A roofing company and its Managing Director have been fined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after workers were seen cleaning a roof with a jet washer.
The HSE was alerted to the safety breach after a member of public took a photo of a man using a jet washer on the roof of a semi-detached house in the Tyldesley area of Greater Manchester on June 6th 2013.
Photo Used to Prosecute
The photo was used to prosecute IQ Roofing Solutions and its Managing Director Stuart Bell, the photo shows a man standing on the edge of a roof, without any safety harnesses or scaffolding, using a jet washer to remove dirt from tiles.
If any of the tiles had fallen off due to the intense pressure of the jet washer, the man would probably have lost his balance and fallen more than five metres to the ground below.
Although it appears as though the man was successful in removing moss and other debris from the building, emerging unscathed, the HSE visited the site later that day and immediately issued a Prohibition Notice ordering the workers to come down from the roof.
Trafford Magistrates' Court heard that Stuart Bell, of IQ Roofing, had visited the site on the morning of the reported guideline breach and knew that the risky moss removal operation would take place.
But worse than this was the fact that IQ Roofing did not have basic Employers' Liability Insurance, which is required under law so that staff members can claim work accident compensation if they have been involved in a workplace accident.
For its part in the failings seen in June 2013, IQ Roofing Solutions was fined £3,000 and told to pay £2,000 in prosecution costs after executives pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and one breach of the Employers' Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969.
Mr Bell was also prosecuted by the HSE, and was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,619 after admitting two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
"Lives Put in Danger"
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Laura Moran hit out at IQ Roofing Solutions for failing to ensure that its employees were looked after.
"Falls from height are responsible for around a third of workplace deaths every year, with 25 people losing their lives in 2012-13 alone. I'd therefore like to thank the member of the public who alerted us to the work, as they may well have prevented a serious injury," she said.
"Both IQ Roofing Solutions and Stuart Bell put workers' lives in danger by allowing them onto a slippery roof without safety measures in place. This meant that workers could have been badly injured.
"If workers had been injured then they may not have been able to claim compensation as the firm also failed to provide us with any proof that it had Employers' Liability Insurance."
IQ Roofing Solutions still operates in the north Manchester area.
By Francesca Witney