Roofing bosses skip scaffold to speed up invoices
A roofing contractor and its two directors have been sentenced after admitting working unsafely at height on a hotel development in central Manchester during a major refurbishment job.
In 2015, a member of public witnessed and photographed unsafe work at a construction site in Manchester and reported it to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The Manchester Magistrates Court heard that the photograph showed Jake Clarke, one of a pair of directors from Enviroply Roofing Limited. Aaron Hepworth, his fellow director was also spotted walking along a beam to pass something to Clarke even though there was nothing to prevent or mitigate a fall from this beam.
Further investigations by the HSE found that there was a full-time scaffolder on site, who was employed to build any scaffolding required by contractors. However, on this occasion, Enviroply and its directors chose to rush the work to submit their invoice as early as possible. Both directors were putting their lives at risk, as the fall would have been one storey high, and onto timber beans below. All three defendants failed to take the proper precautions to manage the risk of a significant fall from height, despite there being adequate provision on site to provide them with scaffolding and safe working platforms.
Enviroply Roofing Limited of Chorley pleaded guilty to safety breaches and were fined £13,300 with £1160.50 costs. Jake Joseph Clarke of Leyland, Preston pleaded guilty and was fined £1100 with £1160.50 costs. Aaron Paul Hepworth of Radcliffe also pleaded guilty and was fined £2100 with £1160.50 costs.
HSE inspector, Matt Greenly, said after the case:
“Enviroply Roofing Limited had a duty to protect any employees, even the directors, from a risk of a fall from height. Mr Clarke and Mr Hepworth in their position as directors recognised that their choices on that day placed themselves at a serious risk of death or life changing injury and admitted as much for themselves and their company. They only realised afterwards that running those risks to submit an invoice early was a very unnecessary, considering how serious the consequences could have been. It is pure luck that no-one was injured or killed. I would like to thank the people who reported these concerns to us as they have been instrumental in saving the lives of these men. It is hoped that other construction workers will see these cases as a warning that HSE will act robustly to concerns received and perhaps they will take a little more time to protect themselves on their next site.”
Chris Chapman, Technical Manager at the Building Safety Group said:
The impact of a major accident on a company can be devastating. Apart from the human cost, the financial costs can be enough to force a business to cease trading. Figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimate the yearly cost of workplace injuries and ill health in the construction industry to be over £1.2bn. In addition to the direct costs there are indirect costs such as damage to the reputation of a company, putting future work at risk. This is one of the reasons why so many businesses involved in the construction industry become BSG members. We are here to help our members minimise the risk of accidents in the workplace and to keep them up to date and compliant with all health, safety and environmental regulations.
We have highly qualified safety advisers based throughout the UK, BSG conducts over 18,000 regular site inspections every year, providing ‘muddy boots advice’ at the workface. Having a local and dedicated safety adviser as the ‘eyes on your site’ will help to evaluate the potential risk of an accident and take the necessary steps to minimise danger.