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HSE FOCUS ON SELF-EMPLOYED CONTRACTORS

Self-employed roofing contractors prosecuted and fined for unsafe working

Chippenham Magistrates Courts have today (7 June 2010) fined two self-employed roofing contractors.The men failed to take appropriate roofwork precautions during work on a private building in Wiltshire.

Contractors Antony Brian Sweet and Christopher Ernest Cole were found working dangerously at height on a residential storage shed in Avon Lane, near Chippenham, Wiltshire, on 18 March 2009.

Roofing work on the steel-framed building was carried out without safety nets, edge protection or equivilent safety precautions.

Both contractors admitted breaching Regulation 6 (3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and were each ordered to pay £450 in fines and prosecution costs.

Poor safety standards gave economic advantage 

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector, Simon Chilcott, said:

“Falls from height remain the largest cause of fatal and serious injuries in the construction industry. The building in this case was typical of the type regularly erected on local farms and we are very concerned about the levels of poor practice we find when inspecting roof work in agricultural premises.

“We will always seek to take enforcement action where we find poor safety standards in roof work. In this case, not only were the defendants putting themselves at risk but they were gaining an economic advantage over those who work safely.

“As self-employed workers, they had a duty to protect themselves and others while working on this project. They should have ensured that they had planned the work properly, taking into account all the probable risks, and then managed the project correctly.”

Comment

It would appear the contractors in this case were engaged by a ‘domestic client’. By contrast, a business engaging roofing contractors would attract CDM 2007 Client Duties and be open to prosecution in the absence of suitable arrangements for managing the work safely.    

The majority of construction fatal injuries now occur on small projects involving smaller contractor. HSE will therefore be devoting more proactive and reactive effort into improving standards on such projects, especially as regards roof work.

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