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CLIENT PROSECUTED FOR ALLOWING UNSAFE WORK AT HEIGHT

Building occupier fined after contractors found at risk of 7m fall

Cobham Advanced Composites Ltd, of Shepshed, was ordered by Loughborough Magistrates to pay nearly £15k in fines and prosecution costs on 23 March after three contractors were found on a their roof without adequate safety measures to prevent them falling.

The court heard that the company engaged Streamline Guttering and Cladding to install new guttering and that their workers accessed the roof by a mobile tower at the front of the building.

No protection provided at rear of building to prevent fall

There was no equipment to stop the men falling at the back of the building where work was underway.

Sub-contractor Streamline Guttering and Cladding was fined at an earlier hearing after pleading guilty to breaching the Work At Height Regulations 2005.

Case highlights the responsibilities of project clients

HSE Inspector Mhairi Lockwood said: “Working on roofs is a high risk activity. There was a foreseeable risk of a fall through either fragile roof lights or from the unprotected edge of the building.

“Any of the three roofing contractors could have suffered serious injuries or worse if they had fallen.

“This case shows that it is not only the responsibility of the contracting company to ensure the safety of its workforce, but also that of its client.

“It’s essential that the hazards associated with work at height are recognised and understood by the client or customer who commissions the work and that they have a responsibility for controlling contractors when on their premises.”

“Falls from height cause more workplace deaths than anything else. Working at height can be very dangerous if the right measures are not taken to protect workers.”

Comment: It is interesting to note that the client was prosecuted under HSW Act 1974 – Section 3 rather than the CDM 2007 client duties. The choice of complaint (charge) in health and safety cases is a matter for the prosecutor. 

The prosecution in this case may have felt that the evidence was stronger for a HSW Act 1974 breach. In addition, offences under the HSE Act 1974 are generally regarded as more serious than breaches of a regulation.

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