Jailed for fragile roof fall

A businessman has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for corporate manslaughter, and his family fined just under 150,000 after a fatal fall from an unsafe roof.

The businessman had employed two workers to carry out repairs to the fragile roof of a warehouse which was owned by this father and brother.  On the second day of work, the roof cracked and both workers fell onto the concrete floor below.  One of the workers was rushed to hospital but later died from head injuries, his colleague had a lucky escape and suffered minor injuries.

During the trial, the court heard that the workers were Polish and spoke little English.  The interpreter who hired them told the police that safety procedures, personal protective equipment, risk assessments and insurance were not discussed.

The businessman pleaded guilty to gross negligence.  The company which owned the building also pleaded guilty to two breaches under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

West Midlands Police Detective Inspector commented that the “recklessness and negligence” shown by the businessman led directly to the worker’s death and that his main priority was “to get the job done as cheaply as possible with complete disregard for the safety of these workers – with tragic consequences. We hope this sentence sends out a message to others than health and safety is not an optional extra.”

The HM Inspector of Health and Safety said, “Work on fragile roofs is extremely hazardous and requires proper planning and oversight to ensure that safety precautions are considered and implemented.  In this case the client, Al Amin Wholesale Limited, did nothing to check that work on their roof would be carried out safely.”  He went on to state that because of this neglect, the businessman who the company had tasked with arranging the roof work, “acted in a way which made it almost inevitable that a fall would occur, there was simply nothing put in place to prevent it.”

“Businesses have a major influence on how work is carried out on their projects, they need to take an active interest at each stage of the work and provide sufficient time and resources. Their decisions and approach have a significant impact on the health, safety and welfare of their projects. This tragedy was entirely preventable. ”

Working Safely on Fragile Roofs

We’ve discussed in the past the importance of carrying out thorough risk assessments before work at height, particularly on fragile roofs, is carried out.  Any work at height must be properly planned, carried out using the correct equipment and only by those who are competent.  Unfortunately, in this case, price was the driving factor.

We offer a range of products, such as the Board-Walk lightweight aluminium walkway and Roof-Walk fully guarded rolling work platform which have been designed specifically to allow work to be carried out on fragile roofs.

Further information about working safely on fragile roofs can be found in our Safe Roof Access article.