Roofing contractor fined after fatal fall

AN Aberdeen-based roofing contractor has been fined after an employee fell to his death from a ladder while exiting scaffolding in the city.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard that on 21 September 2016, Joseph Kane, an employee of Henderson and Aitken Limited, fell from the top rungs of a ladder when it slipped sideways on the scaffold. Mr Kane died of multiple injuries.

The scaffolding had been erected by Henderson and Aitken Limited employees, with the ladder tied using a blue nylon cord to the scaffold ledger at only the left stile.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) specialist inspector carried out the investigation, and estimated the lateral movement of the ladder due to the lack of fixity was approximately 20cm.

Through the investigation, HSE found that a Henderson and Aitken employee erected the scaffold even though he was not a qualified or competent scaffolder. A company director had asked the employee to do this, despite the director being aware that he was unqualified. The director then allowed three people to access the scaffold. The investigation concluded that the scaffold was not erected to the correct standard.

Henderson and Aitken Limited of Aberdeen pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 of Work at Height Regulations 2005 and Section 33 (1) (c) of HSWA. A fine of £53,000 was given.

Niall Miller, HSE principal inspector, said, “Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities in this country and the risks associated with working at height are well known.

“This tragic and preventable death highlights the need for those undertaking work at height to ensure that it is carried out safely, that industry guidance is followed and that the relevant regulations are complied with. It is vitally important that those planning and arranging for such work give sufficient regard to the risks posed to workers and members of the public through their actions.”