Michael Sweet, 48, from Stockport, was cleaning out the guttering at Aramex (UK) Ltd on the Ringway Trading Estate near Manchester Airport on 12 December 2011 when he stepped on a fragile panel and fell to the concrete floor below.
Aramex and Mr Sweet’s employer, roofing contractor Gary Edwards, were both prosecuted by HSE
after an investigation found no safety measures had been put in place.
The HSE investigation found Aramex had also ignored its own health and safety guidelines. The company failed to supervise the work or assess how it would be carried out, despite knowing the roof was fragile.
Aramex was fined £250,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £20,000. Gary Edwards received a four-month prison sentence suspended for one year, which means he will be sent to prison if he commits another offence in the next year.
Michael Sweet’s death is not the only fatality at work investigated by HSE. Every year several workers are killed or seriously injured by falling through building roofs made of fragile material. These are preventable accidents.
Building owners and occupiers – action required:
- control access to their roofs
- provide signs warning of fragility at suitable access points
- check the competence of anyone they employ to work on roofs and
- check the contractors or workers take precautions to prevent someone falling through or off the roof
Contractors and workers – action required:
- Contractors and workers should treat any roof as a fragile surface unless they have sound information to prove otherwise
- only take on work for which they are competent
- only work on the roof if there is no other reasonable way of tackling the job
- take suitable precautions to prevent falls through or off the roof
- train and supervise workers properly
There is plenty of advice on HSE's web site about how to do roofwork safely.