A scaffolding firm and the owner of a roofing company have been fined after a worker suffered serious injuries when he plunged nine metres through a fragile warehouse roof in Northampton.
Labourer Stephen Allibon was walking on fragile asbestos cement sheeting during roofing work on 13 August 2012 when it gave way beneath him. He fell onto a metal pallet and then the concrete floor.
He sustained three fractures to his right arm, multiple fractures to his face and head, a punctured lung, damage to his chest and a severe gash to his right leg.
Mr Allibon, who is still unable to work, now has reduced movement in his right arm and right leg, numbness in his left arm, and suffers chest problems and dizzy spells.
His employer, Beekay Scaffolding Ltd, and contractor William Thomas Toone, trading as Industrial Roofing Services (IRS), were both prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation identified they had both failed to make sure the work was carried out safely.
Northampton Magistrates’ Court heard today (19 May) that Beekay had been contracted by IRS to erect scaffolding for a warehouse roof repair in Watford village.
Repair work to the roof was planned in two stages. Protective nets and scaffolding were put in place to the south side to allow repairs to take place there before being moved to the north side to complete the work.
However, poor management meant that when Mr Allibon was moving scaffolding poles from the south side of the roof, there was no edge protection and no netting remaining under the perimeter of the roof where he was walking, nor were the scaffolders using platforms of any kind.
HSE found that both companies had agreed safety precautions in advance of the work but both had failed to ensure they were implemented properly during the course of the work, exposing the workers to extreme risk.
Beekay Scaffolding Ltd of Obelisk Rise, Kingsthorpe, Northampton, was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,640 after admitting two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and a single breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.
William Thomas Toone, trading as Industrial Roofing Services (IRS), of The Leys, Roade, Northampton, was fined £2,500 and ordered to pay costs of £1,400 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Richard Lockwood said:
“Mr Allibon suffered very serious injuries, but we could easily be talking about a fatal incident. Simple, straightforward, common sense procedures could have prevented this fall and the severe consequences it has had for one worker and his family.
“Both IRS and Beekay Scaffolding fell very far short of a safe and reasonable standard. They were clearly informed of the dangers. If properly used, the precautions would have reduced the risk to a minimal level.
“The dangers of working at height are well-known in industry, yet workers still die or are permanently disabled because of the poor safety standards and lack of safeguards that still exist among some contractors.
“It is essential that the hazards associated with working at height are recognised and understood by those carrying out the work.”
Further information about working safely at height can be found on the HSE website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/falls.
Notes to Editors
1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
2. Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”
3. Regulation 4(1)(a) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: “Every employer shall ensure that work at height is properly planned.”
4. Regulation 9(2)(a) of The Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: “Where it is not reasonably practicable to carry out work safely and under appropriate ergonomic conditions without passing across or near, or working on, from or near, a fragile surface, every employer shall (a) ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that suitable and sufficient platforms, coverings, guard rails or similar means of support or protection are provided and used so that any foreseeable loading is supported by such supports or borne by such protection.”
5. Regulation 13(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 states: “Every contractor shall plan, manage and monitor construction work carried out by him or under his control in a way which ensures that, so far as is reasonably practicable, it is carried out without risks to health and safety.”
6. HSE press releases are available at press.hse.gov.uk