Somerset worker fined for endangering workers’ lives

A roofing contractor put the lives of workers at risk by failing to protect them from falls as they worked up to nine metres above ground on a barn roof, a court has been told.

Neil Popham, 50, was hired to build agricultural buildings at a farm in Over Stowey, in Somerset. During the construction in May 2013, a complaint was made to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) about the safety of workers during the roof installation.

As a result, an HSE inspector visited the site and her investigation led to the prosecution of Mr Popham at Taunton Magistrates today (Monday 3 March 2014).

The court was told that on the day of the inspector’s visit, three workers were on top of a steel agricultural building installing roof sheets. The roof height varied from seven metres to nine metres.

There was no edge protection to prevent anyone falling off the building and inadequate netting to mitigate the effects of any fall. In addition, the workers had accessed the roof using a ladder that was not tied to prevent it falling.

Mr Popham had received enforcement notices relating to safe working at height on previous jobs.

Neil Popham, of Higher Heathcombe Farm, Enmore, near Bridgwater, pleaded guilty to a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £950 in costs.

HSE Inspector Kate Leftly, speaking after the hearing, said:

“Falls from height remain one of the most common reasons for injuries and fatalities at work, and it is fortunate that no-one was seriously injured or killed in this case.

“The industry standards expected for work at height on roofs are well known. Having had previous enforcement action Mr Popham was more than aware of the risks but was still prepared to endanger the lives of those working for him.

“It’s crucial that employers make sure work is properly planned, appropriately supervised and that sufficient safety measures are put in place to protect staff.”

Further information about working safely at height can be found on the HSE website at

Notes to Editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace  health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It  does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or  revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority  partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement.
  2. Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: “Every employer shall ensure that work at height is properly planned; appropriately supervised; and carried out in a manner which is so far as is reasonably practicable safe.”
  3. HSE news releases are available at

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