The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigated complaints from concerned members of the public about the work at Bredegar Road in Gillingham on 19 March 2012. On visiting the site, an HSE inspector spotted workers from Industrial Roofing (Surrey) Ltd walking on a fragile roof without any fall protection. He saw clear evidence of work on the roofline without any precautions in place to prevent or mitigate a fall to the concrete floor below, a distance of some seven metres in places.
Medway Magistrates' Court heard this week that the Guildford-based firm had been subcontracted to replace and repair gutters on a former industrial building.
A prohibition notice was served to prevent further work on the roof until safeguards were in place, such as work platforms, coverings, guard rails and edge protection.
An improvement notice was also served requiring employees to undergo formal work at height training. Neither this nor the earlier notice was contested by the company and improvements were belatedly made.
Industrial Roofing (Surrey) Ltd, of Belmont Avenue, Guildford, but no longer trading after being compulsory wound up, was fined a total of £13,400 and ordered to pay £9,167 in costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Melvyn Stancliffe said: "Work at height is inherently fraught with risk, and falls remain the single biggest cause of deaths and serious injury in the construction industry.
"It is therefore essential that effective management and training is in place to ensure risks are properly managed, and that adequate measures are taken to ensure workers are protected.
"I would like to thank the members of the public who brought this matter to our attention. They provided clear evidence of the unsafe way in which the roof work was being undertaken, and in doing so they may well have prevented a fall that could have killed or seriously injured a worker."