A Suffolk building company landed in court recently for failing to use proper man anchors and other fall protection while dismantling a roof some four metres from the ground on an Essex farm building.
HSE investigators found incorrectly used man anchors and inertia reels, along with inadequately installed safety netting or a total absence of netting in some places.
This compounded the fact that the roof sheets contained asbestos, which was not contained correctly, and the only decontamination procedures on site involved baby wipes and a cold hose pipe.
Ultimately the firm was fined £10,000 for its failings, with costs of £3,365.50 and a £120 victim surcharge, after pleading guilty to breaching the relevant regulations.
“There was a serious risk one of them could fall from or through the fragile roof because the firm failed to provide effective safeguards,” said HSE principal inspector Dominic Elliss.
“Too many workers continue to be seriously injured from falls in exactly this type of refurbishment project.”
Man anchors and guardrails remain important methods of fall protection, particularly around roof edges, while walkovers can provide safe access across weak roof surfaces – all of which could have helped in this instance to carry out the work more safely.