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CLIENT PROSECUTED AFTER FAILING TO CHECK COMPETENCE

Contactor and client in court after woman falls through warehouse roof

Provimi Ltd, an animal feed producer and maintenance contractor Riley & Sons (Alan Riley t/a) have been prosecuted after a woman fell 5m through a fragile roofight on a Staffordshire warehouse in April 2011. The 27-year-old woman was repairing a gutter when she fell through the rooflight fracturing two vertebrae.

The court heard that Provimi obtained two quotations to repair the warehouse roof. The first was from a roof maintenance contractor and the second from Mr Riley who had never worked on fragile roofs before.

Provimi commissioned Mr Riley whose quotation for the work was £20,000 less than the other quote. The company did not undertake competence checks to determine that the contractor was able to carry out the work safely and without contravening H&S requirements.

HSE investigators found no effective measures taken to prevent injury from falls through fragile rooflights e.g. safety nets, fall arrest systems and/or guarded working platforms. Provimi made no attempt to stop the work and its staff assisted by lifting materials to the unprotected roof edge.

Client cut costs by “hiring a cheap contractor” without checking competence

Provimi Ltd, of Thirsk, North Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £1,924 costs. Alan Riley of Burton-on-Trent, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £1,924 costs.

HSE inspector Mr Lindsay Hope said after the hearing:

“Provimi decided to cut costs by hiring a cheap contractor without checking whether he was competent to do the job.

When Provimi staff saw there was no protection to prevent a fall at the edge of the warehouse roof, the company should have stepped in straightaway to stop this unsafe work, but instead helped Alan Riley to carry on.

Alan Riley should never have taken on the work. He had no experience of working on fragile roofs and did not take enough precautions to protect workers on the roof and because of this a woman suffered serious injuries which could easily have been fatal.

Clear guidance on working at height is available from HSE and it is unacceptable to see such failings.”

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