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FRAGILE ROOF FALL HIGHLIGHTS UPCOMING HSE CAMPAIGN

High risk dismantling operation was not planned to prevent falls

An individual contractor has been fined after a ‘friend’ assisting with dismantling the roof of a disused factory fell 3m through the asbestos cement roof at Newnham, in the Forest of Dean, on 4 September 2012. He escaped with a fractured his elbow.

Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court heard (18 Mar) that Ashley Jones was engaged to dismantle the roof but he did not plan the work properly with equipment in place to prevent or mitigate the effects of a fall.

A ladder was used to gain access but the work could have been done safely from a cherry picker lift or scaffold tower. No guard rails were provided around the roof to prevent falls.

Work on roofs must be approached in a professional way

Ashley Jones, of Parkend Road, Yorkley, near Lydney, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £1,250 and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Sue Adsett said:

“Ashley Jones is a general property maintenance worker and had neither the training nor experience working on industrial roofs.

Falls from height are the single biggest cause of deaths and serious injury in the construction industry but proper planning and simple precautions, such as working from platforms below when possible and using edge protection, can reduce the risks.

Working on roofs is potentially dangerous and must be approached in a professional way.”

Comment

The injured man was fortunate to escape with his life. For the last 10 years or so there has been a significant number (8 to 12 per year) of deaths as a result of falls through fragile materials especially on commercial and agricultural roofs.

Th number of deaths has not declined over this period and, if anything, appears to be increasing. The HSE Construction Division will therefore be co-ordinating a cross-sector approach to the issue running for at least 2 years and seeking to tackle this persistent problem from a variety of angles. The initative will focus on both clients and contractors.

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