20 Sep 2010

A total disregard to safety at height leads to prosecution for roofer

An Atherton roofer has appeared in court after being spotted working on roofs with no safety equipment to prevent him and his staff falling off.

Mark McKernan, from Hesketh Street, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after he and three employees were seen working on two residential properties with nothing to stop them plunging to the ground below if they slipped.

An HSE inspector also watched workers throwing slates from the roofs of the houses in Yew Tree Avenue into a skip below, just a few feet away from a busy pavement on 16 December last year.

Trafford Magistrates' Court heard that the company should have erected a guardrail around the roof or used scaffolding to prevent potential falls or serious injuries. A rubbish chute or other suitable equipment should have been used to transport waste safely to the ground.

Mark McKernan pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 6(3) and 10(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 by failing to take suitable measures to prevent a fall from the roofs, and for failing to provide suitable equipment to remove waste material from the roof. He was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £2,000 costs.

HSE Inspector Robert Hodkinson said:

"Around 11 roofers are killed each year in the UK as a result of falls from height, and the majority of these deaths could have been prevented if those carrying out the work had planned the job properly and taken adequate precautions.

"There was absolutely nothing in place at this site to stop Mr McKernan or his employees falling to the ground below and sustaining serious injuries or even being killed.

"Roof slates and other waste materials were also being thrown from the roof into a skip next to a busy public pavement, which put passersby at serious risk of being struck by flying debris."

Last year, two workers were killed in Greater Manchester as a result of falls from height and 521 suffered serious injuries.

HSE Transcript Source: HSE/NW51/Mark McKernan
(Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence)

The positive side of this story is that work was stopped before an incident occured, and that a successful prosecution was brought about without the need for injury occuring. The negative is that people continue to see such working practices as acceptable whilst working at heights remains one of the biggest killers in the workplace. Good to Go Safety offer inspection systems for scaffolding, scaffold towers, ladders and MEWPs which should have been used as part of a safe system of work on this job. Unfortunately if the correct equipment is not even on site and the employees fail to raise their concerns the potential for an accident is significant.

1 comment:

  1. Gravity plays no favourites. Roofers and others who undertake work at heights simply have to assess the risk and put controls in place or don't do the work.

    Many people don't realise that even a fall from a low height can have tragic consequences.


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