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COWBOY ROOFING CONTRACTOR CAUGHT RED-HANDED

Prosecution suggests an increase in HSE ‘proactive’ construction proceedings  

A Manchester roofing contractor has been fined after being spotted working on roofs without precautions to prevent workmen falling from the roof edge.

Mark McKernan, from Atherton, was prosecuted by HSE after he and three employees were caught red-handed carryin out roofwork in a dangerous manner on two residential properties.

The HSE inspector watched as slates were thrown from the roofs into a skip below and just a few feet away from a busy pavement on 16 December 2009. Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard that the company should have erected a guardrail around the roof or used scaffolding to prevent potential falls or serious injuries.

A rubbish chute or other suitable equipment should have been used to transport waste safely to the ground.

Eleven roofers die each year

Mark McKernan pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 6(3) and 10(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 by failing to take suitable measures to prevent a fall from the roofs, and for failing to provide suitable equipment to remove waste material from the roof. He was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £2,000 costs.

HSE Inspector Robert Hodkinson said:

“Around 11 roofers are killed each year in the UK as a result of falls from height, and the majority of these deaths could have been prevented if those carrying out the work had planned the job properly and taken adequate precautions.

There was absolutely nothing in place at this site to stop Mr McKernan or his employees falling to the ground below and sustaining serious injuries or even being killed.

Roof slates and other waste materials were also being thrown from the roof into a skip next to a busy public pavement, which put passersby at serious risk of being struck by flying debris.”

Comment

This is another proactive HSE prosecution following unsafe working before injury occurred.

The number of fatal injuries in construction has fallen substantially over the last three years. It may be that HSE Inspectors will have more scope to institute such proceedings across all sectors of construction where uncontrolled risk is found.

The level of fine imposed remains relatively low although probably enough to act as a disincentive to others. The reputational risk will be much greater to more mainstream contractors.

Legal proceedings of this nature are difficult to defend as there is direct Inspector evidence.

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