Contractors Insurance News - Firm in Court after Sub-Contractors Fall

Contractors Insurance News - Firm in Court after Sub-Contractors Fall

It’s important to remember that, as a lead Contractor, you also have a duty and responsibility for the safety of any sub-contractor which you may employ as well as their capability to carry out the necessary work.

In the example below, the contracting firm fell down on both counts and ended up with a court appearance as well as a costly Employers Liability Insurance claim.


Glasgow firm in Court after Sub-Contractors Roof-light Fall

A Glasgow firm appeared in Court on 4th June ’14 following a prosecution by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive), relating to an incident which occurred on 8th November 2011.

The Sheriff Court heard that a regular Painting and Decorating sub-contractor of the company had been engaged to carry out the exterior decoration of a commercial premise.

The sub-contractor, while painting the roof, fell through a fragile fibreglass roof light into the factory below sustaining cuts and injuries to his abdomen and wrist, which resulted in an overnight stay in hospital.

Health & Safety Failing

The court heard that the Company’s Health and Safety Consultants had not been engaged or asked for advice around the safety of working at height and had failed to ensure that the contractor carried out suitable risk assessments before works commence.

Following the case, HSE Principal Inspector Graeme McMinn said:

“John Watson & Co Ltd made no efforts to ensure that their contractor took the necessary safety precautions to prevent falls through fragile roof lights or from exposed open edges on the roof.

“Simple measures such as using barriers to prevent access to fragile areas or installing coverings over the roof lights could easily have prevented this worker getting injured.

“The workers were exposed to unacceptable risks of falling from the roof or through the roof lights for several days. This incident could very easily have had much more severe consequences.”

The firm subsequently employed the services of a roofing contractor to complete the works.  

As a specialist in contracts involving working at height, the roofers were able to take the appropriate risk management precautions.

They were also protected by Employers and Public Liability Insurance for Roofing Contractors.


Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 Breach

Managing the safety and protection of sub-contractors is an area which is often overlooked as firms assume that this will be carried out by the sub-contractor themselves.  

In reality, the lead contractor has a duty to ensure the safety of all employees, including sub-contractors and appropriate risk management, should be put in place.

Working at Height

When working at height, firms should be extra vigilant as risk increases significantly.

Accordingly to the HSE, an average seven people are killed each year after falling through a fragile roof or fragile roof light – accounting for almost a fifth of all the fatalities caused by a fall from height in the construction industry, while many others suffer permanent disabling injury.

When working at height, you should also ensure that your Public Liability Insurance and Employers Liability Insurance does not include any restrictions as some policies will exclude work over a specific height limit (typically ten metres).

FREE Public Liability Insurance Review

As Contractors Insurance specialists, Insync can provide a FREE review of your current Public and Employers Liability Insurance programme.  

Our insurance gurus can often improve your cover AND save you money by accessing one of our specialist insurance markets.  

You can book a slot online via our website at a time that suits YOUR diary. Alternatively call 0330 124 0730 for more information, we would love to hear from you.