Falkirk roofer’s shoddy safety measures almost killed worker

Sherriff Craig Caldwell
Sherriff Craig Caldwell

A greedy roofing contractor who cut corners to sacrifice safety for profit almost sent one of his employees to an early grave.

The “abysmal” safety equipment Adam Menzies (43) provided for stove fitter Brian Honeyman (49) left him with “catastrophic” head and spinal injuries after he plunged to the ground from a height of 40 feet while working on a house in Stenhousemuir.

Mr Honeyman, a former amateur boxer, was rushed to nearby Forth Valley Royal Hospital and placed on a life support machine.

He was later transferred to a specialist neurological unit at Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital and survived – although he still suffers from the effects of the trauma.

Menzies, Livingston Drive, Laurieston, appeared at Falkirk Sheriff Court today for sentencing after being found guilty of two charges of breaching “work at height regulations”.

The court heard Menzies was responsible for the near fatal tragedy because he failed to provide sufficient scaffolding, a guard rail, toe board, or other barrier that would have stopped Mr Honeyman’s fall back in July 2012.

Fining him £8000, Sheriff Craig Caldwell said he had failed to meet his obligations to Mr Honeyman, and had tried to wriggle out of responsibility by claiming that it had been Mr Honeyman’s contract, not his, so he should have provided the safety gear.

The sheriff said this was despite “pocketing” all the payment for the job, and not passing on a penny to Mr Honeyman, or his family.

Sheriff Caldwell told him: “The provisions you breached are specifically directed at the prevention of accidents and injury to people who work at height, such as Mr Honeyman, who suffered these catastrophic injuries.

“You have been in the roofing industry for many years and you are well aware of the risks of falling from height and the propensity of such accidents to happen.

“You are also well aware of the means of obviating the obvious risks by way of the supply of appropriate equipment.

“You accepted the categorisation, by two experienced Health and Safety Executive inspectors, that the standard of the equipment provided by you was ‘abysmal’.

“A platform you supplied was wholly deficient to meet the obligations which you and you alone had to protect those such as Mr Honeyman, and indeed his son and friends, who were working on your behalf.

“These are very serious offences and your failings resulted in catastrophic injuries to Mr Honeyman, who was very close to death in the hours immediately following this fall from the roof.

“The sentence I impose must reflect the seriousness and extent of your failings and act as a deterrent to others who are engaged in this business and might be tempted, as indeed you were, by reasons of greed, to take short cuts with other people’s health and safety.”

After the case, Menzies said he would prefer to comment through his lawyer.

His solicitor, Simon Hutchison, said: “We consider there are grounds for appeal against both conviction and sentence.”