The director of a Coalville construction company has been sentenced for failing to use edge protection when working on a fifth-storey project, as well as simply throwing sacks of rubble from the fifth-floor window instead of using rubbish chutes or safely carrying the sacks to ground.
When the incident occurred, on October 2nd 2014, it was the police who called the Health & Safety Executive – as the building being worked on was directly opposite a police station in Leicester.
Inspectors arrived to find rubble was being thrown in sacks a height of several metres, and was landing not on the ground, but on a flat roof below; the builders had begun by carrying the sacks down to the roof level and then dropping them over its edge, but had switched to simply throwing them from a fifth-floor open window.
What’s more, the window was not guarded by edge protection, increasing the likelihood that the momentum of throwing one of the sacks might have carried a worker forward and over the edge, facing a fall of several metres on to the flat roof.
Inspectors were also concerned about the risk posed by the falling rubble itself which, without being contained within appropriate rubbish chutes, could potentially have landed on passers-by.
The refurbishment work had commenced without the proper paperwork being completed – including assessments of the risk that asbestos might be present in the materials being removed, and instructions to the workers involved on how the required demolition work should be undertaken.
HSE inspector Sarah Hill said: “It’s completely unacceptable for anyone to work at open edges with no fall protection.
“There was a possibility of a fall, the consequences of which could have led to people being seriously injured or killed. Additionally, there were real concerns for public safety from falling materials.”