With no measures to prevent them falling, their employer, Davidson Williams (Merseyside) Ltd, was yesterday fined £3,500 after a prosecution brought by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).
Wirral Magistrates' Court was told today (5 July 2012) that HSE found there were around 400 clear plastic panels on the roof, designed to let in light, which could have broken away if they had been stepped on.
Two of the men were initially seen walking along the sloping warehouse roof at Vittoria Dock in Birkenhead on 24 November 2011 to check it for leaks, before all three went up to carry out the repairs.
The court heard that the workers wore hard hats and high-visibility jackets, but that neither of those items offered any help at all if they had fallen through one of the fragile panels or off the edge of the roof.
Davidson Williams (Merseyside) Ltd, of Corporation Road in Birkenhead, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 by failing to take measures to prevent workers being injured in a fall. As well as the £3,500 fine, it was ordered to pay £1,500 costs.
HSE inspector Christina Goddard said afterwards: "There were several ways this work could have been carried out safely, including using harnesses, installing netting under the fragile panels, or erecting scaffolding. But none of these methods was chosen by the company.
"Instead, the three employees were left to repair the leaking roof without any protection to stop them being injured in fall off the edge or through one of the hundreds of clear plastic panels.
"There is always the temptation for firms to cut corners to reduce costs, but companies which do this risk putting their employees' lives in danger. It is only through good fortune that no one was seriously injured or even killed in this case."