Companies fined for work at height breaches after boss is blown off roof

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The boss of a firm was blown off this roof because three firms breached work at height regulationsThree construction companies have been fined for work at height breaches after a boss received serious injuries when a gust of wind blew him off a roof.

Bowmer and Kirkland Ltd, Advance Roofing Ltd and JKW Roofing were working on the roof of a three-storey block at Abbotsfield School for Boys in Hillingdon.

On February 23, 2017 Storm Doris was moving across the UK bringing gusts up to 94 mph. There were numerous warnings on site and many activities had been suspended, Westminster Magistrates’ Court was told.

But the works continued until the early afternoon when a gust blew JKW Roofing company director John Whitham 11 metres off the roof, along with freestanding barriers and stacks of insulation. He sustained severe injuries from which he continues to suffer.

Bowmer and Kirkland was the principal contractor on the project. Advanced Roofing was contracted to carry out roofing works and had sub-contracted works on the main building to JKW Roofing.

An HSE investigation found all three contractors had failed to ensure that a suitable and sufficient system to assess the effects of high wind when working at height was being followed. 

They had taken an informal approach to assessing weather conditions which was not in line with industry standards.

Bowmer and Kirkland, of High Edge Court Street, Belper, Derbyshire, admitted breaching Work at Height Regulations 2005 and were fined £350,000 with £6,190 costs.

Advanced Roofing, of Littlewell Lane, Stanton-By-Dale, Derbyshire, also admitted breaching Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £29,300 with £6,187 costs.

JKW Roofing Services, of Gedling Road, Arnold, Nottinghamshire, also pleaded guilty to breaching the regulations and received a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £6,159 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Gabriella Dimitrov said: “Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to the workers in the safe system of working. 

“If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the life changing injuries sustained by Mr Whitham could have been prevented.”

Mick Brennan, Health and Safety manager at EP Risk Consultancy said: “This case emphasises the need to review generic risk assessments and tool box talks and then to complete a dynamic risk assessment for the work-based tasks to be completed.

“It also shows directors are responsible for all those that may be affected by the actions of their employees and it includes them.