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July 15, 2010

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Workers had to balance on roof during barn repairs

An incident in which a worker was critically injured in an eight-metre fall from a barn roof resulted in fines for three men involved in the project.

Trafford Magistrates’ Court, sitting on 13 July, heard that John Long, owner of a derelict riding stable in Sale, was acting as project manager to renovate the site into an antiques warehouse. He hired Andrew Oliver to carry out the work who, in turn, sub-contracted Adrian Evens to strip and replace the barn’s roof panels. Long was not aware that Evens had been sub-contracted to be responsible for the roof-work and thought he was one of Oliver’s employees.

On 20 June 2007, David Pass, 28 from Droylsden, and two other men were removing asbestos-cement sheets from the roof, while balancing on the steel frame of the building. He stepped on to one of the panels, which gave way, and he fell to the ground. He was rushed to hospital with head and back injuries and was in a coma for several days. He has been left partially blind in one eye and is still unable to return to work owing to his injuries.

A Prohibition Notice was issued to Evens, Long, and Oliver on the day after the accident, requiring that work at the site to stoped until a safe method of work was in place. HSE inspector Ian Betley said no scaffolding or protection had been provided for the workers, and Prohibition Notices were issued against all three men, as it was not apparent at the time who was responsible for the work.

He said: “David could easily have been killed when he fell through a fragile roof panel. Workers at the site were expected to balance dangerously on the steel structure, while they knocked through bolts on fragile sheets. Clearly, this was very dangerous.

“All three men failed to plan the work safely in advance. Scaffolding, or a mobile work platform such as a scissor lift, should have been used to remove the corrugated sheets from underneath. There was no need to climb on to the roof.”

Evens pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974 and was fined £2000 and ordered to pay £2000 towards costs. Oliver and Long both pleaded guilty to breaching s3(2) of the same Act. Oliver was fined £2000 and £2000 in costs. Long was fined £1000 with costs of £1500.

In mitigation, the court heard that none of the men had any related previous convictions. Following the incident, Oliver and Evens took no further part in the redevelopment. Long introduced a new safe system of work and hired a competent contractor to finish the work. The contractor used a mechanical MEWP to carry out the remaining roof-work.

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13 years ago

Interesting details on the work at height issues, without expanding on the asbestos hazards.
We can only assume the competent contractor ‘s safe system of work complied with all the asbestos regulations, unless there is a follow-up story to this article.