Building

Accidents do Happen

Written by Gil Durrant June 2, 2021 0 comment

Accidents do Happen

Accidents Do Happen

Even to Safety Consultants accidents do happen or in this case their relatives.

This occurred at my son’s house on 27 January 2021 during remedial roof work. A tile fell from the roof hit a car and bounced off narrowly missing a person. The work was initiated by the builder of the estate and sub contracted to a roofing company.

The video explains it all. The person who could have been  killed was one of the sub contractors. The car belonged to my son.

A fatality waiting to happen?  Accidents do Happen

This accident could easily have resulted in a fatality to any person walking past including one of the many young children and babies that live in and around these properties . There were no diversions around the path, no nets on the scaffolding to prevent loose debris and nobody in the properties were even notified that work was commencing.

When accidents do happen what is the first response?

Deny it ever happened. The contractors stated it was nothing to do with them. Shame that the video evidence proved otherwise!

Subsequent response

The story does not end there as after the incident there was no attempt by the men on site nor their management to take any action. There was no safety helmet on site and no change to their working practice. Despite phone calls and emails to senior executives the response from the company was woefully inadequate.

What should have been the response?

There should have been an order to stop work followed by an immediate investigation. After which appropriate action taken to ensure that there could be no re-occurrence.  Instead, there was not even an acceptance that they had done anything wrong.

HSE and the police were informed.

What should have been in place before the work started?

This work involved the repairing many defective roofs on the estate.  One would expect this to be under CDM 2015. If so where was the supervision? Where was the Risk Assessment or method statement?  If there was either it was certainly not apparent.

The HSE publication Health and Safety in Roof Work (fifth Edition) Paragraph 23 states: A competent person should carry out a risk assessment before work starts on a roof. It needs to be appropriate to the scale and complexity of the work. In all cases, the competent person will need to be trained to make sure that the hazards are identified, the degree of risk is determined and appropriate control measures are put in place to prevent accidents happening.

Paragraph 24 states: A method statement is a useful way of recording the hazards involved in specific work at height tasks and communicating the risk and precautions required to everyone involved in the work. It should identify working positions and access routes to and on the roof, and show:

■ falls can be prevented, or where this is not possible, minimised;

■ that danger to people at work below, and to the public, from falling materials will be controlled;

■ how risks to health will be controlled;

■ where other risks identified at planning and survey stages are to be controlled, eg handling hot bitumen;

■ what equipment will be needed;

■ what competence and/or training is needed;

■ who will supervise the job on site;

■ how changes in the work will be dealt with without affecting safe working; and

■ who will check that the system is effectively controlling risk.

Accidents Do Happen – Conclusion

There are many accidents and incidents in the construction industry.  Therefore appropriate Risk Assessments must be in place which are followed and monitored. Where there are accidents these must be investigated in a timely manner and action taken.

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