At Bristol Magistrates Court today (2 November) the Park House Hostel Ltd pleaded guilty to two health and safety offences arising from an investigation into unsafe work on the roof at their hostel in Mina Rd, St Werburghs.
The company was ordered to pay a total of £19,307 including a fine of £15,000 and £4,187 prosecution costs.
The case followed a fatal accident on 17 October 2015 when a resident at the hostel fell from the roof and suffered fatal injuries. It was not known why he was on the roof that afternoon and an inquest returned a verdict of accidental death. However, the investigation by Bristol City Council’s Regulatory Services team found that the company running the hostel had failed to ensure that people who worked on the roof, including the resident who died in the fall, did so safely.
The council’s Health and Safety inspectors found that local residents had been concerned for several months about the way in which work was being carried out on the roof. Inspection of the hostel and further investigation found that work on the roof was done in an unsafe manner. There was no edge protection for work on the eaves or from a flat roof, the tower scaffold at the hostel was rusty and no-one had been trained to use it safely or to check it before use. There was no ‘Fragile Roof’ sign warning workers that an asbestos roof was unsafe to stand on, and in general work at height was not properly planned or supervised, and the risk assessment had not been done properly.
Following the investigation a council Health and Safety Inspector served a Prohibition Notice on the company requiring them to ensure that all work at height was carried out safely. The council found that this had been complied with in August 2016.
The Park House Hostel Ltd pleaded guilty to an offence under section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 of failing to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of people not in their employment, such as self-employed building contractors. The company also pleaded guilty to an offence under 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 of failing to ensure that the work at height was properly planned, supervised and carried out in a safe way.
In passing sentence the court took into account the defendant’s full co-operation with the council to rectify the situation and also the contribution to the community the company makes in running the hostel.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), falls from heights remains one of the three main causes of fatal accidents at work. In 2016/17, 25 out of 137 fatal accidents at work were caused by falls from heights and the fatal accident rate over the past five years for self-employed people is more than twice that of employees.*
Councillor Fi Hance, Cabinet Member for regulatory services, said: “Our Health and Safety Inspectors target high risk premises and activities to ensure that people at work and people visiting workplaces have their health and safety protected. They endeavour to work with business to offer advice, but will also take appropriate action where there have been serious breaches of health and safety law.”
To request advice or information or to make a complaint about workplace conditions, call (0117) 922 2500 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org