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Roofing firm hit with major fine following serious fall incident

Roofing firm hit with major fine following serious fall incident
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

A roofing company has been fined £881,000 for work at height failings, following an accident that seriously injured two workers in two separate incidents

The first incident in 2019 involved Billy Hewitt, a worker at Matie Tilley Roofing Limited. He fractured his pelvis when he fell through a factory roof in Newcastle. The second incident, also in 2019, saw a 24-year-old labourer employed by RM Scaffolding break his femur, after falling through the roof of a building in Swansea. He too was working on a project run by Mitie Tilley Roofing Limited.

Billy Hewitt, 60 years old, had been replacing a skylight on the roof of a factory in Throckley, Newcastle upon Tyne. He fell through the roof seven metres to the concrete floor below, fracturing his pelvis, left wrist and eye socket. Mr Hewitt was in hospital for three weeks.

“You don’t go to work in the morning and expect to end up in intensive care but that’s what happened to me,” said Mr Hewitt.

“It’s been four years since my accident and I don’t really do anything with my days. I really miss work. I was a roofer for 40 years but this accident changed everything because I still can’t work. I used to earn a good wage, but now I’m classed as 51% disabled and I rely entirely on benefits.”

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated, and found that Mitie Tilley Roofing Limited failed to properly plan and carry out the work to replace the skylight. The work at height wasn’t thoroughly assessed as a standalone piece of work. Safety nets were in place on other sections of the roof, but HSE discovered they were not placed directly underneath the skylight where the accident happened.

Another worker, 24 years old, employed by RM Scaffolding, was working on a roof unit at Plasmarl Industrial Estate in Swansea. He was crossing a fragile roof and fell through a skylight 20 feet to the ground. The scaffold labourer fractured his femur and suffered a blood clot in one of his main arteries, which required long-term medication.

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Mitie Tilley Roofing Limited were designated as principal contractor for this project. HSE found they had failed to plan, manage and monitor the work undertaken by RM Scaffolding, the sub-contractor, to prevent unsafe work practices being used. RM Scaffolding business partner Paul Robinson had also failed to plan the work properly, ensure staff had appropriate skills, knowledge and experience, and to provide appropriate fall protection on the roof.

All parties pleaded guilty to breaches of health and safety law. Following three days of hearings to determine sentencing, the judge issued the following sentences:

§  For the incident that injured Billy Hewitt, Mitie Tilley Roofing Limited were fined £575,000 and £84,940 in costs.

§  For the incident that injured the scaffold labourer, Mitie Tilley Roofing Limited were fined £306,000 with £27,410 in costs.

§  For the same incident, Paul Robinson was sentenced to 120 hours of unpaid community service, to be served within 12 months. He was also ordered to pay £20,428 in costs.

HSE Principal Inspector John Heslop said after the hearing: “Too many workers are injured or die every year as a result of falling through fragile rooflights without adequate fall prevention or protection measures in place.

“These were both shocking incidents, which had a lasting impact on those who were injured.

“The law is clear about the measures needed to ensure safety when working on fragile roofs and there is a wide range of guidance available from HSE and the Construction industry on correct ways of working. HSE will not hesitate to take action against employers who do not do all that they should to keep people safe.”

For information on using ladders safely at work, visit BrAInbox today where you can find answers to questions like Where can ladders be used?

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