We have recently been asked to report on an accident where a contractor fell from a roof of a school. The accident resulted in two broken bones but could have easily led to a fatal injury. The roofer, who is highly experienced (over 20 years roofing work), slipped whilst working on a metal roof, sliding down the roof before falling to the ground. Only a few feet away were some metal railings, which he was lucky to avoid.
The incident was reported to the HSE who are yet to follow up and it will be interesting to see who is held accountable, if the HSE choose to investigate.
Our involvement has shown that some key controls were clearly missing before this work was undertaken by all parties; one of which was to overlook that, in 20 years, the roofer had never worked on a metal roof. This fact was made clear at the initial meeting between the principal contractor, the school and the roofing contractor but it was said to be not a problem.
The second fact was that there were no controls put in place in line with what the Work at Height Regulations 2005 require. Had there been a safe means to prevent him from falling then this incident could have been easily avoided. Both the principal contractor and the school clearly failed to provide controls to a suitable standard.
The third fact was that although the roofing contractor provided a generic method statement, this was never challenged and discussed to ensure that all parties were happy that suitable controls were to be in place.
It is clear to us that this was thought to be a simple job and insufficient funds were allocated. Had this task been properly thought out then scaffolding would have been erected or a MEWP would have been hired in. It is clear that working on this metal roof was not safe as the roofers had been unable to attach their safety harnesses to a suitable anchor point. As the day progressed it appears that a small layer of dew must have built up, making the metal roof slippery.
The fact there was no risk assessment undertaken nor any competent advice taken, resulted in a man being seriously injured and will, at the very least, lead to a legitimate compensation claim.
If the HSE are involved then we would imagine that it’s likely to lead to a prosecution.