UK Firm failed to provide edge protection during plant room refurb work

A UK maintenance contractor has been prosecuted after a workman died as a result of falling from the roof of a five-storey building.

Birmingham Crown Court heard how the firm was contracted to carry out repairs to two motor rooms situated on the roof of a building on Hagley Road, Birmingham.

Two workers set up a working area immediately outside a protected area in which to mix mortar due to lack of space in the protected area. The mixing station consisted of a tarpaulin sheet placed on top of the roof with a plasterer’s bath placed on top. The corners of the tarpaulin sheet were weighted down with bags of rubble.

At the end of the working day, the workmen were cleaning up. The mixing bath was moved and in doing so the wind “blew open” the sheet of tarpaulin which landed over the edge of the building.

The deceased workman whilst retrieving the tarpaulin he fell over the roof edge some 14m to the ground below, suffering fatal injuries.

Incident “obviously foreseeable”

HSE investigators into the incident which occurred on 10 October 2014 found that the UK company failed to ensure the safety of its employees during the external repair work. In Birmingham they pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £25,000.

After the incident the HSE Inspector said:

“This incident was obviously foreseeable. The employees working at the site were effectively left to their own devices with equipment and a system that was not wholly suited for the task at hand.

A suitable and sufficient assessment of the risk, suitable planning, implementation of suitable control measures and adequate and effective site supervision would have prevented this incident from occurring.”

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