Prosecution for health and safety breaches does not always occur only following an accident or incident, as the director of an Ipswich roofing firm has found out to his cost.
A member of the public saw the director and one of his employees working on the roof and, feeling concerned for their safety, reported them to the HSE. It was found that they had been using a petrol-powered disc-cutter while perched on the roof tiles, and had failed to use an appropriate roof ladder to access the roof.
The men were also seen walking along the roof ridges, without any safety measures in place that could prevent a fall or break a fall. The director of the roofing company was subsequently taken to court for putting his own life and that of his employee at risk.
He was fined £1300 and ordered to pay costs of three thousand pounds. Recent figures from the Health and Safety Executive show that four thousand workers were seriously injured in falls from height in 2010/11, and that fifteen people died, making working at height one of the most high-risk occupations.
The only way to reduce the number of such accidents is for workers and their employers to receive appropriate training and to follow the guidance set out in the Work at Height Regulations 2005.