The two roofers were spotted by chance as they carried out repairs at a building on Lancaster Approach, Immingham. HSE inspectors happened to pass by while investigating an unrelated case. The inspectors were shocked by the obvious dangers and stopped to take photographs and to issue a prohibition notice to immediately stop the roof repair work.
Grimsby Magistrates' Court was told the men's employers had not provided the necessary safeguards or equipment for the two workers. The risks, including the potentially fragile condition of the roof, had not been adequately considered.
The HSE said the company had failed to provide suitable equipment to prevent a fall from or through the roof, such as a mobile elevating platform or standard platform with handrails. There was also nothing in place, such as netting or a boarded platform underneath the roof, which would have caught anyone falling.
Brigg and Humberside Roofing Services Ltd., of Westrum Lane, Brigg, North Lincolnshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. They were fined £5,000 with £1,887 in costs.
After the case, HSE inspector Alan Sheldon said: "It was pure chance a passing HSE team spotted these two workers as both men were obviously in significant danger of falling off or through the roof. There was no safe system of work to prevent a fall and nothing in place to mitigate the effects of a fall, such as netting underneath the roof.
"Falls from height are still the biggest killer in the construction industry. In 2009/10, more than half of the deaths which occurred in the industry were due to falls. An estimated 4,000 or so workers were also badly injured last year after falling from heights.”
In a separate but very similar case last Friday, Derby Magistrates' Court fined contractors Aquacoat Ltd £10,000 with £4,177.65 costs for safety offences while cleaning the roof of a house in Swadlincote last year. Two Aquacoat employees were spotted working on the roof with no safe system of work in place.