Death wish or good alternative?

The photograph below was sent in by a reader a couple of weeks ago and appears to show two men working on the roof some 20 to 25 metres above the street in Birmingham, UK.

Our correspondent felt it was clear example of dangerous work at height – a Death Wish if you like – and that may well be the case and it certainly looks like that at first glance.

However on closer examination it seems that at least one of the two might be an abseiler. We are far from certain of this, but a rope is clearly visible and the man doing the work, appears to be suspended rather than standing on the roof tiles. Whether the man looking on is harnessed or not is hard to say.
A closer look – is he abseiling?

But is this the best method for carrying out this work? A platform could certainly have been used to reach the dormer window they are working on, possibly even a 3.5 tonne truck mount. Or perhaps a spider lift?

However either would probably have required a permit to work in the street, the ground would have to be checked for underground voids and the machine properly set up and cordoned off, while this also looks like a vehicle entrance. An important would be how long the work was going to last, and whether it required tools and materials etc... Assuming the work was going to take a while and that the two needed tools and equipment then a platform would have been a better solution. Certainly the quality of work would have been better, while a wider range of tradesmen could have been called on to do the job.

One for our Death Wish series? You decide.

Have a safe weekend.