Huge fines follow industrial accident

A scaffolding firm and the owner of a roofing company have been fined after a worker suffered serious injuries when he plunged nine metres through a warehouse roof in Watford.

Stephen Allibon was walking on fragile asbestos cement sheeting during roofing work on August 13, 2012 when it gave way. He fell onto a metal pallet and then a concrete floor.

He sustained three fractures to his right arm, multiple fractures to his face and head, a punctured lung, damage to his chest and a severe gash to his right leg.

Mr Allibon, who is still unable to work, now has reduced movement in his right arm and right leg, numbness in his left arm, and suffers chest problems and dizzy spells.

His employer, Beekay Scaffolding Ltd, and contractor William Thomas Toone, trading as Industrial Roofing Services (IRS), were both prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found they had both failed to make sure the work was carried out safely.

On Monday, Northampton Magistrates’ Court heard Beekay had been contracted by IRS to erect scaffolding for a warehouse roof repair in Watford village.

Repair work to the roof was planned in two stages. However, poor management meant that when Mr Allibon was moving scaffolding poles for the second phase, there was no edge protection and no netting remaining under the perimeter of the roof where he was walking, nor were they using platforms.

Beekay Scaffolding Ltd of Kingsthorpe, Northampton, was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,640 after admitting two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and a single breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. William Thomas Toone, trading as Industrial Roofing Services (IRS), of Roade was fined £2,500 and ordered to pay costs of £1,400 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Richard Lockwood said: “Mr Allibon suffered very serious injuries, but we could easily be talking about a fatal incident. Simple, straightforward, common sense procedures could have prevented this fall and the severe consequences it has had for one worker and his family.

“Both IRS and Beekay Scaffolding fell very far short of a safe and reasonable standard. They were clearly informed of the dangers. If properly used, the precautions would have reduced the risk to a minimal level.”