A metalwork casting and machining company has been fined for unsafe work practices after an employee nearly fell through a fragile roof at their premises.
The Court heard that the employee was working on the roof of the company's workshop when he slipped and almost fell through the fragile roof. The subsequent HSE investigation found that the company had failed to provide suitable working at height equipment to carry out tasks and that none of the employees had been given work at height training relating to working on roofs.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 which requires that "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." As a result the company was fined £160,000 with costs of just under £6,000.
Thankfully in this case the employee didn't actually fall through the fragile roof as the outcome could have been far worse. According to the HSE there are an estimated 8 fatalities a year as a result of falls through fragile materials. Before any form of work at height is undertaken a site specific risk assessment must be carried out in order to determine how the work can be done safely and what fall prevention products are needed, particularly when fragile roof access is required. Employees should then be given sufficient training, instruction and supervision in order to ensure their safety while working at height.
We have a range of products which are designed specifically to allow work to be carried out safely on fragile roofs. For example Valley-Walk is a mobile walking frame for easy access along gutters while Roof Walk is an open mesh walkway system which allows access from eaves to ridge. Both systems are lightweight, easily portable and provide a safe working position on fragile roofs.
For further information on working on fragile roofs read our Blog Tackling the issue of fragile roof safety.