Working at Height Safety News Update

November 25, 2013 0 Comment(s) Ladder Safety, Safety Working at Height,

Roofing firm fined for ladder fall death

Such a tragic loss of life, we have posted info on making sure your ladders are safe and the HSE has lot's of guidance, please don't try and get away with using an exttension ladder if you really need some scaffold or a tower, it's never going to be worth it...A roofing company has been fined for safety failings after a worker fell to his death from an unsuitable and badly maintained ladder at a Milton Keynes home.Thomas Rowe, 56, from Crownhill, was undertaking roofline repairs at the two-storey property on 14 January 2012 when he fell almost five metres to the ground below, sustaining a fatal head injury.He was working for Milton Keynes Roofing Ltd, which was prosecuted yesterday (20 November) by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation revealed serious concerns with the equipment selected and used for the task.Aylesbury Crown Court heard that Mr Rowe, a self-employed roofer who was sub-contracted to the firm on an ad-hoc basis, was working at the rear of a home on Hodder Lane to install weatherproof eaves protectors.He accessed the roofline using a two-part extension ladder that was footed by the company director, who was also a close family friend.The exact circumstances of how he came to fall are unclear, but he evidently slipped after failing to maintain a secure contact with the ladder and the building as he tried to work.Thames Valley Police attended the scene before HSE was notified three days later. HSE’s investigation established that the choice of extension ladder was inappropriate, and that a more rigid system, such as a tower scaffold, should have been used instead.Inspectors also found that the ladder had damaged rungs and missing footers, and as such should not have been in use at all.The court was told that Mr Rowe’s death could have been prevented had a better system and equipment been in use.Milton Keynes Roofing Ltd, of Laurel Close, Milton Keynes, was fined a total of £11,672 after pleading guilty to two separate breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.The judge ruled that the level of fine he imposed was indicative of the company’s limited means to pay, not the seriousness of the failings or the value of Mr Rowe’s life. No prosecution costs were awarded.After the hearing, HSE Inspector John Berezansky said:“All work at height has to be properly planned and managed, and there were clear failings with the equipment used by Milton Keynes Roofing Ltd.“Even short duration tasks need planning and foresight, and it is evident that had more appropriate equipment been provided then Mr Rowe’s tragic death could have been avoided.“We were unable to find a direct link between the state of the ladder and his fall, but I also hope this case underlines the need to ensure that work equipment is properly maintained and fit for purpose.”

St Helens healthcare firm sentenced over fatal fall

Another tragedy, please take note, guard rails and training!A St Helens healthcare firm has been fined £170,000 for serious safety failings following the death of a worker who fell nearly six metres from scaffolding.Peter Winchurch, a self-employed joiner, had been hired to help build an extension to a semi-detached house on Bromilow Road in Skelmersdale when the incident happened on 9 November 2009.TRU Ltd, which was in charge of the construction site, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found the scaffolding was dangerous.This was due in particular to a lack of guard rails and inadequate decking. In addition, TRU Ltd’s site employees were not trained in safety, there were no risk assessments and there were no method statements.During a five-day trial at Liverpool Crown Court, the jury heard that TRU specialises in providing rehabilitation for people with brain injuries, but that it also took on some building projects.Mr Winchurch, 68 from Skelmersdale, had been working on the roof trusses for the extension to the house when he fell from the scaffolding. He suffered critical head injuries and died in hospital the following day.TRU Ltd, which now trades as TRU (Transitional Rehabilitation Unit) Ltd, was found guilty of two separate breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company, of Haydock Lane in Haydock, was fined £170,000 and ordered to pay a further £82,145 in prosecution costs on 22 November 2013.Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Anthony Polec said:“The failings by TRU Ltd were a significant cause of Mr Winchurch’s tragic death.“The scaffolding was clearly dangerous, which meant that the risk of a worker being killed or seriously injured in a fall was highly foreseeable.“The safeguards required were reasonably practicable, and there is much published guidance on the subject from HSE and the construction industry.”Falls from height are the biggest cause of workplace deaths in the construction industry in Great Britain.

New UK map of bogus ‘elf and safety excuses Londoners report most ‘jobsworth’ decisions to myth buster panel – with Scots and Welsh at other end of league table

If anyone knows who the department store is that wont fry eggs for a full English breakfast please let us know in the comments section, name and shame!

More people in London and the South East have reported ill-founded health and safety excuses than any other part of the UK, new analysis shows.

Britain’s workplace safety regulator, the Health and Safety Executive, has analysed the national spread of all reports to the popular Myth Busters Challenge Panel – set up to clamp down on bogus health and safety excuses.
A Map showing levels of daft health and safety excuses
The results show that more people report that they’re told “sorry, can’t do that because of ‘elf and safety’” in the capital and the South East than anywhere else – with more than fifty cases reported over the past year.The results also show:
  • Yorkshire has the second worst reporting rate for absurd edicts – with 22 complaints; and
  • Wales and the Highlands of Scotland have received the least number of complaints about ‘elf and safety excuses. 
Minister for Health and Safety Mike Penning said: “Health and Safety regulations save lives – but bogus excuses do nothing more than throw a spanner in the works of otherwise sensible activity.“No doubt the figures will raise an interesting debate about whether they reveal the extent of over-zealousness or show that people have had enough and are no longer prepared to put up with nonsense excuses.“Either way, it’s good to see so many people on the side of restoring common sense.”Some of those exposed in the capital include:
  • The cleaners at London underground stations banned from wearing woolly hats in winter.
  • A well-known department store which refused to serve fried eggs in a “full English breakfast” for fear of a pan fire; and
  • A British airline flying out of Heathrow who refused to serve boiled sweets to passengers suffering ear-ache.
Next in the national league table is Yorkshire, where residents have to put up with their fair share of bad customer service dressed up as health and safety – with 22 complaints.Those living in Wales and the Highlands and Islands of Scotland have reported the least number of absurd edicts, with just eight cases reported in each.Other ridiculous examples from other parts of the country include:
  • A housewife from Kenilworth who was told by her fishmonger they would not fillet her fish because it was too slippery;
  • Kids in Midlothian forced to traipse hundreds of yards to use their new tree house because the local council refused to build one on their own land; and
  • A woman who had her parasol confiscated at a racetrack as it may be dangerous
HSE Chair Judith Hackitt said: “It’s becoming increasingly clear just how many petty jobsworths there are hiding behind health and safety for fear of being sued or because they simply can’t be bothered. I want more people to have the confidence to challenge these excuses. If it doesn’t make sense to you then you are probably being fobbed off – many people are beginning to realise that now.”The Myth Busters Challenge Panel was set up in April 2012 to help the public challenge petty and misguided decisions wrongly made in the name of health and safety. Since then there has been more than 210 complaints to the Panel, with the huge majority of cases having no basis in law.NOTES TO EDITORSAnyone who suspects a case of ‘health and safety madness’ can contact the independent panel of experts if they feel they have been on the wrong end of a ridiculous decision at:

Press enquiries

All enquiries from journalists should be directed to the HSE Press Office.

Construction company and director in court after roof fall:

Over £25k in fines and costs for failing to take basic precautions...A Monmouth construction firm and its managing director have been fined for safety failings after a labourer fell more than four metres through a fragile barn roof, breaking his back on his first day working for the company.D & R Maintenance Solutions Ltd and John Dunmore were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after the incident which occurred while solar panels were being fitted to the roof of a barn at Claverdon, Warwickshire, on 24 February 2012.The 36-year-old man from Monmouth was carrying a solar panel when he fell through the fragile roof of the barn, landing on the concrete floor below. HSE found little had been provided to protect workers from falls.As well as fracturing two vertebrae in his lower back, requiring a brace to be worn for two months, he suffered a broken wrist which had to be pinned and a bruised heel. He returned to work after six months but no longer works in construction, and has been left with some restricted movement in his wrist.Leamington Spa Magistrates Court was told today (21 Nov) the company and its managing director, John Dunmore, were aware the roof was fragile and verbally warned employees to be careful, but did not ensure that the job was properly planned or carried out safely.HSE found equipment provided for accessing and working on the fragile roof was not suitable, and four employees were working unsafely using single scaffold boards and crawl boards without guardrails or harnesses, and at times stepping on the roof itself. No guardrails were in place around the roof perimeter to prevent falls from the edge, and no measures to mitigate the consequences of a fall through the fragile roof were in use, such as fall arrest harnesses, netting, or soft landing systems.The injured man and another colleague were both working for the firm for the first time that day but neither had been given proper instruction or training for working at height.D & R Maintenance Solutions Ltd of Cross Vane, Penalt, Monmouth, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £13,000 and ordered to pay £3,357 costs.Mr John Dunmore, 54, of Cross Vane, Penalt, Monmouth, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £7,000 and ordered to pay £3,357 costs.After the hearing, HSE inspector Luke Messenger said:“D & R Maintenance Solutions Limited, and Mr John Dunmore, its managing director, had received relevant previous verbal and written advice from HSE regarding work on fragile roofs but failed to take basic precautions to prevent falls.“As a result, an employee was injured on his first day with the company. Considering he fell 4.5 metres, he was fortunate not to suffer more serious or even fatal injuries.“The supervision of new employees was inadequate, despite the risks from work at height being widely known.“It is the biggest single cause of serious injury in construction, with falls through fragile surfaces accounting for a fifth of these.“Work at height must be properly planned and carried out safely, particularly when working on or near fragile roofs. Staff need to have the right equipment, receive correct training and supervision and safe operating procedures should be in place.”

Revised guidance to protect the health, safety and welfare of workers:

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published new help for employers on how to protect the health, safety and welfare of their workers.Following consultation, HSE has reviewed and updated the Workplace Regulations Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) (L24) to make it easier for employers, building owners, landlords and managing agents to understand and meet their legal obligations.The ACOP was one of several identified for review and revision, consolidation or withdrawal in line with a recommendation by Professor Ragnar Löfstedt in his reportReclaiming health and safety for all.The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 cover a wide range of health, safety and welfare issues and apply to most workplaces except for those involving work on construction sites, those who work in or on a ship and those who work below ground at a mine. Legal responsibilities to protect workers’ health and safety are not altered by any changes to the ACOP.HSE spokesman, Chris Rowe, said: “Across HSE we are working hard to ensure that employers have access to good quality advice which makes clear what they need to do to protect workers.“The revised ACOP has not only been updated, it will help employers understand the regulatory requirements on key issues such as temperature, cleanliness, workstations and seating, toilets and washing facilities.”The review of and subsequent revision to the Workplace ACOP was subject to public consultation and the changes were agreed by both the HSE Board and the minister of state for responsibility for health and safety.To view the revised publication visit the HSE website at:

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