Two roofers who took an ‘incredibly foolish risk’ – by working at the top of a seven storey building without any safety equipment preventing them from falling – have been fined.
Horrified office workers, ironically at a health and safety course in a block opposite, took this shocking picture from their window after seeing Aaron Hepworth and Jake Clarke working at the King Street townhouse, in the city centre, which has now opened as a hotel.
The pair, who were directors and the sole employees of Enviroply Roofing Ltd, which boasts on its Facebook page that its work has featured on TV shows Grand Designs and DIY SOS, had been working on the site for about 30 minutes without any form of safety equipment.
During that period, Hepworth was seen walking along the beam to pass something to his colleague, before walking back again.
Manchester Magistrates Court was told that the pair had been employed by contractors and that on the last day of their work, on March 17 last year, they had been installing a waterproof membrane on the roof.
The court heard the job would take an hour at most, but instead of asking an on-site scaffolder to make the area safe as they should have done, they took a ‘shortcut’ in order to finish the job quicker.
After receiving the shocking images, the Health and Safety Executive were scrambled to the site to order the pair down and launch an investigation.
Craig Morris, prosecuting, said: “They have taken an incredibly foolish risk with their own lives despite their own experiences of completing roofing work.
“You don’t need special knowledge to realise the obvious and significant risks in this case. Both gentlemen know better than to work like this.”
Now the company has been fined £13,300, with Hepworth fined £2,100 and Clarke fined £1,100.
The court was told the job they were doing on the day of the incident was ‘additional’ to the contract agreed, but that there was ‘inadequate thought’ given to the job before they started.
District judge Nicholas Sanders said: “They had been roofers for some time and took a shortcut in these circumstances.”
He said that any fall the pair had suffered would have only been one storey, but that this still represented a risk of causing serious injury or even death.
However Mr Morris said the pair had taken a ‘very commendable approach’ following the incident by apologising to contractors and co-operating with the HSE.
Hepworth, 27, and Clarke, 29, told HSE they wanted to work with them, seeking advice about receiving formal safety training.
After the case, HSE inspector Matt Greenly said: “It is rare, even for an HSE Inspector to see such blatant disregard for safety captured on camera.
“It is a matter of pure luck that no-one was injured or killed by working at height in the manner seen by the photographs provided by the members of the public.
“I would like to thank the people who reported these concerns to us as they have been instrumental in saving the lives of these men.
“It is hoped that other construction workers will see these cases as a warning that HSE will act robustly to concerns received and perhaps they will take a little more time to protect themselves on their next site.”
The Chorley based company, which started trading in March 2014 and is now solely run by Clarke, must also pay a victim surcharge of £120.
Hepworth, of Prestolee Road, Radcliffe, was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £120.
Clarke, of Crown Street, Leyland, must pay a victim surcharge of £110.
Costs of £1,161,50 will be shared between the three defendants.
The company and Hepworth and Clarke all pleaded guilty to single counts of contravening a health and safety regulation.