

Those firms who wish to brush up on their safety performance and avoid such damaging public exposure would be well advised to seek advice from McCormack Benson Health & Safety – they specialise in building safety issues, and have hugely experienced consultants. Yet they never forget whose side they are on.