4 Dec 2014

High dangers caught on camera

A Berkshire construction firm has been fined after three workers were photographed on a roof and ladder platform in Windsor without any safety measures in place.

Able Building & Roofing Services Ltd, which operates across the South East, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at a two-storey house in Windsor between 16-18 October 2013.

Reading Magistrates’ Court heard (1 Dec) that the householder, who hired the firm for roofing work, was so concerned by the obvious dangers faced by the workers, he took photos and sent them to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which investigated.

The photographs showed workers using an unguarded ladder platform that had not been erected properly, and also working on top of the main roof without any means of preventing falls.

HSE told the court that the company had failed to plan the work at height, which is inherently hazardous, leaving their workers without adequate protection against falls of up to six metres.

Able Building and Roofing Services Ltd, of Nine Mile Road, Finchampstead, near Wokingham, was fined a total of £10,000 and ordered to pay £986 in costs after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Dominic Goacher said:

“The company put the lives of three of their workers at risk by carrying out the roofing job in a totally unsafe manner. Anyone falling from the roof of a two-storey house would likely be killed and that type of disregard for safety is totally unacceptable.

“Able Building and Roofing failed to follow basic, and well-known, safety precautions and heed the guidance available to roofing companies.

“If the work had been planned correctly, more suitable equipment, such as a scaffold, and effective fall protection measures would have been in place. Where practical when working on roofs, there should be fully-guarded platforms or good edge protection in place to stop falls happening.”

Notes to Editors:

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

Regulation 4(1)(a) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: “Every employer shall ensure that work at height is properly planned.”

Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 state: “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.”

What must employees do?
Employees have general legal duties to take reasonable care of themselves and others who may be affected by their actions, and to co-operate with their employer to enable their health and safety duties and requirements to be complied with.

For an employee, or those working under someone else’s control, the law says they must:
• report any safety hazard they identify to their employer;
• use the equipment and safety devices supplied or given to them properly, in accordance with any training and instructions (unless they think that would be unsafe, in which case they should seek further instructions before continuing).

The need to provide suitable equipment is detailed in The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) for which downloadable information is available here.

PUWER and WAHR tend to work hand-in-hand and Good to Go Safety can help companies comply with both sets of Regulations.

Due to the flexibility of the Good to Go Safety checklists, they allow a competent person to specify the frequency of their checks – whether this be a daily/weekly/monthly check, a 7-day check or after alterations/periods of severe weather. Indeed some equipment may only come out of storage once in a blue moon, at which point a pre-use check can be carried out.

Each checklist is specific to the equipment being used. So whether it be a ladder, tower or MEWP you will follow a step-by-step walk-around to check safety critical components before placing the completed checklist inside a tag on the equipment for everyone to see the findings and current status.

Each completed checklist is created in duplicate to ensure that findings are not only displayed on the equipment but that a record is retained as part of your Safe Equipment Management System (SEMS) which can prove invaluable in the event of an accident investigation. By having evidence of completed equipment checks, documented dates, signatures and findings it shows that you have taken appropriate steps to minimise the potential for equipment failure. More importantly, it might help save someone’s life in the process.

Visit www.goodtogosafety.co.uk for your safe equipment management systems.

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