Gateshead firm fined after roof blown off in high winds

A Gateshead firm has been prosecuted for safety failings after the roof of a temporary extension at a power station was blown off in the high winds which subsequently put workers and others delivering coal to the site at risk.

A 25 metre span of the roof, that was around 6 metres long and weighed two tonnes, was blown off its 8 metre high scaffold supports in 2012.

It struck another roof adjacent which was a biomass shed before landing 50 metres away on a road way which is used by deliver wagons and on occasional pedestrians. Fortunately the timing of the incident meant that the normally busy road was deserted.

The contractor responsible for the roof was prosecuted at court after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive had identified issues with its design and build.

The court heard that the roof  was part of a temporary extension to a permanent shed which was at the power station and it was designed to increase the capacity and provide weather protection during deliveries by tipper wagons.

In 2011 Pyeroy Ltd had been instructed by the owners of the power station to build a temporary extension to the biomass shed that was designed by an external scaffold design company. This was dismantled in August 2011 once it was no longer required.

Then in May 2012, Pyeroy Ltd was asked to install another temporary extension, this time designed by the in-house design team at Pyeroy Ltd. Although similar to the first structure, it was to be shorter and lower.

It was constructed in June and July 2012 by Pyeroy’s own workforce with the help of a specialist roofing contractor. However, poor communication resulted in an incomplete design plan being used.

Magistrates were told that on 22 December it was noted that the weather was worse than normal, with the winds picking up. This meant some of the sheeting on the structure needed to be re-tied.

The temporary roof was blown off its end supports early the following morning. It ended up straddling a safety barrier and a dry riser pipeline between the main delivery access road and the legs of an adjacent conveyor.

HSE inspectors concluded that Pyeroy Ltd had failed to ensure those involved in the construction of the extension had the necessary knowledge and experience to do the work.

The company also failed to properly communicate with the build team and to check the construction was carried out as it should be.

Pyeroy Limited, of Kirkstone House, St Omers Road, Western Riverside Route, Gateshead, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £1.045.50 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”