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A self-employed building contractor from Chippenham has been fined for exposing workers to serious risk of injury after they were seen working on a barn roof with nothing to guard against a fall.

Ian Pitman, 56, exposed three workers to the risk of falling some eight metres from the roof but the dangers were spotted by a passing Inspector from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Swindon Magistrates’ Court heard today (27 Jan) that on 4 July 2013 the Inspector was passing a farm in Burton, Wiltshire, where a new barn was being erected. He saw the men installing roof sheets but without any means of preventing or mitigating a fall from the perimeter of the steel frame or from the leading edge of the roof sheets.

The Inspector issued an immediate Prohibition Notice preventing any further work at height until safety measures were put in place to protect the workers.

HSE’s subsequent investigation found that Ian Pitman had been contracted to build the barn and had employed the three workers, who do not wish to be identified, to assist with construction.

He had failed to ensure that protective measures, such as scaffold edge protection and safety netting, were in place to prevent or mitigate a fall from height, leaving the three men at risk of serious or fatal injury.

Ian Pitman, of Honeyknobb Hill, Kington St Michael, Chippenham, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £735 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Ian Whittles said:

“Ian Pitman neglected to implement basic safety measures to minimise the risks of falls, despite having been the subject of formal enforcement action by HSE on the inadequate planning of working at height on a previous occasion.

“The dangers of working at height are well known in the construction industry yet poor safety standards and lack of safeguards still exist among some contractors.

“For the last ten years or so there has been a significant increase in the number of incidents involving falls from the roofs agricultural buildings. This prosecution should serve as a reminder to all contractors to properly plan any work at height and make sure robust safety precautions are in place. All employers have a legal duty to manage safety and failing to do so can end in tragedy.”

Further information about working safely at height can be found on the HSE website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/falls

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