Lack of experience leads to Principal Contractor being fined £360k

Both a Principal Contractor and other contractors have been fined following a worker falling over 7 metres through a fragile roof which was being replaced.

Our belief is that the client was lucky not to be prosecuted as a key requirement on them is to ensure that those they appoint are competent and adequately resourced – a point of note for all clients.  If the case had been heard under the 2015 Regs the client would also be likely to have been found guilty.

Rafal Myslimm was standing on a asbestos sheeting when this gave way and he fell to the concrete floor below, as he fell he hit a number of metal pipes – no safety netting or other fall protection had been provided, he suffered a haematoma to the brain.

HSE found that three companies were at fault, Dengie Crops Ltd had contracted Ernest Doe & Sons Ltd, an agricultural machinery supplier, to help the company replace their roof.  However, they recognised that they themselves lacked the appropriate experience and subcontracted the work to Balsham ( Buildings) Ltd.

Balsham assessed the requirements and subsequently subcontracted the replacement work to Strong Clad Ltd.. However, Ernest Doe & Sons Ltd remained the Principal Contractor under the CDM Regulations but were unable to perform this role effectively due to their lack of experience in construction, it shoudl be noted that Balsham had highlighted to them the risk of a fall.

Outcomes

None of the three parties involved put in place safety measures for the 40% of the roof which was not protected with safety netting and relied too heavily on the verbal briefings to workers regarding where the netting was situated, rather than simply putting in place these measures for the whole roof.

  • Ernest Doe & Sons Ltd – of Ulting, Essex, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 22 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and were fined £360,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,000
  • Balsham (Buildings) Ltd – of Balsham, Cambridge, pleaded guilty to breaching 4(1)(a) and 4(1)(c) of the Work at Height Regulation 2005. They were fined £45,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,000
  • Strong Clad Ltd – of Castle Hedingham, Essex, pleaded guilty to breaching 4(1)(a) and 4(1)(c) of the Work at Height Regulation 2005. They were fined £7,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,000

HSE inspector Adam Hills said:

“The dangers of working on fragile roofs are well documented. Every year too many people are killed or seriously injured due to falls from height while carrying out this work.

Work at height requires adequate planning, organisation and communication between all parties. This incident was entirely preventable and Mr Myslim is lucky to be alive.”

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