Roofing boss is fined

A Donside roofing boss has been fined after one of his workers was seriously injured when he fell five metres from the edge of a flat roof.

Alister McNeilly, 26, worked for Brian George Mackie, who traded as Donside Slating which specialises in roofing work.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard that on November 10 2010, Mr McNeilly was working with a colleague to fix lead onto the flat roof area of a house in Strathdon.

Mr McNeilly was throwing lead cut-offs onto the ground while standing on the flat roof when he either slipped or inadvertently stepped off the edge. He lost his balance and fell five metres to the ground, landing on his right side near a skip.

His right hip ball joint was severed from his thigh bone and a metal plate and four pins had to be inserted. He was in hospital for four days and was off work for 16 weeks. He has largely made a full recovery but still experiences pain in his hip.

Following the incident, an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that no scaffold platform with guard-rails and toe-boards or any other form of fall prevention equipment were in place to prevent falls either from the edges of the flat roof or at the edge of the lower porch roof.

The investigation also revealed that Mr Mackie had not been to the site that morning or in the three or four days prior to the incident and had not given any specific instructions about how to do the work.

At Aberdeen Sheriff Court today, Brian George Mackie, 43, of Auld Kirk, Rough Park, Strathdon, was fined £15,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 4 of The Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After sentencing, HSE inspector Liz Standen said: “Mr McNeilly was very lucky to survive a five metre fall.

“He suffered serious injuries because his employer did not ensure that the flat roof area was safe to use, with the necessary fall prevention equipment in place, before work started and he did not given any specific instructions about how to carry out the work safely.

“This incident was completely avoidable if Mr Mackie had planned the work in advance and simple measures such as suitable barriers had been in place.”

In 2010/11, 38 people (both employees and self-employed) in Britain died and there were 3,177 serious injuries after work-related falls from height. Guidance on working at height safely can be found at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/workingatheight.htm

* Regulation 4 of The Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: “Every employer shall ensure that work at height is (a) properly planned; (b) appropriately supervised; and (c) carried out in a manner which is so far as is reasonably practicable safe, and that its planning includes the selection of work equipment in accordance with regulation 7.