The three firms, Bowmer & Kirkland, Advance Roofing and JKW Roofing were working on the roof of a new three-storey teaching block at Abbotsfield School for Boys in Hillingdon, west London.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how on 23rd February 2017 Storm Doris was moving across the UK bringing gusts of wind up to 94 mph. Because of the winds there were numerous warnings on site and many activities had been suspended. The roof works at Abbotsfield School continued, however, until the early afternoon when a gust of wind blew JKW Roofing company director John Whitham, 52, off the roof, along with freestanding A-frame barriers and stacks of insulation. In falling 11 metres, Mr Whitham sustained severe injuries to his pelvis, vertebrae and tibia, from which he continues to suffer.
Bowmer & Kirkland was the principal contractor on the project. Advanced Roofing was contracted to carry out the roofing works on the project and had subcontracted the substantive roofing works on the main building to JKW Roofing while using its own workers on other areas.
The investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that all three contractors had failed to ensure that a suitable and sufficient system to assess the effects of high wind when working at height was being followed. The companies had taken an informal approach to assessing weather conditions which was not in line with industry standards.
Bowmer & Kirkland Limited, of High Edge Court Street, Belper, Derbyshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £350,000 plus £6,190.28 in costs.
Advanced Roofing Limited, of Littlewell Lane, Stanton-By-Dale, Derbyshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was fined £29,300 and ordered to pay £6,187.88 in costs.
JKW Roofing Services Limited, of Gedling Road, Arnold, Nottinghamshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It received a 12-month conditional discharge and was ordered to pay £6,159.48 in costs.
HSE inspector Gabriella Dimitrov said after the hearing: “Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to the workers in the safe system of working. If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the life changing injuries sustained by Mr Whitham could have been prevented.”