Roofer dies from fall

A roofer died in 2016 as a result of an eight meter fall from scaffolding, highlighting the dangers of impromptu modifications.

Scaffolding is a necessity for most construction projects – be it to build the upper storey, put the roof on, or simply to apply a finish to the external facade.

There are however many dangers associated to erecting these temporary structures.

Every year, tradesmen die from working on building sites. In 2020, the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) reported 53 work related deaths across all industries in ROI, with 15 of those happening on building sites.

In the construction industry, there were 239 non-fatal injuries reported to the HSA due to slips and falls during that year. For this reason, regulations state that scaffolding must be erected and checked on a regular basis by a competent person.

A case in Dublin shows that even when a structure is erected safely, modifications can lead to catastrophic consequences.

In a Dublin inquest, an inspector from the HSA said three storeys of scaffolding had initially been safely erected by a scaffolding firm but during the course of the work, it had become necessary to add another level to allow workers to reach the roof, reports.

The inquest heard a price had been quoted for the cost of the additional scaffolding but that it had ultimately been done by unqualified workers, who were employed by the contractor, and they used pieces of scaffolding from the lower levels.

The HSA inspector accepted that there was “no obvious flaw” with the additional scaffolding although an examination of the site showed a 3.5ft piece of a “pigtail” tube had been used incorrectly as a guard rail on the scaffolding. He guessed that the deceased had leaned against the scaffolding and it came down with him.

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Written by Astrid Madsen

Astrid Madsen is the editor of the SelfBuild magazine. Email

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