Company Prosecuted Over Unsafe Work At Height

Engineering Company Fined After Failing To Keep Staff Safe While Working On A Roof


An engineering company has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for failing to ensure the safety of its staff while they carried out work on a roof.

UTS Engineering, which is based in Jarrow, Tyne and Wear, was investigated over the way in which repairs were carried out to the roof of its premises at the Bede Industrial Estate, following a complaint to the HSE.

The investigation found the company had got one of its employees to inspect the roof, re-felt it and clear the gutters.

These tasks were carried out without guard rails to stop anyone falling off the edge, or safety netting to protect anyone who might fall through the fragile roof, which included vulnerable spots like Georgian-wired glass roof lights and vertical lights.

As well as the lack of safety measures, UTS was found not to have put together a plan for the safe carrying out of the work, had not assessed the risk and did not ensure the task was carried out by someone with the correct training to do it.

Fortunately nobody was hurt during the work, but the HSE proceeded with the prosecution and UTS pleaded guilty at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court to two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was fined £24,000 with costs of £1,146.80.

Commenting on these failings, HSE inspector Fiona McGarry said: "While it is fortunate that no-one was injured during these extensive works, employees working on the roof were exposed unnecessarily to high levels of risk.

"Death and serious injury following falls from the edge of roofs or through fragile materials are all too common and proper planning is vital to ensure the work is carried out safely and the correct precautions are identified and used."

HSE figures for 2012-13 revealed there were 46 fatalities caused by falls at height, with exactly half of these occurring in the construction industry.

Falls accounted for a third of last year's workplace deaths, as well as causing 2,522 instances of injury leading to absences of more than seven days.

Expert Opinion
It is very fortunate that no one was injured a result of this company’s failure to carry out appropriate risk assessments and failure to provide the correct safety precautions.

“The risks of working at heights are well known so there is no excuse for employers not to take the necessary steps to protect workers.

“We hope this prosecution serves as a reminder that unsafe working conditions will not be tolerated, regardless of whether anyone is injured or not.”
Stephen Nye, Partner