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9th May 2017

Double fine for working at height dangers

Two roofing contractors have recently been fined £66,000 each after the HSE investigated hazardous working at height conditions.

MKM Fabrications Ltd was employed as the principal contractor to carry out a roof replacement on a building at Valley Mills, Oldham. The company subcontracted part of the project to Clad-It Limited, which effectively meant employees from two companies worked alongside one another.

Concerns were raised to the HSE claiming that men were working on the roof with nothing in place to prevent them falling off the edge or through the roof onto mill workers below. The subsequent HSE site inspection confirmed the suspected poor working conditions, with workers from both companies placed at risk or falling. Inspectors also established that these working practices continued during snowy weather!

The project involved replacing a northern light roof structure with a modern composite roof. 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 immediately served, effectively stopping the works until a safe method could be found and put into place.

Whose fault is this?

As principal contractor for the works, MKM Fabrications had the primary responsibility for the health and safety of workers. MKM failed to effectively plan the safe completion of the project and failed to put in place measures to prevent anyone falling from the unguarded sections of the roof.

Obvious risks

MKM Fabrications of Oldham pleaded guilty at Manchester Magistrates’ Court to safety breaches and was fined £66,000 with £3938.38 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 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, also of Oldham, pleaded guilty and was fined £66,000 with £3938.38 costs.

The HSE inspector involved in the prosecution said after the case: “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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