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HSE launches hunt for deadly roof tiles

A HUNT for potentially lethal roof sheeting has been ordered by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) amid fears the tiles could be installed on 'thousands' of structures.

The probe centres on fibre cement sheets made by Spanish building materials giant Uralita.

The investigation was triggered when a man fell through a roof in Devon last July .

Internal HSE memos seen by NCE refer to a potential 'deadly legacy' of tiles already in circulation.

According to the HSE, marketing information for the FC6 and FC6R tiles could give the impression they were non-fragile and capable of supporting a person's weight.

It is understood that 60% of a sample of tiles taken after the Devon accident failed the relevant 'SIR 30' test at HSE labs in Buxton. This replicates a person by dropping a 45kg sandbag 1.2m onto the 6.7mm thick sheets spanning purlins 1,373mm apart.

An improvement notice has been served on UK distributor Roofing & Cladding Supplies of Brierly Hill, West Midlands, ordering it to warn customers that the sheets are not capable of supporting anyone walking on them and measures should be taken to prevent falls.

RCS managing director Ian Quinton said he had already contacted 260 clients.

But Uralita Spanish sales manager Carlos Fernandez San Miguel told NCE that as similar batches in Spain had passed tests, those tested by the HSE may have been weakened by use.

However, he added: 'We are very anxious that any problems with the sheets are resolved and will not be selling more in the UK until then.'

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