In August of last year, IFZW Maintenance Ltd was was discovered to be implementing unsafe work practices at a height at a crematorium in Swansea. The maintenance company had been contracted to install fans in Morriston Crematorium in conjunction with a new mercury-abatement system. Anne Marie Orrells, a Health Safety Executive (HSE) inspector, visited the site unannounced visit and witnessed two of the company’s workers working on the roof without the aid of any manner of edge protection.
Furthermore, in order to access the roof they were using an unsecured ladder, which was leaning against a wall that members of the public had easy access to. The company was ordered to halt work until the safety concerns were address by a Prohibition Notice served by the HSE.
Inspector Orrells said that their work method had not been planned adequately, saying –
“It was entirely foreseeable that people could fall when accessing and working on the crematorium roof. The installation of the fans was seen as short-duration work and was done in the absence of safety measures. The decision to work in this manner is indicative of poor planning and management for work at height.”
IFZW Maintenance had made themselves known to the HSE before. Nine weeks previously, at a site in Sheffield, the HSE had issued a Prohibition Notice to the company for work that was being done out atop cremator equipment without the aid of fall protection.
On 27 June IFZW Maintenance pleaded guilty to breaching reg.4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was subsequently ordered to pay fines of £11,500 and £3208 in costs.
To conclude, Inspector Orrells said –
“A fall from the roof could have proved fatal and posed a clear risk to members of the public attending funeral services. The dangers of working at height are well known and the standards are well established within industry and legislation.”