No edge protection or precautions in tragic roof fall

A lack of edge protection and precautions against falling through a fragile roof led to a tragic incident in which one man lost his life and two face criminal convictions for their negligence in planning the work.

Following a HSE investigation into the fragile roof fall on June 11th 2013, a roofer and the director of an asset management firm both received suspended sentences and were told to pay around £16,600 in court costs in total, while the firm itself faced fines of £20,000 with a further £8,000 in costs.

But the biggest price was paid by the roofer’s best friend, a 65-year-old retired mechanic with little experience of working at height, who was only working on the job as a favour.

The two friends were cleaning roof lights on a fragile building, where neither the roof lights nor the roof itself was intended to support the weight of an individual.

After falling through one of the roof lights, the 65-year-old landed a distance of seven metres below on the workshop floor, sustaining fatal injuries.

The HSE reported that his surviving friend is a gardener by trade, and also lacks the experience necessary to take on this kind of work, while the asset management firm failed to carry out reasonable checks of competency when appointing the men to the job.

No fall prevention measures were used, and no edge protection was in place to prevent an incident taking place at the edge of the roof either.

HSE inspector Warren Pennington said: “This is an incredibly sad case all round. Each defendant knew that the roof was fragile and each accepted unsafe working practices.”

He added that if any of the convicted parties had asked basic questions about competency and safety, neither of the men would have been employed for the job and the victim would not have died in such an incident.