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WORK AT HEIGHT PUT PUBLIC IN DANGER AT CREMATRORIUM

Installation of abatement system exposed ‘haphazard’ approach to safety

IFZW Maintenance Ltd of Bedfordshire has been fined after endangering workers and the public with a “haphazard approach” to safety during work on the roof of a crematorium in Wales. Work on the roof of Morriston Crematorium in Swansea was carried out without any protection from falls. 

Magistrates heard (27 June) that the firm was installing fans as part of a mercury abatement system when an HSE inspector carried out an unannounced visit on 15 August 2011.

Two employees were working on the flat roof without edge protection whilst using an unsecured ladder leaning on the wall to gain access. Members of the public were walking past whilst work was in progress.

Poor planning and management for work at height

IFZW Maintenance Ltd of Biggleswade, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 for its failings, and was fined £11,500 and ordered to pay £3,208.30 in costs. The company had 9 weeks before the offence been served with a Prohibition Notice by HSE for working on top of cremator equipment without fall protection at a site in Sheffield.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector, Anne Marie Orrells, said:

“It was entirely foreseeable that people could fall when accessing and working on the crematorium roof.

On similar projects the company had correctly used scaffolding as edge protection. They recognised that there would be risks of falls when pipework was to be installed, and had intended to put scaffolding up at a later stage of the work to prevent their workers and subcontractors from falling.

However, the installation of the fans was seen as short duration work and was done in the absence of safety measures. The decision to work in this manner is indicative of poor planning and management for work at height.

A fall from the roof could have proved fatal and posed a clear risk to members of the public attending funeral services. The dangers of working at height are well known and the standards are well established within industry and legislation.”

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