HSE Inspector films unprotected roof work


As you may know, we at McCormack Benson Health & Safety monitor the construction safety scene very closely because it is our area of expertise as safety consultants. Therefore we tend to see trends as they emerge.

One that is apparent is that both HSE inspectors and members of the general public are more and more prepared to use digital camera and smartphone availability to take photos or videos of unsafe practices that unnerve them. The result is a steady increase in the number of court cases where imagery is available to endorse the prosecution’s case and undermine any defence that an errant contractor may make.

Here is a classic example, where a builder risked the lives of two workers by getting them to work on the roof of a house without any form of protection.

Rogue loft conversion

Two workers seen on roof

The contractor in question is Mohammed Yasin (39), trading as Southfield Property Maintenance. He had a loft conversion contract at a semi-detached house in Matlock Grove, Burnley. On 10th April 2014, an HSE inspector happened to pass the spot and saw the roof workers as they worked to install a dormer window: she then photographed them (see the photo here).

Mr Yasin himself was safely occupied inside the building while the two at-risk workers were working up on the roof, close to the chimney. No scaffold tower or indeed any safety precaution measures had been provided – either to prevent falls or to provide secondary anti-injury protection.

Burnley Magistrates’ Court heard the case and then fined Mohammed Yasin of Nelson, Lancs, the sum of £2,000. He also had to pay prosecution costs of £300. In view of the evidence it is no surprise that he pleaded guilty under the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

The comment of Jacqueline Western, the HSE Inspector, was:

It’s astonishing that Mr Yasin was prepared to carry out a construction project that involved major roof work, without putting safety measures in place to protect the people he employed. While he worked safely inside the house, the lives of two men were being put at risk as they clambered about on the roof. The work simply shouldn’t have been allowed to go ahead without the use of scaffolding or other safety equipment.

In case any person is unfamiliar with the specific regulation that applies here, it says:

Where work is carried out at height, every employer shall take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury.

Clearly in this case no measures at all were taken: and the whole process of risk assessment and the application of method statements was completely ignored. It is cases like this that give construction safety a bad name and counter the good work done by so many others in the industry.