Companies Prosecuted Over Roof Incident

Double Prosecution Follows After Worker Suffers Life-Threatening Injuries


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has prosecuted two firms over an incident at a disused factory in Cheshire, in which a worker nearly lost his life after falling through a fragile roof panel as he worked to remove asbestos material.

Peter Tracey, who was working for Haydock-based Local Asbestos Services and Leicestershire firm Construction Contracting UK, was working to strip sheeting from the roof of the premises in Poynton when he stepped onto the weak panel, falling five metres to a concrete floor below.

He suffered two collapsed lungs and blood in one of them, broken ribs, a hip fracture and a ruptured tendon in his shoulder. Mr Tracey was in hospital for a month and some of the physical damage will affect him permanently.

An HSE investigation found the two companies involved had allowed workers to go on the roof without having any safety measures in place, such as nets or harnesses. This was despite the firms agreeing before the work commenced that the sheets could be removed from the roof using a cherry picker or a scissor lift.

In the hearing at Liverpool Magistrates' Court, Construction Contracting UK was found guilty of a breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 due to its failure to ensure the roof work was safe, while Local Asbestos Services pleaded guilty to a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Passing sentence, the court fined Construction Contracting UK £12,000 with costs of £23,502, while Local Asbestos Services was fined £8,000 with costs of £6,191.

Commenting on the case, HSE inspector Kevin Jones noted that "this kind of incident is all too common in the roofing industry".

He added: "Both companies had prepared a risk assessment and method statement identifying a safe system of work, but this wasn’t implemented."

HSE guidance on complying with the Working at Height Regulations 2005 includes advice that companies should ensure "the risks of working on or near fragile surfaces are properly managed".

Expert Opinion
This is yet another example of the dangers of working at height. Through our work we have seen numerous cases of employees being seriously injured or killed as a result of falling from height.

“Employers have a duty to ensure any work carried out on their behalf is done so with the appropriate health and safety measures in place. This incident could have easily been avoided had the risk assessment related to working on or near fragile surfaces been implemented correctly and staff been alerted to the dangers of working at height. It is vital lessons are learnt from this incident, in which a man suffered severe injuries that will impact his life permanently, to ensure such a serious incident does not occur in the future.”
Stephen Nye, Partner