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TEMPORARY ROOF ‘TOOK OFF’ IN HIGH WINDS

Contractor fined after flying roof lands on roadway

Pyeroy Ltd has been prosecuted after the roof on a temporary extension at Lynemouth Power Station was “blown off” in high winds exposing workers and others at risk on 23 December 2013.The roof was a 25m span x 6m in length which weighed 2 tonnes. It rested on 8m high scaffolding supports.

The ‘flying roof’ struck the roof of an adjacent biomass shed before landing 50m beyond the other end of the shed on a roadway used by delivery wagons and occasional pedestrians. The incident occurred just before Christmas and the normally busy road was deserted.

Bedlington Magistrates heard (28 January) heard that the roof structure was part of a temporary extension to a permanent shed at the power station, designed to increase capacity and provide weather protection during deliveries by tipper wagons.

Pyeroy Ltd was asked to install a temporary extension which was designed by the company. It was constructed in June and July 2012 by Pyeroy’s own workforce with the help of a specialist roofing contractor. However, poor communication resulted in an incomplete design plan being used.

HSE established that although the structure was routinely inspected during the build and once it was brought into use from October 2012, it was inherently unsafe.

On 22 December the weather was worse than normal with the “winds picking up” and some of the sheeting on the structure needed to be re-tied. The temporary roof was blown off its end supports early the following morning.

HSE inspectors found that those involved in construction of the extension lacked the necessary knowledge and experience to do the work. The company also failed to properly communicate with the build team and to check the construction was carried out as it should be.

No assurances about ‘robustness’ of roof

Pyeroy Limited, of Kirkstone House, St Omers Road, Western Riverside Route, Gateshead, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £1.045.50 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the case, HSE inspector Andrew Woodhall said:

“Thankfully no one was injured as a result of this incident, but it should not and need not have happened.

It was easily preventable had Pyeroy Ltd ensured the work was carried out to the correct standards; that its team had the necessary skills and experience to carry out the work; and had it checked on the work during construction of the extension.

Regardless of the wind speeds, no-one knew whether the structure would be properly built or had been properly built, so they could give no assurances about the robustness of the roof. As a result of these failings, workers and others visiting the power station were needlessly put at risk.”

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