A roofing firm, M&D Roof Coatings Ltd, has been sentenced after a worker was spotted balancing dangerously on a house roof during a routine inspection by the HSE in the town of Lymm. The company was prosecuted as the employee was photographed power washing a roof nearly five metres off the ground without any safety precautions in place.

HSE inspectors issued an immediate prohibition notice ordering the work to stop until scaffolding, edge protection or other safety equipment had been provided. The employee had not suffered an accident of any kind. However, at Halton Magistrates’ Court in Runcorn, the company was found guilty of breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 due to the fact that they had failed to make sure the work was planned and carried out safely. As a result, the company was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £7,269.

According to HSE statistics falls from height are among the biggest causes of workplace injuries and deaths in the workplace, with more than 4,000 workers suffering major injuries and 12 workers losing their lives as a result of falls from height. This case is a reminder that risk to the health and safety of workers – as opposed to actual harm – is the primary offence under the 1974 Act.