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To spend or not to spend? What is the cost?

Recently, very recently, this is what I saw. It is not uncommon. I have plenty of photos like this that I have taken in and around the area in which I live.

I was standing with a neighbour and I commented “would you do that?” No he said, “but could you imagine what they would charge if they did the job properly?”

So I took the challenge and worked out what it would cost to give the guys proper equipment. I also worked out what it would cost if one of them fell.

The first one was easy. I looked at the hierarchy of control for working at height.

  1. Do the work from the ground. Not possible under these circumstances.
  2. Provide suitable access equipment. Also not possible except by a ladder (which you cannot see in the photo).
  3. Minimise the risks of the distance and consequences of a fall. There are various options of netting, crash bags etc, but a harness is the obvious answer. But what do you attach the harness to? A quick look on the internet came up with a cost effective and lifesaving answer.

A roof anchor kit. Cost £249 (plus VAT), including the anchor device plus 4 screws, ruck sack, rope grab rocker, 10m of 11mm rope, 2 x carabiner and 2-point rigger harness (installed in seconds and easy to remove). Can be used with tiles or slates.

If you already have a harness and rope then the roof anchor device and 4 screws can be bought for £54.99 plus VAT.

Conclusion: Cost to protect your employees from falling from height – £55 to £250.

Cost if one or both of them fell:

Standard risk assessment looks at the likelihood that they will fall and the consequences if they do. In this case both men were wearing unsuitable footwear, no protection devices and the roof angle was steep. The chances of falling are fairly likely.

There were no roof guards to stop them falling off the edge and the van was parked next to the wall and that would ensure that they hit the sharp edge of the roof carrier before falling to the ground. The consequences would range from broken bones to paralysis or even death.

There are also the implications of equipment falling off the roof and landing on a passer-by below. In this case it might be the owner or members of the owner’s family.

The two cases that I found on the prosecution area of the HSE website shows a case where there was no injury but the potential for one, as in my picture above, and also a case where there was a fatality. I chose cases from very small businesses that are classed as ‘self employed’.

There are other costs involved.

  1. Costs of legal assistance to defend both the criminal case and a civil case of compensation.
  2. Costs that impact on reputation and loss of business and future contracts.
  3. Costs of replacing staff.
  4. Increased costs of insurance premiums………………… and so on.