The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has prosecuted a Wirral metalwork company after three of its employees were seen working at height without safety measures.
The men, who were employed by Davidson Williams (Merseyside) Ltd, were working on a sloping warehouse roof repairing a leak on 24 November 2011. They were up to 16 metres above ground level with no safety harnesses or other safety equipment to prevent falls and potential injury.
The workers were wearing high visibility jackets and hard hats, none of which would have saved their lives if they had fallen through or off the side of the fragile warehouse roof.
A concerned member of the public sent photographs of the men to the HSE, alerting it to the safety failings. The HSE told Wirral Magistrates' Court that the workers could have been killed by the negligence of their employer.
Davidson Williams (Merseyside) Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 by failing to take measures to prevent workers being injured in a fall. The firm was fined £3,500 and ordered to pay £1,500 in costs.
Good fortune that no one was seriously injured or even killed
HSE Inspector Christina Goddard said: “There were several ways this work could have been carried out safely, including using harnesses, installing netting under the fragile panels, or erecting scaffolding. But none of these methods was chosen by the company.
“Instead, the three employees were left to repair the leaking roof without any protection to stop them being injured in a fall off the edge or through one of the hundreds of clear plastic panels.
“There is always the temptation for firms to cut corners to reduce costs, but companies which do this risk putting their employees' lives in danger. It is only through good fortune that no one was seriously injured or even killed in this case.”
Matthew Tollitt, a solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors’ Serious Injuries Team said: “Falls from height are the biggest cause of workplace fatalities and one of the biggest causes of serious injury. In this instance the employer showed complete disregard for the safety of its workers, which could have resulted in a serious foreseeable accident.”
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