A construction contractor has been fined after one of their employees fell 6 metres to his death while installing roof sheets on a new agricultural building.

The incident occurred on 11 May 2016. The HSE served an immediate prohibition notice banning all work on the roof, the following day. Only remedial works by competent contractors were permitted due to insufficient measures having been in place to prevent persons falling from a height, that could cause personal injury.

After investigating, the HSE found that the company had failed to provide adequate edge protection. Further, suitable and sufficient assessment of the risk from the use of edge protection had not been carried out. Lastly, employees installing and supervising the edge protection work had received inadequate training.

The construction contractor pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. They were fined £100,000 and were ordered to pay costs of £11,060.40.

According to Kate Leftly, an HSE inspector, “Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work related fatalities in this country and the risks associated with working at height are well known.” There were 27 deaths and 13,000 non-fatal injuries to employees in forestry, agriculture and fishing in 2016/17, according to HSE statistics.

The incident followed a press release on 2 January 2018, detailing a month long campaign by the HSE to raise awareness of the risks involved in construction works in the agricultural sector. The campaign aimed to remind farmers to manage or avoid the risks involved in building repair and maintenance on farms.

HSE inspectors visited farms throughout January, to ensure risks during building maintenance, such as falls from height, were being controlled. They monitored whether the right equipment was being used, specialist contractors were used for high-risk tasks, work at height could be avoided, the use of safety signs on fragile roofs, and the skills and training of employees.

The dangers of asbestos exposure during maintenance and repair work were also highlighted.