The death of a child
Faulkner Gates Limited, of The Hundred, Romsey, Hampshire was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £40,000 after pleading guilty to breaching s3(1) HSWA after a 9 year old boy was crushed to death by its electrically powered gates.
The HSE brought the prosecution following the death of Jason Keet on 13 April 2006. He died when his head was crushed by the gates at the entrance to a private block of flats in Balcombe Road, Poole, Dorset.
The boy arrived to visit his grandparents with his mother when he tried to open the electric gates at the entrance to the block of flats. He got out of the car, put his arm and upper body around the gate pillar and pressed the button on the inside, meant for use by people leaving the block of flats on foot.
The gates were built in such a way that there was a gap large enough for him to get between the edge of one of the gates and a brick pillar. Because Jason had reached through to press the button, his head and upper body were in this gap when the gates started to move, the opening narrowed, and his head was crushed between the gate and the brick pillar.
Bournemouth Crown Court heard the organisation played its part in designing and building these gates but failed to control properly the risks that were being created.
Speaking after the hearing, the prosecuting HSE Inspector, Stephen Hanson-Hall, said:
"Jason was on his way to see his grandparents, and was simply trying to help his mum by opening the gates. There is no way he could have been expected to understand the risks created by the design of these gates. Had the company undertaken a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, and communicated its findings with the other companies involved in the design and installation of the gates, it is unlikely this tragedy would have happened. Where several organisations are involved in design and construction projects, they must cooperate and communicate effectively with one another to control risks to the public. This is a tragedy that should never have happened. We cannot emphasise enough the importance of taking into account safety risks, to prevent another family going through the ordeal of losing a loved one - especially one so young, who should have had the whole of his life to look forward to."
Two demolition companies fined after death
Essex based John F Hunt Demolition Ltd and Bayoak Demo Ltd of London both pleaded guilty to Health and Safety breaches concerning the death of 29-year-old Rafal Przestrzelski in 2005.
The Central Criminal Court, (Old Bailey) heard Mr Przestrzelski, 29, of Wood Green, London N22, was employed as a labourer by demolition sub-contactor Bayoak Demo Ltd. The project was managed by John F Hunt Demolition Ltd, acting as principal contractor.
On 25 July 2005, Rafal Przestrzelski was told to remove a number of Acrow props supporting a slab of concrete, during the demolition of Telstar House in Paddington, London. Originally there were 13 props, but as each one was removed the load increased on the remainder until the final one was carrying the entire load.
When the props were removed, the concrete slab fell to the ground and an overloaded prop struck Mr Przestrzelski causing fatal internal injuries.
The subsequent investigation, carried out jointly by the Metropolitan Police and the HSE, found that the method of work on the original plan had been departed from.
The investigation also found that no revised method-statement and consequential risk assessment, which would have almost certainly required the input of a structural engineer, were devised. HSE say had these actions been undertaken the incident could have been avoided.
The investigation discovered a section of a partially demolished link-bridge structure collapsed when the props supporting it were removed by Mr Przestrzelski. They found a collapse was inevitable as the structure was not physically tied onto the building as was assumed by the management.
John F Hunt Demolition Ltd of Europa Park, London Road, Grays in Essex pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the HSWA etc. 1974, at the Central Criminal Court, (Old Bailey), on 27 January 2010. The company was fined £85,000 and ordered to pay £25,000 in costs.
Bayoak Demo Ltd, of Clare Gardens, Barking in London, also pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the HSWA etc. 1974, at the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey, on 1 February 2010. The company was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £8,000 in costs.
After the sentencing HSE Inspector Giles Meredith said:
"This was a lengthy joint investigation between the Metropolitan Police and HSE, which found Rafal Przestrzelski was the innocent victim of a basic error of judgement by others that cost him his life. There are lessons to be learned both about the importance of carrying out detailed surveys and also about making sure that the right people are consulted at the right time. The price of making an ill-informed decision about the structure was enormous."
Carillion JM Ltd fined £185,000 after truck runs over worker
The HSE has prosecuted Carillion JM Ltd following an incident at the Kingsway Business Park in Rochdale on 11 November 2008. A Ford Transit was being reversed on the construction site when it hit Michael Gresty.
Carillion JM Ltd, of Birch Street in Wolverhampton, pleaded guilty to three health and safety offences at Manchester Crown Court on 12 February 2010. The company, which is part of the multinational Carillion plc group, was ordered to pay £9,821 towards the cost of the prosecution in addition to the fine of £185,000.
Mr Gresty, from Chadderton, was helping to build a new track around a large pond at the business park when he was run over by the truck. The 56-year-old was in hospital for four weeks following the incident and is unlikely to ever return to work due to the extent of his injuries.
He lost his left kidney, broke seven ribs, left shoulder and right foot, fractured his spine, dislocated his right hip and required a pin through his right knee. He has lost one inch in height, has four needles in his spine and still suffers constant pain in his back and ribs more than a year later.
The court heard that no one was responsible for guiding the truck, which was regularly reversing up to 400m to drop off construction materials for the project. A pedestrian walkway to separate vehicles from pedestrians had also not been marked on the track.
Carillion pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) HSWA 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of workers. It also admitted breaching Regulation 3(1)(b) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 by failing to carry out a suitable risk assessment.
HSE Inspector Neil Martin said:
"Michael Gresty is lucky to be alive following this very serious incident and he will never fully recover. His injuries could easily have been prevented if Carillion had followed basic health and safety procedures. It is not acceptable that a construction company, which employs 50,000 people around the world, did not carry out the right risk assessment or put a system in place for preventing collisions. It would have been simple to mark out a basic pedestrian walkway, using cones and tape, and have someone responsible for guiding reversing vehicles. If Carillion had done this, Michael Gresty would not have suffered agonising injuries. I hope this case demonstrates to all companies how important it is to separate pedestrians from vehicles on construction sites."
Veolia fined £130,000 after death
Veolia ES (UK) Ltd (formally known as Onyx UK Ltd) the refuse company has been fined £130,000 after a worker was killed near Aylesbury when a 1,100-litre recycling bin fell on his head.
David Ives, 56 from High Wycombe, an employee of was collecting refuse outside a pub in Easington, near Aylesbury when the incident happened on 5 May 2004. Aylesbury Crown Court heard that a recycling bin fell from the bin hoist on the recycling lorry and landed on Mr Ives' head, killing him.
The HSE prosecuted Veolia who contested the charges however the jury convicted the company who have now beenfined £130,000 and ordered to pay costs of £220,000 for breaching s2(1) & s3(1) HSWA.
Dennis MacWilliam, HSE inspector, said:
"This was an extremely tragic incident which has now left Mr Ives' widow to continue life without a loving husband. It could have been avoided if only a few simple measures had been in place. Employers are legally required to make sure their equipment is regularly maintained and is fit for use by their workers. If the bin hoist on the recycling lorry had been maintained this incident would never have happened."
In the same trial, Brian Currie Milton Keynes Ltd of Norfolk House Centre, Milton Keynes, was found not guilty of breaching section 3(1).
Ed - Section 2 (1) HSWA states: It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.
Section 3 (1) HSWA states: It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.
Rotherham MBC and contractor fined after death
The HSE has prosecuted Rotherham MBC and their contractor Brocklebank & Company (Demolition) Limited following the death of an employee who was killed by a reversing truck.
Gordon Duffield, a council employee, was knocked down by an eight-wheeled tipper wagon operated by Brocklebank as it delivered asphalt to a site on Fitzwilliam Road, Rotherham, on 4 May 2007.
The Council pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) HSWA and was fined £75,000 and ordered to pay £18,350 costs. Brocklebank & Company (Demolition) Limited of, Doctor Lane, Sheffield, pleaded guilty to a breach of s3(1) HSWA and was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £12,000 costs.
After the hearing, HSE Principal Inspector John Rowe said:
"Mr Duffield's death demonstrates all too clearly the need for the movement of workplace vehicles to be carefully managed so that employees and other pedestrians are not put at risk. The council had a duty to protect their employee. Yet, vehicle movements at the site were uncontrolled despite the fact that tipper wagons had to reverse the length of the site. No one was designated to direct the movement and unloading of the lorry. The council were also aware that the worker was partially deaf as a result of exposure to noise at work - but had made no assessment of his suitability to continue as a road worker.”
He continued: "Similarly, the contractor in this case had failed to take all reasonably practicable steps to protect those at the site from the risk of being hit by a reversing vehicle. In particular, instructions for the driver to do a 360 degree check were not communicated nor was CCTV fitted to eliminate the blind spot at the rear of the vehicle."
Dudley MBC fined following fatality
Dudley MBC has beenfined £30,000 and ordered to pay £20,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) HSWA following a fatal incident.
Michael Lilley, a council employee and the driver of the vehicle involved in the incident pleaded guilty to two breaches of s7 HSWA and was fined £750 and ordered to pay £500 in costs.
The man killed was George Pagett, a council employee who was described as a well-liked professional manager. He was struck and killed by a wheeled shovel loader, driven by Mr Lilley, in Dudley MBC's Lister Road Depot in Netherton on 27 October 2006. The court heard how Mr Lilley drove against the direction of the site's one-way system and had the loading shovel at a height that meant he couldn't see in front properly. He also didn't take suitable precautions to make sure he didn't damage any other vehicles or harm pedestrians.
Mr Pagett had been wearing a high visibility jacket and was facing the oncoming traffic in the yard when he was hit in the upper back by the blade of the wheeled loader shovel's bucket. Other employees tried to warn Mr Pagett and divert Mr Lilley, but the vehicle did not stop until after the front wheel had run him over.
HSE inspector David Price said:
"This was a terrible incident that could so easily have been prevented. Mr Pagett's untimely death has brought great grief to his family, and to many of his work colleagues. Depots and loading yards are potentially dangerous places, with vehicles often required to manoeuvre in tight or enclosed spaces. Employers need to provide set routes, to keep pedestrians and vehicles safely apart. They also need to check their site rules and systems of work are both appropriate and adequately enforced. Drivers need to obey signs and instructions in workplaces, just as closely as they would obey them on a public highway. In driving at over 8mph against the one-way system, with the unnecessarily raised bucket obscuring much of his view through the windscreen, Michael Lilley failed to take reasonable care for the health and safety of Mr Pagett."
Mental health charity fined after death of support worker
Mental Health Matters Ltd, a North East-based registered charity has been fined £30,000 with costs of £20,000 after one of their employees was killed by a service user.
Ashleigh Ewing, a 22-year-old support worker employed by Mental Health Matters, was attacked and killed by service user Ronald Dixon.
Mental Health Matters provide support and housing services to people who suffer from mental health problems. They pleaded guilty to a charge brought by the HSE for a breach of s2(1) HSWA for failing to do all that was reasonably practicable to ensure Ms Ewing's safety.
Newcastle Crown Court heard that Ashleigh Ewing was visiting Ronald Dixon at his home in Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne on 19 May 2006 when she was attacked and stabbed to death. Ashleigh had started work with Mental Health Matters exactly six months prior to the date of her death. The attack occurred on the final day of her probation period.
The prosecution told Mr Justice Keith that Ashleigh's employment by Mental Health Matters exposed her to certain obvious risks, particularly in the context of her dealings with Mr Dixon. His mental health was known to be deteriorating and Mental Health Matters failed to respond to a number of warning signs. The court also heard that they failed to afford Ashleigh the level of protection that the nature of her job warranted.
Mrs Pam Waldron, HSE's Head of Operations said:
"This is an unusual case which shows the need for employers to assess risks to employees who visit individuals in their homes and for arrangements to be reviewed when changes occur. We believe that if Mental Health Matters had carried out a risk assessment, it would have resulted in the visiting arrangements being reviewed."
Ed- the service user, Ronald Dixon, who killed Ashleigh Ewing, pleaded guilty in October 2007 to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and is detained indefinitely at Rampton Secure Hospital.
Northumbrian Water fined
The HSE has prosecuted Northumbrian Water Limited, who own and operate Essex and Suffolk Water, after they pleaded guilty to a breach of s2(1) HSWA.
Northumbrian Water was fined £17,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £17,045.40 at Lowestoft Magistrate's Court. The prosecution follows an incident on 12 March 2008, where employee Robert Ayers, 38, from Lowestoft crushed between the loading bucket and cab of a construction vehicle. He spent three days in intensive care as a result.
Mr Ayers was driving a Bobcat skid steer loader at the company's Lound Water treatment works site. He got out of the vehicle with the engine running and as he was getting back into the driver's cab, he slipped and pressed the control to raise the vehicle's bucket. He was then trapped between the cab and the bucket, suffering crush injuries and permanent scarring.
Usually there is a device that stops the bucket being raised unless there is someone in the driving seat of the vehicle, but this was found to be faulty. Mr Ayers and other employees had also not received adequate training in the use of the vehicle.
Investigating HSE Inspector, Richard Hines said:
"Mr Ayers is very lucky to have escaped with his life from this incident because similar incidents with other companies have resulted in employees being crushed to death. It was a simple example of faulty equipment and insufficient training creating a potential disaster.”
Fall through fragile roof
Eastern Hardware Ltd, a Lowestoft-based company which manufactures metal has been fined £3,000 with £3,900 costs after one of their employees fell through a fragile roof. They were prosecuted for breaching s2(1) HSWA, reg 3(1) MHSWR and reg 6(1) Working at Height Regulations 2005.
Paul Garrod, aged 54, an employee of Eastern Hardware Ltd was installing some air conditioning ducting at Express Composites, in Ellough, near Beccles, on 5 April 2008 when he fell a metre through a fragile roof. Mr Garrod landed on internal steel duct work and suffered significant bruising as a result.
The HSE investigation found that the company had failed to provide adequate information, instruction and training for working at height. They had also failed to undertake suitable and sufficient risk assessments or implement safe systems of work for the job. There was no recognition that there was a fragile roof and suitable work at height equipment was not provided.
HSE Inspector, Julie Jarvey said:
"Mr Garrod received significant injuries following this incident, causing him to be absent from work for several weeks. Had he not landed on the internal duct work, the fall could have proved fatal. This case highlights the need for companies to do everything possible to minimise the risk employees face when working at height.”
HSE provides plenty of advice and guidance for employers on how to keep their workers safe while working at height. "
Leicester man fined for unsafe work at height
A roofer has been fined £4,950 after putting himself and two of his employees at risk of falling more than 7m from a building.
The HSE prosecuted Dean Paul Shaw trading as Streamline Guttering and Cladding, of Kirby Muxloe, Leicestershire, for allowing work to take place on a roof without adequate safety equipment to stop him or his workers falling.
Mr Shaw was also ordered to pay costs of £1,314.40 at Loughborough Magistrates' Court after pleading guilty to breaching three regulations of the Work At Height Regulations 2005.
The breaches happened when Mr Shaw and two employees were working on a roof. The three workers accessed the roof by a mobile tower at the front of the building, however they were also working on the back of the building, which had no tower or scaffolding in place.
The court heard that by not providing adequate safety equipment, Mr Shaw failed to ensure that the installation of new guttering was properly planned, did not provide appropriate supervision and failed to prevent, as far as reasonably practicable, any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury.
Prosecuting, HSE Inspector Mhairi Lockwood said:
"All three workers were walking across the roof - which also had fragile roof lights - to work on the back of the premises where there was no protection to stop them from falling. There was also a sharp palisade fence below which could have caused horrific injuries if anyone had fallen on it.”
Ed - Last year more than 4,000 employees suffered major injuries after falling from height at work, and 21 workers in the construction industry died. For more information on HSE's shattered lives campaign go to www.hse.gov.uk/shatteredlives
High Voltage Shock
A high voltage shock which fried the mechanics of a tipper has led to HSE prosecutions. The 66,000 volt surge was caused when a tipper truck's flat bed was raised and it touched overhead power cables on 5 December 2007.
Sheffield-based contractor JF Finnegan, of Ecclesall Road, Ecclesall, pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) HSWA and was fined £17,500 and ordered to pay £2,126 costs at Doncaster Magistrates Court.
Saxby Surfacing Contractors Ltd, from Butterthwaite Business Park in Ecclesfield, Sheffield, were sub-contracted by JF Finnegan. The company pleaded guilty to contravening regulation 34(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £708 costs.
Both companies were involved in building a private road in Doncaster at First Point Business Park. During the work, a tipper wagon, which was in its raised position, touched a high voltage overhead cable. The 66,000 volt shock passed through the wagon, resulting in severe damage to the pneumatics and the hydraulics.
The court heard this was the third similar incident at the site, yet HSE inspectors found a lack of suitable signage warning of overhead danger or height restricting posts in operation.
After the hearing HSE Inspector Stephen Hargreaves said:
"In this instance, had the driver of the tipper wagon left the vehicle when contact was made with the power line, it would almost certainly have proved fatal. Luckily he remained in the vehicle and he escaped without injury. But it wasn't only the driver who had been put at risk - anyone else standing in close proximity could also have been killed or seriously injured. Had there been appropriate signage in place, as well as height restricting goal posts this, incident could easily have been avoided."
Ed - Visit http://www.hse.gov.uk/electricity/ for guidance on electrical safety at work.
Killing the boss
A farm worker has been fined after he reversed a tractor over his 73-year old employer killing him.
John Peter Metcalfe of Beech Drive, Ashbourne, Derbyshire was driving at speed when the incident happened on 25 April 2007. He pleaded guilty to breaching s7(a) HSWA.
At Southern Derbyshire Magistrates' Court Mr Metcalfe was fined £450.00 and ordered to pay costs of £1000.00 over the incident at White Meadow Farm, Moor Lane, Osmaston, in Ashbourne.
The court heard that Mr Metcalfe had returned to the farm at the end of the day to park the tractor, which was attached to a muck spreader. He was reversing through the farmyard in the vehicle with restricted visibility, when he ran over his employer.
Edward Arthur Fox, who was 73, later died of his injuries.
Mr Metcalfe had received a number of previous warnings about driving at speed. The HSE investigation also revealed a four and a half metre skid mark on the ground where Mr Metcalfe had tried to stop the vehicle after hitting Mr Fox.
HSE inspector Dr Samantha Farrar said:
"This was a tragic case where the actions of one farm worker ultimately left his employer dead. Mr Metcalfe had already been warned about driving the tractor at speed around the farm, but sadly did not take this advice on board. I cannot stress enough the importance of watching out for other people and keeping speed down when driving tractors, especially when visibility is restricted."
Ed- s7(a) HSWA: "It shall be the duty of every employee while at work to take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and of other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work".
It is interesting that the authorities chose to prosecute for a breach of s7(a) HSWA as opposed to gross negligence manslaughter.
Food giant prosecuted after employee's hand is crushed
Icelandic food giant’s UK subsidiary Bakkavör Foods Ltd has been fined £3,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,000 at Grantham Magistrates' Court after pleading guilty to breaching regulation 11(3) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
One of their employees had his hand crushed at Bakkavör's Bourne Salads factory in Bourne on 24 August 2008 whilst assisting colleagues in clearing a blockage in a cabbage washing line.
The employee reached into the screw conveyor used to shred cabbage, to try to remove a blockage.
Although the machine had a guard to prevent anyone reaching the screw conveyor, it had been disabled to allow the machine to run without it. Unfortunately, the machine had not been properly isolated and when the blockage was cleared, it started up again crushing the man's hand.
HSE Inspector Jo Anderson said:
"Bakkavor is a huge company which employs 20,000 worldwide and 2500 in the UK alone. It is often assumed companies of this size adhere to health and safety policies at all times. In this instance, Bakkavor failed to efficiently maintain the protective guards in place to prevent employees accessing dangerous parts of the factory's machinery. The employee suffered the injury whilst working a night shift and this unfortunate incident sends out a clear message on the importance of companies maintaining the same standard of care to employees on a night shift as on a day shift."
Ed – reg 11(3) PUWER
states that all guards and protection devices shall be suitable for the purpose; be of good construction, sound material and adequate strength; be maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair; not give rise to any increased risk; not be easily bypassed or disabled; be situated at sufficient distance from the danger zone; not unduly restrict the view of the operating cycle of the machinery; and be constructed or adapted to allow the operations necessary to fit or replace parts and for maintenance work.
Finger amputation leads to £10,000 fine
M&M Windows Ltd, which has its head office in Droitwich Spa,has pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) HSWA and s1(1) of the Employers' Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969. As well as being fined £10,000, Dudley Magistrates also ordered the company to pay £2,500 towards costs.
The court heard how on 19 May 2009 employee Jeremy Adams was cutting window frames on a double pivoting head mitre cutting saw when his hand was caught by the blade. His left index finger was amputated and his middle finger needed major surgery and reconstruction. Mr Adams has been unable to work since the incident.
It later emerged that the company was not insured against injuries to its employees, as it believed it was exempt because it employed mainly agency staff.
HSE inspector Jenny Skeldon said:
"This worker has been severely let down by his employer. It was an injury that could have easily been prevented but the company failed to ensure the saw machinery was fully guarded to prevent access to dangerous parts. The company should have recognised the obvious safety defects with the saw and taken action to prevent injury. Also, not having insurance in place was a gross failure of duty to its employees. It is crucial that all companies look at the relationship they have with its workers, agency or not, and the degree and extent of control they have over the work done as this will indicate if insurance is required.”
Ed - Visit http://www.hse.gov.uk/workers/agencyworkers.htm for more information about health and safety obligations when employing agency workers.
Worker severely injured by falling MDF
Thistle Woodworks Ltd has pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 10(4) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company was given a conditional discharge of three months and ordered to pay costs of £1,544.40.
North West Surrey Magistrates heard the incident took place on 17 May 2008 at Thistle Woodworks Limited's site in Lightwater, Surrey.
A stack of MDF (medium density fibreboard) panels more than 2m long and over a metre wide were stacked vertically against a closed door to the workshop. A number of these boards fell on top of one of the employees, who as a result, suffered fractures to the left side of his forehead, his eye socket, cheek bone and left arm.
HSE Inspector Suzanne Matthews said:
"This method of stacking boards was inherently unsafe and injuries were inevitable if the stack was disturbed. This company failed its employee, who suffered several severe fractures as a result. Boards should never be stacked on their edge without adequate support. They should be stored flat, or in a 'pigeonhole' or 'toast rack' arrangement with staff clearly told about the dangers of propping boards with inadequate support."
Ed - reg 10 (4) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: Every employer shall ensure that materials and objects are stored in such a way as to prevent risk to any person arising from the collapse, overturning or unintended movement of such materials or objects.
Crane manufacturer fined following near-miss
Rossendale Group Limited, of Portside North, Merseyton Road, Ellesmere Port has pleaded guilty to breaching s6(1) HSWA. The company was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £10,000 costs at Sheffield Magistrates Court.
The company had supplied Sheffield-based paper manufacturer Georgia Pacific GB Limited, of Oughtibridge Mill, with a crane to lift reels of paper. On 18 February 2006, during a routine lifting operation, an anchorage point on the crane failed, causing the crane to drop its combined weight of 1.8 tonnes from a height of approximately 1.2 metres.
After the hearing HSE Inspector Alison Crank said:
"It was extremely fortunate that no one was injured or even killed in this incident. Had the load fallen moments earlier it would have fallen into the path of the crane operator. Rossendale Group Limited should have ensured the safety critical anchorage points on the crane had been designed for the typical loading conditions that the crane would experience during routine use. Companies that supply lifting equipment must be aware that they will be held to account if the equipment is not well designed or manufactured."
Ed - s6(1)(a) HSWA states: "It shall be the duty of any person who designs, manufactures, imports or supplies any article for use at work or any article of fairground equipment to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the article is so designed and constructed that it will be safe and without risks to health at all times when it is being set, used, cleaned or maintained by a person at work."
Firm fined £2,400 after factory worker injured
The Baked Snacks Co Limited, of Imperial Way, South Bank, Middlesbrough, has been fined £2,400, ordered to pay costs of £2,000 and pay the victim surcharge of £15 at Teesside Magistrates' Court after it pleaded guilty of two breaches of The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
The court heard how on 9 October 2008, the 22-year-old man was working as a mixing operative at the company's factory, where it produces baked snacks. His duties included cleaning his work area and other areas of the production line, among them the cooling conveyors.
The worker was cleaning the cooling conveyor at a point where there was no guarding of an in-running nip while the machinery was running. His right hand became trapped between two rollers and was badly injured.
After the case, HSE Inspector Bruno Porter, said:
"It appears that at the time of the incident, cleaning work was often done while the conveyor belts were still running, including areas that were not adequately guarded. This was a straightforward case of the company failing to address the risks arising from normal operation of this food factory. Simple, standard guarding of a dangerous piece of machinery should have been in place to prevent this nasty accident. In addition, there must be adequate information and instruction for safe operation of the plant which there was not in this case. Where workers do not have English as their first language, such as in this case, employers must make doubly sure all personnel really do understand how to work safely and what is expected of them."
Bottle company fined over worker plunge
Allied Glass Containers Ltd has been prosecuted by the HSE over an incident at its factory on South Accommodation Road, Hunslet, last January.
The company pleaded guilty and was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £3,173 costs by Leeds Magistrates after the court heard details of the case involving a fall on to a concrete floor.
Urgent maintenance work at the factory required a mezzanine floor to be opened up so faulty equipment could be removed and replaced. A three-square-metre gap was created for equipment to be transferred using a block and tackle pulley system, which was subsequently left open in case adjustments were required before the maintenance team took a break.
One worker was called back to the upper level after a problem was identified, but he lost his footing and plunged through the gap, falling two metres onto a concrete floor below.
He sustained multiple injuries, including fractures to his back and skull, and bruising to his brain and kidney. He spent 11 days in hospital and has yet to return to work.
HSE inspectors discovered there was no risk assessment for creating a hole in the floor, and no precautions were taken to prevent a fall.
The company has since made improvements to ensure the flooring need not be lifted for maintenance work of this type.
After the hearing inspector Paul Yeadon commented:
"Somebody could easily have died here. This incident was completely preventable with a simple risk assessment and a bit of common sense in planning the job. Allied Glass has lost a valued, experienced employee, who is still recovering from his injuries. He should never have been allowed to fall. We have continued to engage with the company and it's reassuring that lessons appear to have been learned, with improvements now in place to prevent future falls."
Shepherd’s fined after worker injures skull
Shepherd Construction Limited of Jockey Lane, Huntington, York, has pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) HSWA and been fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £6,900 in costs for its role in an incident at the Trinity Square construction site in central Nottingham.
The court heard how on 30 August 2007 a contractor on the site drove a cherry picker over a concealed man hole cover.
The cover gave way under the weight of the machine and the cherry picker toppled over, leaving its driver with serious injuries to his skull, back and legs.
The long reaching arm of the machine crashed to the ground, landing in a busy area that had been occupied by pedestrians and vehicles only seconds before. Following the incident, Milton Street in central Nottingham was blocked off for almost six hours.
HSE Inspector Martin Giles said:
"This was a very dangerous incident, in an area which was bustling with pedestrians and vehicles. It could so easily have led to people being killed and has left a worker with serious injuries. The company failed to put in place adequate measures to find and record where the man holes and service covers were around the site and failed to take steps to protect them or prevent vehicles from driving over them. Operators of mobile elevating work platforms, such as scissor lifts and cherry pickers, must be warned about man hole covers and underground services because there is a real risk of them collapsing and heavy vehicles toppling over.”
Director fined for neglecting legionella risk
Ernest Jones a managing director of First Metal Finishers Ltd has been fined personally after neglecting to control legionella at its site.
Despite warnings from water treatment contractors failed to put a management system in place for the control of legionella.
Mr Jones pleaded guilty to breaching s37(1) HSWA in that it was his neglect that caused his company to breach the duty it owed by virtue of s3(1) HSWA. He was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £1,000 towards costs.
Dudley magistrates heard how in September 2008, inspectors visited the site in Cannon Business Park to look at control of legionella bacteria in two cooling towers.
The towers were in operation at the time of the visit, but it became evident no management system was in place for the control of legionella, nor had there been for at least eight months. Also, none of the required test checks or monitoring were being undertaken.
A prohibition notice was issued on site to stop the towers operating and an improvement notice was issued for a management system to be put in place. The failings identified in the investigation showed neglect on the part of managing director Ernest Jones.
HSE inspector Sarah Palfreyman said:
"The risk was foreseeable and entirely preventable. The company, and therefore the managing director, had received quotes from two water treatment companies which hadn't been acted upon and received information from one about very high bacteria levels in the towers. This is a very well known risk and there have been a number of outbreaks in recent years, one in the Dudley area. Legionella can make people seriously ill and in severe cases can kill. Managing directors have a responsibility to act upon findings like this as soon as possible. They should be fully aware of their duties and not rely on delegation or assume they will not be prosecuted for their individual failings."
Company and director prosecuted for mercury exposure
Electrical Waste Recycling Group Ltd, of 400 Denmark Street, Glasgow (formerly known as Matrix Direct Recycle Ltd) recycles electrical equipment, including fluorescent light tubes containing mercury and TV sets and monitors containing lead. An investigation revealed that 20 of its employees had levels of mercury in their system above UK guidance levels, and five of them showed extremely high levels following the exposure between October 2007 and August 2008.
The HSE prosecuted both the company and director Craig Thompson.
The court heard that ventilation problems at a plant on School Lane, Kirkheaton, meant employees were being exposed to potentially harmful emissions from both mercury and lead.
EWR was fined £140,000 and ordered to pay £35,127 costs at Bradford Crown Court after pleading guilty to breaching s2(1) HSWA, three separate breaches of COSHH 2002 and one breach of the Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002.
Company director Craig Thompson, aged 38, of Reinwood, Huddersfield, was also fined £5,000 after pleading guilty to breaching reg 7(1) COSHH.
Several workers had reported ill health as a result of the exposure, including a pregnant worker who was concerned that her unborn baby was at risk.
The HSE issued five Improvement Notices and one Prohibition Notice to the company.
After the hearing HSE Inspector Jeanne Morton said:
"This is a shocking case involving a large number of employees, many of them young and vulnerable, who were suddenly faced with the worrying possibility of damage to their long-term health. The risks associated with handling toxic substances like mercury have been known for generations, so it is all the more unacceptable that something like this has happened. The company failed to see the risks created by their recycling work and failed to develop effective plans for safe working. They also did nothing to check their workers' health after exposure. Workers have a right to expect a reasonable level of protection in the workplace, and employers have a legal duty to provide it."
Max Folkett, site inspector for the Environment Agency, added: "We have worked closely with HSE and other organisations during the investigation which led to this prosecution. Electrical Waste Recycling Group Limited requires an environmental permit from us for the recovery and processing of hazardous waste and we routinely inspect the site to check the company is complying with the permit. We suspended the permit following this incident in August 2008, removing the risk of mercury escaping from the site, because of our concerns the operation posed a serious risk of pollution from mercury.”
Stonemasons fined after workers suffer lung damage
York-based stonemasons William Anelay Limited, of Murton Way, Osbaldwick, York have pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) HSWA 1974. The company was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £6,000 by York Crown Court.
The court heard that two employees, who had been working with the company as stonemasons for many years, fell ill after being exposed to uncontrolled levels of respirable crystalline silica, which is caused primarily by dry stone carving without extraction ventilation or use of protective equipment. The exposure occurred between May 1994 and July 2008.
High levels of airborne silica had been identified 14 years earlier during a monitoring survey, but subsequent measures taken to protect employees were not adequate.
As a result of the exposure both men have been left with long-term lung damage. So severe are their disabilities that one of the men has since been forced to take early retirement and the other man has been unable to return to work as a stonemason.
HSE Inspector Julian Franklin said:
"Today's verdict shows that the working practices at William Anelay Ltd were inadequate and dangerous. During the investigation, HSE found that a combination of dry stone cutting with no ventilation or use of protective clothing resulted in the workers breathing in hazardous levels of respirable crystalline silica. This was allowed to happen for many years, which has meant that not only do both men have to cope with life-long, serious health issues which will affect them for the rest of their lives, their careers have also been affected. Had the company acted on the information they received after a survey in 1994, these men may not now be suffering from serious illnesses.”
Bradford property developer fined for failings at hull site
HQ Leisure Limited, of Park Drive, Bradford, pleaded guilty to six charges at Hull Magistrates Court, one breach of the HSWA 1974, two breaches of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and three breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and has been fined £10,000 for serious safety failings that endangered the lives of workers on a refurbishment project in Hull.
Magistrates heard that inspectors from the HSE found a number of safety problems that could have caused a serious injury or fatality at a site on Albion Street, Hull, in October 2007, where a row of four-storey terrace buildings was being converted into 28 apartments.
The problems included:
• Rear scaffolding had not been properly inspected, and was found to be dangerously unstable because of missing structural supports
• Roofing materials were being thrown from a 15 metre high platform at the roof eaves - into an area where other contractors were working below
• Unsuitable ladders were being used to access upper floors
• Insufficient and unsecured boards were being used in the roof space leaving workers at risk of falling through the ceiling joists.
• Voids created by the demolition of a rear extension had not been guarded to prevent falls out of the building
• No toilet had been provided for the workers and washing facilities were inadequate
In addition to the £10,000 fine, HQ Leisure was also ordered to pay £10,000 costs.
Following the hearing HSE Inspector Stephen Hargreaves commented:
"HQ Leisure Limited blatantly disregarded the importance of a safe working site, leaving their workers on Albion Street at risk of serious injury or even death. Many people are killed on construction sites every year, and suitable planning and risk management is vital to prevent unnecessary risk. That clearly didn't happen on this occasion and there are a number of simple, practical measures that could and should have been taken by HQ Leisure Ltd. Property developers must be aware of their duties towards the health and safety of their workers, and HSE will continue to take action where we find significant risks to workers."
Fine for illegal car breaker’s yard
A man has been fined for allowing his land to be used as an illegal breaker’s yard. At Doncaster Magistrates’ Court Malcolm George Barlow admitted two offences relating to a car dismantling business on land at Greenfield Sidings, Greenfield Lane, Balby, without a licence.
Barlow, 61, of Tenter Road, Doncaster, was fined a total of £1,500 and was ordered to pay £2,000 towards prosecution costs, as well as a £15 victim surcharge.
Giles Bridge, prosecuting counsel for the Environment Agency, told the court the site required but did not have the necessary permit. Mr Bridge said environment officers attended on 15 February 2008, following reports that scrap cars and parts were being stored there.
They saw a lorry trailer with an engine on top, leaking onto the ground which was soaked with oil. The officers also saw about 30 end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) – when they tested some they found the cars still contained fluids such as oil, brake fluid and power steering fluid.
When environment officers returned to the site on 30 October 2008 it was considerably clearer but ELVs and other scrap were still present.
Mr Bridge told the court Barlow had failed to attend for interview or respond to a letter under caution and the risk of harm to the environment was an aggravating feature.
The court heard he had previous convictions for environmental offences - on 28 October 2005 Barlow was found guilty at Doncaster Magistrates’ Court of two offences, committed on 4 October 2004, relating to the same site for keeping waste engines in a manner likely to pollute the environment and keeping non de-polluted motor vehicles. Barlow was fined £100 for the first offence and £1,000 for the second offence and was ordered to pay costs of £2,500.
District Judge Jonathan Bennett gave Barlow some credit for an early guilty plea, after hearing mitigation that he had suffered ill health before the offences had been committed and at the time of the later offence had been working away.
Mr Bennett said that Barlow was guilty of permitting the illegal use of the land, rather than running the operation himself, and acknowledged he had limited means.
Lewisham man fined for operating illegal waste site
Mr Mark Smith, who runs a skip hire business from Nightingale Grove, Lewisham, pleaded guilty on 27 January 2010 at Greenwich Magistrates Court for failing to hold an environmental permit under the Environmental Permitting (England & Wales) Regulations of 2007.
The court heard that the Environment Agency became aware of Mr Smith’s activities in November 2007 when he was warned to stop. In May and June 2009 the waste operation or waste transfer activities were continuing by the depositing, keeping and treating of controlled waste including waste wood, mattresses, metal and builders waste comprising of bricks and wood without an environmental permit.
Mr Smith was ordered to pay £4,000 in fines with prosecution costs of £2,000 and a victim surcharge of £15.
The 2007 regulations provide a risk-based framework for permitting and compliance covering various activities. The main aim of environmental permitting is to protect human health and the environment against harmful effects caused by the collection, transport, treatment, storage and tipping of waste.
Environmental Crime Officer Mike Real said:
“A message needs to be sent out to waste operators that they must be aware of their responsibilities to operate within the law. This type of waste must be disposed of correctly and have an environmental permit. Mr Smith ignored previous warnings from The Environment Agency and continued to operate an illegal waste site. We will not tolerate the inappropriate disposal of waste and will take suitable enforcement action against those operating outside of the law.”
Ed - Waste Management Licences are now known as Environmental Permits since the coming into force of the Environmental Permitting (E & W) Regulations 2007 on 6 April 2008.
Halifax business fined for white goods stockpile
An electrical retailer has been fined for illegally stockpiling old fridges, freezers and washing machines it collected from customers.
At Halifax Magistrates’ Court Trade Forward Electrical Wholesalers Limited (“Trade Forward”) - which trades as Direct Discounts - pleaded guilty to storing electrical goods at premises in Boothtown other than in accordance with an environmental permit.
It asked for a further offence, of collecting hazardous waste without notifying the Environment Agency, into account.
The company, of Trinity Business Park, Skircoat Road, Halifax, was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,850 and a victim surcharge of £15.
Trevor Cooper, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, said environment officers visited Trade Forward’s premises at Ladyship Mills, Boothtown, on 27 May 2009 and saw a large quantity of electrical goods, including washing machines, fridges and freezers.
The court heard that such appliances are classed as Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), a form of controlled waste, and companies storing this kind of waste are obliged to register with the Environment Agency.
Mr Cooper said employees at Ladyship Mills did not know whether Trade Forward had authorisation for this operation so the officers left to make further inquiries.
Having established that the site was not registered, the officers returned on 2 June 2009 and took photographs of the waste, some of which was hazardous, being stored outside with no covering.
In interview on 30 June 2009, a company director explained that the business sold white goods to the public and took away old appliances to the site at Ladyship Mills for collection by a waste contractor.
The court heard the company was unaware of the requirements, believing it was covered by their waste contractor’s registration.
Mr Cooper said the company’s failure to follow any due diligence procedures or make any inquiries of the Environment Agency about its legal obligations was an aggravating feature of the case.
In mitigation, the court heard Trade Forward had co-operated with the Environment Agency’s investigation and had committed the offences because of a lack of knowledge rather than by deliberately trying to avoid regulation.
The company, which has since registered its operation with the Environment Agency and engaged environmental consultants, had no previous convictions for environmental offences and was given credit for its early guilty plea.
Trade Forward Electrical Wholesalers Limited pleaded guilty to an offence that on and before 2 June 2009, it did operate a regulated facility, namely a storage facility for waste electrical goods including washing machines, fridges and freezers, on land at Ladyship Mills, Boothtown, Halifax, other than in accordance with an environmental permit contrary to Regulation 12 and 38(1)(a) of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2007.
The company asked for an offence to be taken into consideration, that on and before 2 June 2009, it did collect hazardous waste, namely waste fridges and freezers, on land at Ladyship Mills, Boothtown, Halifax (which land was not exempt) without having notified the Environment Agency.
Contrary to Regulation 21(1) and 65(b) of the Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2005 (as amended).
Ed - The WEEE regulations were brought in to reduce the amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment being produced and to encourage businesses to reuse, recycle and recover more.
Every year, the UK throws away around 2 million tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment, which is one of the fastest-growing types of waste in the UK and EU.
The regulations, which came into force in early 2007, apply to businesses which import, rebrand, manufacture, sell or dispose of electrical or electronic equipment.
To find out more about WEEE regulations and businesses’ responsibilities visit the website at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/weee
Waste offence fine for food supplier
Asiana Limited, a supplier and retailer of ‘ethnic food products’, based in Nottingham, was ordered to pay over £8,000 in fines and costs after failing to comply with packaging regulations.
Nottingham Magistrates’ Court heard that it is estimated that over 58 million tonnes of packaging is produced annually by the European community. Waste to landfill can cause many environmental problems whereas recycling can help conserve virgin resources.
The company pleaded guilty to nine charges between 2006 and 2008 that related to not registering with the Environment Agency, failing to meet its recycling obligations and for not producing a certificate of compliance during those years. The charges were brought under the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2005 and 2007.
It was estimated that the company had avoided costs of £4,575 by its non-compliance with the regulations.
For the Environment Agency, Michael Robinson told the Court that under the Producer Responsibility Obligations Regulations, companies who have an annual turnover in excess of £2 million and handle more than 50 tonnes of packaging per year must register with the Environment Agency or a recycling compliance scheme.
The Court heard that the Environment Agency undertook research into the company’s previous packaging waste production. It was ascertained that the company had failed to register or to produce evidence of the recycling of their packaging waste between 2006 and 2008.
Hannah Wooldridge, an Environment Agency officer involved in the investigation said: 'All companies must make themselves aware of environmental legislation which may affect them. The Environment Agency has a comprehensive website with details of our regulatory duties and legislation, and businesses can sign up to our free information service, NetRegs, which supports companies to comply with relevant legislation. We have launched an environmental toolkit on our website focussed on the food and drink industry, which may assist manufacturers, food importers and suppliers to remain on the right side of the law and benefit from the resource efficiency savings that can come with operating an environmentally aware business.”
In mitigation, the company said that it was unaware of the regulations and was now compliant with the legislation.
Asiana Limited was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay compensation of £2,304 and costs of £3,092.82, along with a £15 victim surcharge. Totalling £8,411.82.
Ed - More information can be found at www.netregs.gov.uk.
Egg producer fined £8,000
Duck egg producer Alan Twell fined £8,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £4,917 after pleading guilty to grossly polluting the Mallard Hurn Drain, Donington, Spalding with liquid waste and slurry.
Spalding Magistrates’ Court also ordered him to pay full compensation of £669 for work to reduce the impact of pollution to the South Forty Foot Drain.
The court was told that Twell had been working in a farming partnership with his wife for more than 20 years. Since May 2009 the partnership reared ducks to produce eggs at their farm. Previously they were reared at a different site on a contractual basis.
The pollution came to light in July 2009 when there had been reports to the Environment Agency of a fish kill in the drain.
Investigating officers found that as well as some dead fish, the water was pale grey and streaked with what appeared to be fungus and there was a strong rotting smell. They traced it back to Mallard House Farm where Twell trades as AC & KL Partnership.
Miss Claire Bentley, prosecuting, told the court that a yard at the farm was surrounded by duck barns and the officers noticed that liquids were draining from the barn entrances into gullies. Twell told them the gullies took dirty water and slurry effluent from the barn roofs and farm yard to a watercourse via a perforated pipe.
Samples taken on the day of the reported pollution immediately below where the pipe discharged into the ditch showed a BOD of 462 milligrams per litre, ammonia of 20.2 milligrams per litre and suspended solids of 960 milligrams per litre.
Discharges with a BOD in excess of 200mgms per litre are grossly polluting, ammonia is normally found at levels less than 1 milligram per litre and the higher the number of suspended solids, the more likely it is that it will settle and smother the aquatic life.
Miss Bentley told magistrates that a study of the ecology of 400m of a tributary leading to the drain showed that the gross pollution had significantly changed the invertebrate community so that only taxa which are tolerant to severe pollution were found alive.
She said more than 600m of the Mallard Hurn Drain itself was also severely affected and dead pike were found.
Twell told officers that after the visit by Agency officers to the farm he had created a lagoon to collect the dirty water and slurry, cleaned out the duck barns and brought in an environmental cleaning company to clean the drains and collect 2,000 gallons of waste liquid.
More than a month after the pollution was reported officers found that the pipe between the lagoon and the watercourse had not been blocked.
Miss Bentley told the court the discharge or waste liquid and slurry into the watercourse was intentional and was, in fact, normal practice as a means of disposal.
‘The discharge could have been prevented if good farming practice had been followed.’
Twell told officers that he only became aware of the problem when Environment Agency officers arrived at his farm.
In mitigation Mr Benjamin Ellis said Twell regretted the incident and has taken action to prevent further pollution incidents including relocating the ducks to a different site and constructing a new sump and septic tank at a cost of £10,000
After the hearing Agency officer Graham Cantellow said: ‘Mr. Twell should have been aware of his responsibility to manage the waste produced by commercially reared ducks and about the causes and results of pollution. All operators in this sector should read the Code of Good Agricultural Practice for the Protection of Water, Soil and Air which provides invaluable advice to farmers, growers and land managers on how to handle, store, use, spread or dispose of any substances that could pollute the environment.’
Ed - The code is available in hard copy, free of charge, from The Stationery Office, PO Box 29, Norwich, NR3 1GN (ISBN 9780112432845).
Slips, trips & falls cost the UK around £800M per year
Slip, trip and fall incidents in the workplace cost 40 workers their lives last year and cost society an estimated £800 million each year, the HSE has warned.
HSE figures show that slips and trips are the most common cause of major workplace injury in Britain. More workplace deaths are triggered by falls from height than any other cause, according to official statistics.
In addition to 40 fatalities, there were over 15,000 major injuries to workers, as well as over 30,000 workers having to take over three days off work.
As well as the human cost, preventable slips, trips and falls are having a serious financial impact on the UK. HSE estimates that the combined financial costs incurred by society as a whole is around £800million a year, at a time when both businesses and individuals are struggling financially during the current recession.
In response, HSE is launching a new phase of its Shattered Lives campaign, aimed at reducing slips, trips and falls in the workplace. The hard hitting campaign involves raising awareness of the impact of slips, trips and falls in the workplace and direct people to the new Shattered Lives website (www.hse.gov.uk/shatteredlives) for practical advice and guidance.
The campaign is targeted at those sectors were there are a high number of slips, trips and falls incidents each year, specifically, health and social care, education, food manufacturing, food retail, catering and hospitality, building and plant maintenance, and construction.
On the new campaign website, people will be able to find out information on how they can easily, and cost effectively, reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls in the workplace, and see what other organisations, such as Sainsbury's and First Line Digital, have done. Included on the site is an online tool (STEP) and a work at height access equipment toolkit (WAIT). Advice ranges from how to deal with spills and other slip risks, to the importance of using ladders correctly to reduce the risk of falling from height.
Peter Brown, Head of the HSE's Work and Environment Division, said:
"These figures highlight the very real and serious nature of preventable slip, trip and fall incidents in the workplace. Slips, trips and falls might sound funny but they shatter the lives of thousands of British workers ever year. Making improvements doesn't need to cost the earth and we are encouraging people to visit the Shattered Lives website, where they will be able to get simple and cost effective solutions to help manage slips, trips and falls hazards in their workplace."
"Be afraid..." - HSE Chair warns the energy industry
'Never allow short-term business pressures to blind you to the real and potentially devastating human and business consequences of neglecting process safety and asset integrity', is the warning the Chair of the HSE gave to an audience of oil and gas experts on16 February.
Judith Hackitt the HSE’s Chair and a chemical engineer, with more than 25 years' experience in industry was speaking about the importance of properly maintaining ageing on and offshore facilities, at an Energy Institute seminar during the International Petroleum Week conference in London.
Drawing on the lessons learned from numerous catastrophes, including the explosion at the BP Texas City refinery in 2005, Ms Hackett raised the importance of asset integrity and process safety leadership across all sub-sectors of the energy industry. She will emphasise that the problems are similar and that solutions should be shared across the whole industry.
Judith Hackitt said:
"If there is one thing we should have learned from Flixborough, Bhopal, Piper Alpha, Buncefield and Texas City, it is that lack of injuries and near misses is no guide whatsoever that all is well in process safety terms. Indicators which point to the absence of a problem - so far - say absolutely nothing about what might be about to happen. Short-term business pressures drove BP to cut capital expenditure at its Texas City plant by deferring projects and failing to monitor the subsequent impact of this. This had a dramatic impact on the repair and maintenance programme at the site and was a significant factor in the catastrophic explosion in 2005.
"Asset integrity is not simply about securing profitability and operational continuity. This is serious stuff. When we cease to be afraid of the potential for human suffering and devastating business consequences of a major incident in any of the industries represented here today, we lose sight of why it really is so important that we take this matter seriously."
Ed - Asset integrity can be defined as the ability of an asset to perform its required function effectively and efficiently whilst protecting health, safety and the environment. Asset integrity management is the means of ensuring that the people, systems, processes and resources that deliver integrity, are in place, in use and will perform when required over the whole lifecycle of the asset.
Link to Current and Future Challenges speech http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/speeches/transcripts/hackitt261109.htm
HSE announces appointment of new legal adviser
The HSE has announced that barrister, Peter McNaught, will take over the role of Legal Adviser when Alex Brett-Holt retires in March.
Former William Hulme's Grammar School student Peter, 50, lives in Altrincham, Cheshire, with his wife and three children. He graduated in law from Birmingham University and worked for the Crown Prosecution Service for 24 years, before joining HSE as Head of Enforcement and Litigation in 2008.
He will be responsible for HSE's 27-strong legal unit, overseeing the prosecution of more than 1000 offences a year, giving legal advice on all aspects of the organisation's work and drafting new legislation.
"Every year, hundreds of people are killed doing their job and many thousands more are seriously injured. HSE exists to make British workplaces safer and healthier, and I am delighted to have the opportunity to play a central role in our work to secure justice for British workers. I am looking forward to my new and challenging role in HSE. Through our teams of in-house and external lawyers, I want to ensure that the organisation continues to be provided with high quality legal advice in all aspects of its work. Not only will this help HSE achieve its strategic goal of securing justice but also contribute in many other ways to its mission to prevent death, injury and ill health to those at work and those affected by work activities."
Former chief legal adviser, Alex Brett-Holt
"I have thoroughly enjoyed my six years working with my many expert and committed colleagues in HSE. The highlight has been the opportunity to build a first class team of legal professionals in the northwest, following the decision to move to a single HQ in Bootle.
Since Peter joined HSE in 2008, he has been a key element in creating the new enforcement team and I am confident of its continuing success. His new role as Legal Adviser to the Board and Senior Management Team will enable him to use his judgement and experience to contribute to the corporate governance of HSE, enabling it to achieve its strategy goals: in particular, securing justice for those whose health and safety is compromised by poor health and safety."
Joint marine industry inspections mark new partnership
Marine businesses across Dorset will be among the first companies in the South West to benefit from a joint HSE and Local Authority (LA) partnership aimed at improving safety standards in business being branded as “Workwell Dorset.”
The marine sector inspection initiative was launched on 8 February. Inspectors from HSE and Dorset LAs planning to visit up to 55 small and medium-sized businesses in the higher risk categories. These categories will include manufacturing (diving equipment, consoles, fittings, propellers, etc.), engineering, repair and maintenance, boat yards, sail-makers and chandlers.
Visits will take place in the following locations: Blandford Forum, Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole, Portland, Swanage, Verwood, Wareham, Weymouth and Wimbourne.
During the inspection visits, inspectors will be looking at a range of issues including slips, trips and falls, working in confined spaces, spraying and ventilation, fire and explosion and chemical hazards. In addition to the actual visits, the Workwell Dorset officers have contacted more than 240 marine businesses to provide them with essential health and safety information via a newsletter.
Max Walker, HSE Head of Operations for the South West, said:
"This marine inspection initiative is an excellent example of our new partnership with the Dorset local authorities - we are, after all, both aiming to prevent death, injury and ill health to workers and the wider general public.
"Marine businesses vary greatly and their health and safety requirements will differ significantly. However, there will be certain common areas when it comes to the type of injuries and risks such businesses suffer and the great advantage of our new partnership visits is that the inspectors, between them, will be able to offer a wide range of expertise.
"We hope the success of this 'added value' initiative will lead to similar concentrated inspection weeks in other business sectors across Dorset - and ultimately, that the Workwell partnership concept might be spread across other county regions. You could say that local businesses are getting 'two for the price of one' when it comes to life-saving practical advice"
HSE welcomes IAEA report
The HSE has welcomed the publication of a second report into its Nuclear Directorate (ND) from the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
A team of senior nuclear regulators from across the world visited the UK in October 2009 to perform a second peer review of ND's work in regulating safety at Britain's nuclear facilities, the first being in 2006.
During the Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission, the IAEA visited two UK licensed sites and considered ND's self-assessment, together with progress since the first IRRS Mission in 2006.
IAEA also reviewed transition plans for ND to become an independent Nuclear Statutory Corporation (NSC).
Speaking of HSE's plans to set ND up as a NSC the IAEA Deputy Director General for Nuclear Safety and Security, Mr Tomihiro Taniguchi said the UK sets a global example.
He said: "It is so timely and vitally important to implement the UK Government's decision to set up HSE's Nuclear Directorate as an autonomous, more independent, well resourced nuclear regulator. This is the UK showing an encouraging example to all in the world in preparing for the challenges of the future."
The IAEA is the world's centre of co-operation in the international nuclear safety field. The Agency works with Member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies.
During the 2006 Mission the IAEA team recognised the UK nuclear safety regulatory system as mature, transparent with an advanced review process with highly trained, expert and experienced staff. It also found the Nuclear Inspections Inspectorate (NII) was internationally recognised for its contribution to safety regulation. Thirteen areas of good practice were identified in the 2006 report, the most of any other country reviewed up to that time.
In the second mission, the IAEA found ND has made further 'significant progress' toward improving its effectiveness in regulating existing nuclear power plants and in preparing to assess new nuclear reactors designs in a 'changing and challenging environment'. It also recognised additional areas of good practice as well as putting forward topics where ND could improve further to reach its aim of being world leading.
Mike Weightman, Head of ND and HM Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations said: "The Nuclear Directorate welcomes this important peer review of our regulatory arrangements and practices. It helps us in pushing forward our continuous improvement programme to ensure we maintain our ability to be a world leader in nuclear regulation in a period of significant change."
HSE guidance to baggage handling industry
The HSE is working alongside the aviation industry to help develop and provide guidance on baggage handling, and continues to stress the need for increased mechanical support.
The HSE's continued involvement with the airlines and ground handling companies is believed to have been helpful in convincing the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to introduce the new lower recommended individual bag weight of 23-25 kilos, introduced in the 2009 edition of the IATA Airport Handling Manual (AHM).
The HSE recognises that the weight of a load is only one risk factor in manual handling and other factors should also be taken into consideration to reduce risks, including work systems and frequency of manual handling.
Head of HSE's Transportation and Safety Unit, Nick Ratty said: "This is an ongoing international issue and HSE has always said that manual handling should be avoided altogether where practicable. Basic handling equipment can help reduce the need for manual handling, however HSE is aware of reports of such equipment not being used due to cost issues, or in-hold equipment being removed from aircraft due to its weight and size. New technology includes more sophisticated extending belt loaders, which convey bags right into the aircraft hold and would significantly reduce MSD risks. HSE will continue to work with the industry and others to reduce the risks to workers."
Ed - HSE has guidance on manual handling (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/l23.pdf ), including a hierarchy of action:
• avoid hazardous manual handling operations so far as is reasonably practicable;
• make a suitable and sufficient assessment of any hazardous manual handling operations that cannot be avoided; and
• reduce the risk of injury from those operations so far as is reasonably practicable
Myth: There's nothing you can do about slips and trips and they don't really hurt anyone anyway
Most slips and trips are preventable and many happen when spills aren't cleared up or clutter tidied away. Last year, there were four fatalities and more than 10 000 employees were seriously injured when they had a slip or trip at work. This results in broken bones and time off work, costing the economy around £800 million per year. Simple mistakes can shatter lives … your actions could help stop them from happening.
Don't take things for granted, cut corners or wait for someone else to do it. Clear up!