HSE Inspector Spots Unsafe Work At Height Practices

  • Added:
    Jan 22, 2014
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HSE Inspector Spots Unsafe Work At Height Practices Photo by Carol Smith


A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector was passing by a textile recycling unit in Surrey when she noticed serious workplace safety failings, which eventually led to a trader being fined in a Westminster Magistrates Court hearing on January 9th.


The health and safety failings were spotted on August 30th 2012, when the passing inspector noticed two people were working close to the edge of a roof that did not have adequate edge protection.


The inspector immediately halted work at the unit, which was located on the Horton Close estate in Hillingdon's West Drayton. Two men were found to be working on a sloping roof with no workplace safety measures in place to prevent falls from height.


Falls from height are one of the most common causes of fatal accidents at work, with many survivors of these accidents suffering from serious and long-term health complications due to the fall. UK employment laws and health and safety laws under the Work at Height Regulations 2005 should help employers prevent these incidents from occurring, but many employers fail to adhere to these regulations.


An inspection in the Horton Close industrial unit workplace safety failings revealed that sole trader Rajesh Voralia, who traded as RTS Textile Recyclers and lived in Crownpits Lane, Goldaming, Surrey, had employed 60 individuals to help remove rags and unwanted clothes from two buildings.


A leak in the roof was discovered, and this leak was found to be spoiling the rags. Two men climbed on to the roof with an unsecured and damaged ladder that had worn feet and broken rungs. The ladder projected just 20cm above the sloping roof, which was fitted with several fragile floodlights.


However, the HSE was told that Mr Voralia had not told the two men to climb on to the roof, arguing that an assistant warehouse manager must have told them to do so.


He admitted breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £4,000, with costs of £3,500.
The workplace safety failings could have easily led to accident at work compensation claims and serious injuries for the two workers should they have fallen through the roof, as well as potentially catastrophic injuries for anyone who was underneath them as they fell.


Although there was no injury in this incident and although the employer managed to avoid accidents at work, this does not make the workplace safety failings any less serious.


HSE Inspector Jane Wolfenden said that Mr Voralia ought to have removed the ladder and other access equipment, and should have told his workers not to go on the roof.


She said that work at height is the biggest cause of serious injury and death in the UK's workplaces, saying that this task is "inherently fraught with risk".


People who have been injured in a workplace fall from height ought to speak to personal injury solicitors about claiming accident at work compensation.

Author's Profile

Carol Smith works alongside unions and health and safety representatives to drive down the number of personal injury compensation and accidents at work. She is also a keen student of UK employment law and keeps an eye on any UK law reviews so she can keep on top of any movements in the area.


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