Three roofers seen using no safety protection


Even on a 2-storey domestic building, the height of the roof and the pitch of it are enough to make this a very dangerous place on which to work. Building health and safety regulations are very clear on the requirement to take proper precautions by means of primary and secondary protection for the workers involved.

Yet still we see cases like this one (pictured) where roofers operate with no security whatsoever. This is a house in Kingsbury, in the London Borough of Brent, seen on 10th July 2012. The workers had been engaged to do the roof work by Mr Ranjit Singh, principal of Ranjit Roofing Company Ltd. based in Ealing, West London. A local person made a complaint about this, with the result that an HSE inspector visited and photographed the men, before serving an immediate prohibition notice on Ranjit Roofing Company: this prevented any further work at height from taking place on the roof until the firm had put the required safety measures into action.

 What should have been done

On a small and restricted space like this, there are real dangers to those on the roof, and also there are risks to workers or the public on the ground – and measures could have included:

  • individual harnesses
  • scaffolding instead of just a ladder
  • edge guarding to protect against falling materials

You can see a partial chute in use at the side of the house, but this still allowed uncontrolled waste to fall to earth, and it did not stop tiles or other roofing debris from tumbling from the roof while the men worked. The men are clearly also severely short of space and could easily have tripped over each other with disastrous results. It is very lucky that none were hurt.

Company and Director both guilty

Westminster Magistrates fined the firm of Ranjit Roofing Co Ltd (of Speart Lane, Hounslow) £5,000 plus £4,137 in HSE legal costs for a breach of the Work at Height Regulations. But it did not end there: under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 a director is individually liable for cases of neglect, as well as his firm, and accordingly Ranjit Singh from Greenford, Middlesex received a 2-year conditional discharge and had to pay the prosecution costs of £1,957.

The Inspector responsible for the prosecution commented:

This is the second prosecution of a roofing company from this part of London for similar safety failings in just a few months. The fact that there was no incident in this case is immaterial – the danger was there and someone could have been injured, or even killed, at any time. The safety standards required to protect workers against falls from height are readily accessible on HSE’s website.

The relevant information for the benefit of those involved in construction health and safety can be found here.