The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has prosecuted two roofing companies, after they put their contractors at risk of injury from falls from height during roof replacement works in Oldham, Lancashire.
MKM Fabrications Ltd had been employed as the principal contractor to carry out a roof replacement on one of the buildings at Valley Mills, Millgate, Delph in Oldham, which is currently used for textile production.
The company subcontracted part of the project to Clad-It Limited, which effectively meant employees from two companies were alongside one another.
The roof refurbishment involved replacing a northern light roof structure with a modern composite roof.
Concerns were raised with the Health and Safety Executive, claiming that men were working on the roof with no guards in place to prevent them falling off the edge – or through the roof – onto mill workers below.
The subsequent HSE investigation confirmed hazardous working conditions were in place, with workers from both MKM and Clad-It at risk.
HSE inspectors also established that these working practices continued during snowy weather.
The roof was covered in fragile skylights which had not been covered to prevent any person stepping onto them and falling through – nor were any measures taken to prevent a worker falling through the large gap created after the skylight had been removed.
Mill employees were also at risk from being hit by falling tools or debris.
Prohibition Notices were served stopping the works until a safe method could be found and put into place.
As principal contractor for the works, MKM Fabrications had the primary responsibility for the health and safety of workers.
The investigation concluded that MKM had failed to effectively plan the safe completion of the project – and had failed to put in place measures to prevent anyone falling from the unguarded sections of the roof.
MKM Fabrications of Meek Street, Royton in Oldham pleaded guilty at Manchester Magistrates’ Court to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £66,000, with £3,938.38 in costs.
As subcontractor for the works, Clad-It had a duty to protect its own workers, as well as anyone affected by its works. By allowing its employees onto site without a suitable and sufficient planning being in place – or any physical safeguards to prevent a fall from height – the company exposed its own workers to those risks.
Clad-It Limited of Trent Industrial Estate, Duchess Street, Shaw in Oldham pleaded guilty at Manchester Crown Court to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was also fined £66,000, with £3,938.38 in costs.
After sentencing, HSE inspector Matt Greenly said:
“MKM and Clad-It failed in their duties to protect the roof workers – and anyone working below them in the mill – from a foreseeable risk of serious harm.
“The risks to workers here were obvious – and neither company thought it necessary to manage the work at height risks properly.”
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