The death of a worker following his fall from the roof of a five-storey building has provided employers with an important reminder about the importance of implementing sufficient health and safety measures in the workplace.

H20 Plumbing Services, a Birmingham maintenance company, was contracted to carry out repairs on two motor rooms situated on the roof of a building on the Hagley Road, Birmingham.

Due to a lack of space, two workers set up a mixing station outside of a protected area, consisting of tarpaulin sheet placed on top of the roof with a plasterer’s bath placed on top. The corners of the tarpaulin sheet were weighted down with bags of rubble, however, while cleaning up at the end of the day wind caused the sheet to blow open and land over the edge of the building. When one of the workers tried to retrieve the sheet he stepped off the side of the building, falling 14 metres and suffering fatal injuries.

Graeme Dryden, technical manager at APHC, said: "This case serves as an important reminder to employees about the vital role health and safety procedures play in helping to prevent workplace incidents. Employers have a responsibility to protect the welfare of their staff and, as evidenced by the incident with H20 Plumbing, the penalties of not taking care to do so can be severe.”

An investigation carried out by Health & Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident found that H20 Plumbing Services had failed to ensure the safety of its employees during the external repair work. The company pleaded guilty to breaching section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £100,000, with costs to pay of £25,000.

HSE Inspector Amy Kalay said: "This incident was obviously foreseeable. The employees of H20 working at the site were effectively left to their own devices with equipment and a system that was not wholly suited to the task at hand. A suitable and sufficient assessment of the risk, suitable planning, implementation of suitable control measures and adequate and effective site supervision would have prevented this incident from occurring."