Last week the Health & Safety Executive successfully prosecuted three companies in different parts of the country, for breaches of Regulations, all in connection with falls through fragile roofs.
I myself recently witnessed a roofing company walking over the roof of a premises opposite our offices with no form of safeguards whatsoever. I rang the owners of the business to explain that they could be liable if there was an accident and I contacted the roofing firm to suggest that they should do something about their unsafe methods of work. I was told by the roofers that they were very busy and there was no way that they could put any safeguards into place each time they went onto a roof!
Another recent case was:-
A 32-year-old man fell through the fragile roof of a warehouse onto a concrete floor more than 14 m below. He died at the scene. He had been working as part of a team for a contractor cleaning the warehouse roof. His co-workers on the roof and people in the warehouse below heard a cracking noise before becoming aware he had fallen through. There were no measures in place to prevent his fall. The owners of the warehouse were prosecuted and fined £260,000 and his employer was prosecuted and fined £20,000.
If you do have a roof that isn’t a solid structure (e.g. a concrete base rather than sheets of metal or plastic) or if you have skylights through which a person might fall, please don’t let a contractor up there unless they have given you a risk assessment and a description of the safe method of work that they will use which must clearly state what they will use to minimise the risk of a fall. This may be fall arrest systems, working from a mobile elevated working platform or covering any unsafe areas.