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Surrey textile trader prosecuted for dangerous work

10 January 2014

A textile recycler from Surrey has been prosecuted after two of his staff were spotted by a passing safety inspector working dangerously close to the edge of an unprotected roof.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) official immediately halted work at an industrial unit in Horton Close, West Drayton, Hillingdon, when he saw the pair working precariously on the sloping roof with no measures in place to prevent falls. He called the men down and served a prohibition notice halting any further work at height.

The incident, on 30 August 2012, led to a full investigation by HSE and a prosecution of the men’s boss, textile recycler Rajesh Voralia, trading as RTS Textile Recyclers, at Westminster Magistrates today on the 9th January.

HSE found Mr Voralia, a sole trader, employed some 60 people to sort and process unwanted clothing and rags from two premises. Shortly before the incident, there had been a leak in the roof which was spoiling the rags. The court heard the men had got onto the roof using an unsecured ladder which had damaged rungs, worn feet, and only projected a mere 20cms above the roof. The sloped roof also had a number of fragile rooflights.

Mr Voralia told HSE that he was unaware the two men were on the roof and that they must have been instructed by an assistant warehouse manager. Rajesh Voralia, of Crownpits Lane, Godalming, Surrey, was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £3,500 in costs after admitting breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After the case, HSE Inspector Jane Wolfenden said: "Mr Voralia told HSE there was no work at height taking place in the unit despite the fact that there was a ladder available and that the unit had a mezzanine floor. Whilst there was no actual injury in this case, the risk of serious injury or death from falls during roof work is high and Mr Voralia could have easily prevented such work by removing access equipment and issuing a blanket instruction to his staff not to go on the roof. "Falls from or through roofs and fragile rooflights can be easily prevented by careful planning, and use of experienced workers and the right equipment. Work at height is inherently fraught with risk and falls remain the single biggest cause of deaths and serious injury.”

Information on safe working at height is available at www.hse.gov.uk/falls/