Corus has a hard time in court
Corus has been in court three times this month. On 1 March it was fined £5,000 after a worker was injured while clearing a jam in the production line at a its factory in Skinningrove, East Cleveland and on 12 March it was fined £100,000 following a mobile crane overturning.
In the first prosecution Corus UK Limited - trading as Corus Special Profiles - was also ordered to pay costs of £5,074 by Teesside Magistrates’ Court. The company had pleaded guilty of breaching Section 2(1) HSWA and breaching Regulation 3(1)(a) MHSWR 1999.
The court heard how on 24 May 2008, David Harrison, a team leader at the Skinningrove factory, was working on the mill floor where steel is rolled into long beams. He was attempting to clear a jam in a machine. This requires an operator activating controls above the mill floor.
The operator was unable to see Mr Harrison and so instructions were relayed via a third man using a combination of hand signals and shouting. Mr Harrison was struck by moving machinery, severely injuring his right leg.
After the case, HSE Inspector Bruno Porter, explained:
“This incident could have easily been avoided, but instead has left Mr Harrison with a badly injured leg for which he still needs medical help. Our investigations found that relaying instructions through another person was common practice on the mill floor, as radios were not always available and the noise in the factory made them hard to use. Despite the fact that clearing jams in machinery was a common operation, there was no record of a suitable and sufficient risk assessment for this activity and no recorded safe system of work in place. While Corus was aware of the hazards and had implemented safe operating procedures to deal with some of the risks, it failed to install a full safe isolation system, which had been identified as necessary prior to the incident.”
In the second prosecution Corus UK Ltd was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £9,908.50 costs after a mobile crane had overturned at the Aldwarke Steel Works in Rotherham on 4 September 2008.
Sheffield Crown Court heard that although the crane had been fitted with ‘safe working load’ alarms following concerns over its stability, they were not switched on because the driver had not been trained on using them. When the crane became overloaded no alarms sounded and it overturned.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Geoff Clark said:
“This is a serious health and safety breach by a company that globally employs tens of thousands of people which could easily have led to people being killed. The operator was extremely lucky to escape with only minor injuries. Today’s hearing highlights the importance of having an effective system in place for managing health and safety to stop easily avoidable incidents. In this case the measures in place were simply inadequate; in particular, there was a substantial failure to provide enough suitable training.”
Ed – I never cease to be amazed how large companies that should be intimately familiar with risks and risk management don’t get the basics right.
In the third case they were fined £10,000 following an explosion in a 75m steel chimney in Scunthorpe.
Four nearby contractors were lucky to escape serious injury in the incident at Dawes Lane Coke Ovens on 3 October 2007.
Corus UK Ltd pleaded guilty to two separate health and safety breaches at Scunthorpe Magistrates’ Court for failing to remove flammable gas from the chimney before undertaking hot repairs, and for not carrying out a proper risk assessment.
Magistrates heard that the chimney, known as a flarestack, required welding to put right earlier repair work on the structure.
However, the stack wasn’t adequately isolated from the live gas system when the welding took place, meaning traces of extremely flammable gas were present inside. The gas ignited during the work and almost blew the flarestack in half.
In addition to the £10,000 fine, Corus UK Ltd was also ordered to pay £6,155 in costs for breaching section 5(1) and section 6(1) of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002.
After the hearing HSE Inspector Helen Berry commented:
“It was sheer good fortune that nobody was killed or seriously injured by the explosion. We could so easily be talking about a catastrophic incident given the size and scale of the structure.
“The fact that there were no serious injuries doesn’t make this any less serious from a safety perspective. There were clear breaches relating to safe working and risk assessment, and it’s disappointing that a major employer like Corus failed in this regard and endangered the lives of workers.
“I hope today’s prosecution sends out a strong message to the industry of the importance of proper safety procedures, and I hope future incidents of this kind can be prevented.”
Ed – DSEAR prosecutions aren’t that common but we have 2 this month. I quote the relevant regulations later so read on!
Hydro Aluminium fined £100,000 following death
Hydro Aluminium Extrusion Ltd, of Caerphilly, Mid Glamorgan - which specialises in supplying aluminium extrusion and fabricated products has been fined a total of £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £13,375 at Durham Crown Court.
The court heard how on the afternoon of 2 November 2006, 38-year-old Jens Hinrichs, of Hexham, was working at the firm’s factory in Durham Road, Birtley, near Chester-le-Street.
Mr Hinrichs, who was originally from Germany and was employed as a Project Engineer at the company, was working within a shuttle line that transported finished aluminium products from the packing stations to the banding machine. At the rear of the four packing stations, a shuttle car ran on rail tracks, picking up finished items.
Mr Hinrichs was working in the enclosure when he was struck by the shuttle car. He was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
After the case, HSE Inspector Zoë Feather, said:
“This incident could have been easily prevented if the company had a suitable system to make sure workers could not gain access into the shuttle line. Where work needed to be carried out in the shuttle enclosure, suitable isolation procedures and systems of work should have been in place to prevent dangerous movement of machinery.
“Employers who operate machinery are required to undertake a thorough assessment to identify the risks from machinery and put in place suitable precautions. If the company had properly risk assessed the shuttle line and implemented a system to safely enter into the shuttle enclosure this tragic incident would not have happened.”
Hannes Hinrichs, Jens’ brother, was in court for the hearing. Afterwards he said:
“Jens’ death is tragic because he was working on a project to improve safety at the time. We hope that this court verdict will help to protect other employees from such horrible accidents.”
Death fall from statue.
Taylor Electronics (Manchester) Ltd, a neon-sign manufacturer and director, John Taylor have been prosecuted and fined after a worker was killed when he fell from the city’s Albert Memorial statue.
Ian Gutteridge was fitting a giant necklace to the 140-year-old statue when the cherry picker he was working on overturned. An investigation by HSE showed that the cherry picker had not been properly stabilised before being used.
Mr Gutteridge suffered head and chest injuries in the fall on 4 April 2007. He did not regain consciousness and died in hospital the next day. A photographer, who was also on the platform, was knocked unconscious but made a full recovery.
Manchester Crown Court heard that Taylor Electronics had agreed to fit the necklace - a giant glowing cross - to the statue in Albert Square to promote a jewellery exhibition in Manchester Town Hall.
HSE Inspector Sandra Tomlinson said:
“Mr Gutteridge’s death has had a devastating impact on his family, and it could easily have been prevented by properly stabilising the cherry picker.
“Taylor Electronics agreed to carry out an unusual job to help publicise the jewellery exhibition, but it then took unacceptable risks to achieve it. Mr Gutteridge would still be alive today if the correct safety procedures had been followed.”
Taylor Electronics, of Chester Road in Manchester, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,000. John Taylor, of Greenfield Road in Atherton, was fined £2,000.
Sandra Tomlinson added:
“Only one of the four legs on the cherry picker vehicle had been fully extended, which made it dangerously unstable. I hope this tragic case will highlight how important it is for companies to treat health and safety seriously.” The cherry picker after the accident
Royal Mail fined following death
Royal Mail has been fined £90,000 with costs of £42,549.56 by Reading Crown Court for breaching section 2 HSWA after admitting health and safety breaches following the death of an employee who was crushed by a reversing HGV.
The prosecution follows the death of 57-year-old yard shunter Colin Smith who was fatally injured in September 2006 at Royal Mail’s Heathrow Worldwide Distribution Centre (HWDC). The incident happened when a Royal Mail HGV driver was reversing his tractor to line up with a trailer unit parked at a loading bay at HWDC.
After lining up his vehicle, the driver left his cab and walked to the back of the unit to complete the manoeuvre but found Mr Smith had been trapped between the tractor and the trailer. Mr Smith had been removing a lock from the trailer at the time and suffered fatal injuries.
Karl Howes, HSE Inspector, said:
“This was a tragic accident which could have been easily prevented if Royal Mail had exercised
proper control of vehicle activities at the Heathrow Distribution Centre. The company failed to adequately assess the risk to shunters working in the yard or to identify and rectify the unsafe system and this contributed to Mr Smith’s death.
“In areas where vehicles are manoeuvring, employers have a legal duty to ensure that work can be done safely. Royal Mail’s guilty plea demonstrates that they acknowledge the failings and since the accident they have put measures in place to prevent a recurrence.”
Ed - In 2008/09, 25 people were killed at work as a result of being hit by vehicles.
Interestingly Ian Wheeler was found not guilty of breaching section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 arising from the same facts. His trial had begun on 22 February 2010.
Romtech Limited, a Cardiff based company, has been fined a total of £40,000 after a worker’s arm was seriously injured when it became trapped by a rotating drill at its Norton Canes, Cannock premises on 2 February 2009.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Reg 11(1) PUWER 1998 and Reg 3(1) MHSWR 1999 and was fined £20,000 for each of the two breaches and ordered to pay costs of £7,401.
Stafford Magistrates’ Court heard how Steven Jones, 28 from Staffordshire, an agency worker at the firm, was using a radial arm drill when his right hand glove became entangled in the rotating drill bit.
His right arm was caught and dragged into the drill, breaking both bones in his forearm, and severely damaging his muscles. His clothing was also drawn in to the machine to such an extent that he had to be cut free by the emergency services.
HSE inspector Andrew Bowker said:
“Mr Jones suffered a shocking fracture to his right arm and his injuries may have been much worse if he had not been able to use his left hand to hit the machine’s stop button. The potential safety risks associated with entanglement on radial arm drilling machines have been well known for decades and control measures have been well documented in HSE guidance going back to the 1970s. It is not acceptable that this type of incident is still happening. Companies must invest sufficient time and effort in risk assessment to ensure their radial arm drills have suitable guards or trip devices in position. They must also ensure that staff are aware of the risks and that supervisors and managers monitor working procedures.”
Costly welfare failure
The HSE has prosecuted Bryan Ellis Brown, a partner in Bryan Brown & Son, of Flamborough, Bridlington for not providing adequate toilet and washing facilities for staff on a construction site, after finding problems in July 2009.
Bridlington Magistrates Court heard a toilet unit that had been provided was not plumbed in nor was there water supplied to sinks in a cabin or adjacent toilet compartment at the construction site for a pair of cottages at High Green, Bridlington.
Following the initial HSE inspection an Improvement Notice was served on Mr Brown as the Principal Contractor requiring the provision of suitable toilet and washing facilities by 17 August 2009.
On a subsequent site visit on 19 August 2009 it was found that the requirements of the Improvement Notice had not been complied with. A sewage outlet had been provided to the toilet, but there was no water supply to the unit. Neither was there any water available at the sinks in the cabin or the adjacent toilet compartment, and no soap or towels were available.
A further site visit on 17 September 2009 found though a water supply had been provided to the toilet unit, and soap and towels had been provided but still no running water was provided to the sink units in the cabin or the toilet compartment.
Mr Brown, was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,215 after he pleaded guilty to the two health and safety breaches.
After the hearing HSE Inspector Geoff Clark reminded firms they have an obligation to provide basic facilities on site. He said:
“By failing to provide adequate welfare facilities on site, Bryan Ellis Brown subjected his employees to an unhygienic and potentially unsafe working environment. Having access to suitable welfare facilities is a basic human right for anyone engaged in any form of work, and to not provide those facilities is totally unacceptable.”
Ed - Section 21 HSWA states that: “If there is a breach of statutory duty and a likelihood or continuation or repeat of the breach, an improvement notice may be served specifying actions required within a given time scale...” Failing to comply with an Improvement Notice is an offence...
Regulation 22(1) (c) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 states: ‘The principal contractor for a project shall ensure that welfare facilities sufficient to comply with the requirements specified in Schedule 2 to above Regulations are provided throughout the construction phase.’
I find it remarkable that a construction company that must inevitably have the wherewithal to provide what is needed for proper welfare and sanitary arrangements could allow such a state of affairs to continue. I wonder whether the issue was given a high enough priority.
A Cambridgeshire groundwork contractor has been fined £3,500 after a worker was buried alive in an excavation collapse. Anthony John Melvyn Hill, 58, of Plantation Road, Sawston, was prosecuted by the HSE for breaching s2(1) HSWA reg 31(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. He was also ordered to pay costs of £2,000 by at Cambridge Magistrates Court.
On 22 October 2007, one of Mr Hill’s employees was undertaking groundwork on construction project at Penny Farm near Brinkley in East Cambridgeshire.
The Court heard that, whilst the employee was in a trench, the sides collapsed, burying him completely. The emergency services were called, and he was rescued alive from the collapse by other workers and the Suffolk Fire and Rescue team.
HSE Principal Inspector, Norman Macritchie said:
“This worker suffered a broken leg and bruising, and was incredibly fortunate to survive the horror of being buried alive. These types of easily preventable incidents are all too common and often prove fatal, so it is absolutely essential that employers and contractors ensure they have measures in place to protect their staff. Groundworks can be extremely dangerous and companies must make sure excavations are properly supported to avoid serious injury, or even death.”
Big mistake, small fine
Tanfield Metal Spinners Limited, of Parsons Industrial Estate, Washington has been fined £2000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,056 by Sunderland Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to breaching reg 11(3) PUWER 1998.
The court heard that on 10 September 2008, a worker was resetting the gear cog on the drive machinery of a metal spinning machine. The company had known for some time that the gears had been slipping out of place on regular basis.
The guard, which had been provided to prevent access to the dangerous parts of machinery, had been removed. The worker’s gloved hand was drawn into the gears which resulted in amputation of the end one of his fingers and serious injury to another.
After the case, HSE Inspector Dr Dave Shallow, said:
“This company put its workers at risk by expecting them to operate a defective piece of equipment. This incident that should never have happened. The company knew there had been problems with the machine’s gears and should have taken proper measures to ensure it was maintained. They should also have ensure that a guard was in place at all times to prevent access to dangerous parts of the machine. The company fully cooperated with HSE during the investigation and has taken steps to improve management of health and safety, including a reviewed of its risk assessment procedures.”
S Cartwright and Sons (Coachbuilders) Ltd has been prosecuted by the HSE after a worker was crushed by more than 2 tonnes of metal at an incident at Broadheath near Altrincham on 13 March 2008. The company was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £18,315 towards the cost of the prosecution at Manchester Crown Court. This was a prosecution for breaching the duty in s2(1) HSWA.
The court heard that David Jones was helping to move a stack of 6.7m long metal strips onto a trailer when the incident happened. The stack and lifting beam, weighing a total of 2.2 tonnes, fell onto him from the forks of a forklift truck.
Mr Jones broke his back in four places, 12 ribs and a shoulder blade, punctured a lung, bruised his heart and suffered stomach injuries.
HSE Inspector Richard Clarke said:
“One of S Cartwright and Sons’ workers was seriously injured because the company did not do enough to protect the safety of its employees. Mr Jones is still in constant pain and the incident could have killed him. The company regularly requires its employees to unload long stacks of metal strips, which are used to build the trailers for lorries. But, at the time of the incident, it did not provide suitable training or written guidance for its staff to handle long loads.
“Manufacturing companies can be dangerous places to work if the risks are not properly managed. It’s vital that good health and safety measures are put in place to prevent workers from being injured.” The metal strips and beam which injured David Jones
Vickers Construction Limited, of Yarm Road, Eaglescliffe has been fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,178.10 at Darlington Magistrates’ Court after it pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) HSWA .
The court heard how on 25 November 2008, an excavator was being used to dig a trench for drainage pipes on a sloping bank at the Allanbrae site, near Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.
Construction worker, John Taylor, 44 of Thornaby was laying pipes when the trench wall collapsed. Mr Taylor was trapped from the waist down for more than two hours and also suffered bruising to his legs. An investigation by the HSE showed that the driver of the excavator had not received suitable training in its use.
After the case, HSE Inspector Dr Dave Shallow, said:
“Trench collapses are a well-known cause of serious injuries and deaths in the construction industry and this incident could have easily been avoided. The employee using the excavator should have been properly trained and industry guidance, which recommends providing shoring or trench boxes, should have been followed. Companies need to recognise the dangers of excavations and ensure safe systems of work are in place before workers enter excavations.”
Merseyside builder fined after putting lives at risk
A Merseyside builder has been fined £1,500 after he and another man were spotted working on a pub roof in St Helens without safety equipment.
The HSE prosecuted Charles Molloy from Molloy Building Contractors after an inspector spotted the men on the roof of the Black Horse Hotel on Park Road on 18 June 2009 (see photo).
St Helens Magistrates’ Court heard that Mr Molloy, 64, had been hired to replace the ridge tiles on the top of the pub roof. But neither he nor the worker he employed wore harnesses, put up scaffolding or took any other safety precautions.
Mr Molloy also ignored advice he was given about the way he was working by an Environmental Health Officer from St Helens Council, a few days before HSE’s visit.
Mr Molloy, of Marshalls Cross, St Helens, pleaded guilty to breaching Reg 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 by failing to take measures to prevent workers falling.
He was ordered to pay £1,000 towards the cost of the prosecution in addition to the fine at St Helens Magistrates’ Court on 9 March 2010.
HSE Inspector Sandra Tomlinson said:
“Mr Molloy apparently had little concern for his own safety, or that of those he employed, by working so precariously on a rooftop. When we visited the site and saw both men still working on the roof without safety equipment after previous warnings, we had no choice but to take legal action. Falls from height kill dozens of workers every year and seriously injure hundreds more. We will therefore continue to prosecute employers who put lives in danger.”
Ed - Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: “Where work is carried out at height, every employer shall take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury.”
There is stupidity and stupidity.
Driffield-based Shane Homes Limited but registered in Hull has been fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £799 costs at Beverley Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to breaching reg 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
The court heard that during a routine inspection on a house extension in Longcroft Park, Molescroft, Beverley, on 7 September 2009, the HSE found an employee working on scaffolding that was unsafe and posed a risk of serious, if not fatal, injuries.
An investigation revealed that employees working at the first floor extension were put at risk of a fall of up to 4m. The scaffolding had no edge protection in place, and an access ladder was too short and not secured.
Following the hearing HSE Inspector, Geoff Clark said:
“Falls from height remain the largest cause of fatal and serious injuries in the construction industry. The scaffolding at the Shane Homes construction site was dangerous and people should not have been expected to use it.
“The law is quite clear and there is much guidance provided by the HSE and industry bodies on the required standards for working at height. We hope today’s prosecution serves as a reminder to companies using scaffolding that they need to ensure it is erected by trained and competent people, and that it is safe to use.”
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
Newquay hotel fined for safety concerns at building site
Bluechip Hotels Ltd of Lusty Glaze Road, Porth has pleaded guilty to breaching sections 2(1) & 3(1) HSWA for failing to provide guardrails on a bridge, over an excavation site. The company was fined £1,500 for each offence and ordered to pay £2,000 in costs.
The court heard inspectors from the HSE visited the site at Glendorgal Resort, Lusty Glaze Road, Newquay, during February and March 2008.
The inspectors were concerned that some employees were being asked to work at height
without suitable precautions being taken. They also raised concerns about blocked walkways around the site.
Two Improvement Notices were served, but during a follow-up visit in March 2008 inspectors discovered work was continuing in the same way, prompting HSE to prosecute the company.
The Bluechip Hotels Ltd site in Newquay
Blairish Restorations Limited of Aberfeldy Business Park, Dunkeld Road, Aberfeldy has pleaded guilty to offences under s3 HSWA and has been fined £10,000 at Perth Sheriff Court following the acute lead poisoning of workers engaged in renovation work.
The company failed to identify that lead paint was present during a renovation project at Findynate House, Findynate Estate, Strathtay and failed to ensure suitable precautions were taken whilst the old paintwork was sanded down and removed. Consequently workers inhaled and ingested lead dust over several months during the summer of 2008. The dust was also spread to workers’ homes, potentially endangering workers’ families, from the workers’ overalls.
HSE Inspector, Gary Stimpson, commented:
“This case is important as it reminds primary contractors of their responsibility and duty of care to others working on the site - even if they are not directly employed by them. Exposure to Lead can result in significant and debilitating symptoms such as anaemia, nausea and constipation and even nerve, brain and/or kidney damage.
“There may be a view that lead is an historic problem, which was dealt with a long time ago. This prosecution shows that this is not the case. Those involved in renovating old buildings need to be particularly vigilant. Once dust or fume is generated from operations such as sanding, paint burning it easily enters the body through normal breathing or swallowing, where it accumulates causing debilitating symptoms.”
Ed – it reinforces yet again the need to know what you are working on and to have performed proper risk assessments on the basis of appropriate knowledge. Lead poisoning is mercifully rare these days – but this sort of problem – dealing with an historic legacy is not. One only has to think about asbestos and asbestos containing materials by way of comparison.
Fines after worker left brain damaged by fall
Two directors of a decorating company Liversedge Decorating Contractors Ltd and a second company Foster Turn-Key Contracts Ltd have been prosecuted after a worker was left brain damaged whilst working at a residential refurbishment.
Self-employed Trevor Dawson from Ravensthorpe, West Yorkshire, was working as a painter on a student accommodation refurbishment when the incident happened 15 August 2007. Huddersfield Magistrates’ Court heard Mr Dawson, 58, was working at Ashenhurst Student Village in Newsom when he apparently fell from a ladder, though no witnesses could confirm this.
The HSE investigation found principal contractor Foster Turn-Key Contracts Ltd and Liversedge Decorating Contractors Ltd, contracted to decorate the flats, had allowed work to be carried out that was not adequately planned or supervised and had used inappropriate equipment.
Liversedge Decorating Contractors Ltd of Mountain Road, Thornhill, Dewsbury, pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 4 (1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, and were fined £2,000. Paul Daniel of Brighouse, and Clive Dewhirst of Dewsbury, both directors of the company also pleaded guilty to the same charge. They were fined £1,000 each.
Foster Turn-Key Contractors of Plover Road, Lindley, Huddersfield, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 22 (1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. They were fined £2,000.
Mr Dawson is unable to recall any details of the incident because of his injuries sustained to his head.
After the hearing HSE Inspector David Stewart said:
“The ladder Trevor Dawson used, which we believe may have caused or contributed to his fall, was simply not suitable for the work he was doing. It was a domestic step ladder which should not have been allowed on the site.
“In this situation, a tower scaffold would have been much more appropriate.
“Falls from height remain the single most common cause of fatality and serious injury in the construction industry. The law is quite clear and HSE provides freely-available guidance on how work at height should be managed.
“In this instance, individual directors of a company were found guilty for not planning and supervising the work properly. This case should send a clear message to company directors
about their responsibilities for health and safety.”
Ed Regulation 4 (1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states:
(1) Every employer shall ensure that work at height is -
appropriately supervised; andb.
carried out in a manner which is so far as is reasonably practicable safe, and c. that its planning includes the selection of work equipment in accordance with regulation 7 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
Regulation 22 (1) of the Construction (Design and Management) management regulations 2007 states that: The principal contractor for a project shall ...
plan, manage and monitor the construction phase in a way which ensures that, so d. far as is reasonably practicable, it is carried out without risks to health or safety.
W A Church Limited fined
W A Church Limited, a Suffolk seed producer has been fined after a worker suffered serious injury when he fell while loading a vehicle.
Peter Snowling’s injuries included a fractured skull and spinal injuries after the 49-year-old fell from a ramp while loading a shipping container with sacks of peas at High Fen Seed Store, Dead Lane in the town.
The company was fined £8,000 with £4,642 costs, at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates Court after admitting breaching s2(1) HSWA 1974.
The HSE investigation found that the company had failed to take sufficient steps to ensure the risks associated with work at height were identified and controlled.
HSE Inspector, Saffron Turnell said:
“If Mr Snowling’s employer had taken precautions to ensure his safety, this incident could have been avoided. Working at height remains one of the most dangerous things employees can do. This case highlights the need for companies to do everything possible to minimise the risks employees face when working at height.”
Rosyth Royal Dockyard Ltd fined £10,000
Rosyth Royal Dockyard Ltd was fined £10,000 after a steel plate fell during a lifting operation on 5 February 2009 and caused severe injury to a contractor’s hand. The contractor, employed by Robert Summers Transport Ltd of Buckhaven was involved in an accident during a steel plate lifting operation.
Rosyth Royal Dockyard Ltd pled guilty to a charge under Section 3 of the Health and Safety
at Work etc Act 1974. The case was heard in Dunfermline Sheriff
Serial gas offender prosecuted for endangering lives
A serial gas offender from West Yorkshire who put lives at risk by carrying out illegal gas installations has been given a suspended jail sentence.
Ryan Thorpe, 24, from Ashdene Grove, Pontefract, faces 8 months imprisonment - suspended for two years - if he fails to mend his ways after pleading guilty to 8 separate breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 at Pontefract Magistrates Court. He was also ordered to pay £500 costs.
The prosecution follows an investigation by the HSE relating to work carried out at two addresses in Goole in July, August and September 2009.
Magistrates heard that in July 2009 Mr Thorpe, who was not Gas Safe registered, illegally removed and fitted a new boiler at a home in Centenary Way, Goole, East Yorkshire. This work was classified as a potential risk to life or property.
On the 26th August 2009, Mr Thorpe went on to remove and then install another gas appliance at a home in Parliament Street, Goole. During this job he failed to seal the joint on a pipe from the gas meter correctly, causing a gas leak which was so serious that the gas supply had to be shut off.
When called back to the address on 2 September 2009, he illegally reinstated the supply.
Leicestershire company fined for unsafe work at height
A Leicestershire company has been fined for failing to ensure the safety of 3 contractors working on roof 7m off the ground.
Cobham Advanced Composites Ltd, of Gelders Hall Road, Shepshed, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for allowing three contractors to work on the roof without adequate safety measures to prevent them falling.
Workers on the roof of the Cobham Advanced Composites building
The company pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) HSWA at Loughborough Magistrates’ Court and was fined £10,000 and also ordered to pay costs of £4,777.90.
The court heard that between 8 December 2008 and 16 January 2009 Cobham Advanced Composites employed Streamline Guttering and Cladding, of Kirkby Muxloe, to install new guttering on its 7m building.
The workers could access the roof by a mobile tower at the front of the building, but there was no equipment to stop the men falling at the back of the building where work was underway.
Streamline Guttering and Cladding was fined at an earlier hearing after pleading guilty to breaching the Work At Height Regulations 2005.
Prosecuting, HSE Inspector Mhairi Lockwood said:
“Working on roofs is a high risk activity. There was a foreseeable risk of a fall through either fragile roof lights or from the unprotected edge of the building. Any of the three roofing contractors could have suffered serious injuries or worse if they had fallen. This case shows that it is not only the responsibility of the contracting company to ensure the safety of its workforce, but also that of its client.”
Building company fined after digger runs over worker
Brothers Bryan Christopher Kendra and Michael Antony Kendra of L & S Kendra & Sons, Meadow Bank, Melbourne, East Yorkshire, were each fined £9,000 and each ordered to pay £2,500 in costs after both men pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Beverley Magistrates Court heard that on 29 July 2009, at a construction site at May Cottage, Mill Lane, Seaton Ross, Bryan Kendra was driving a reversing 360 degree excavator digger, when it struck and drove over bricklayer, Andrew Trezise.
Mr Trezise, 56, from Pocklington, suffered a broken pelvis and serious leg injuries in the incident.
The HSE investigation found that there were no markings to indicate where the digger was working, to ensure that it was separated from pedestrian movements on site. A reversing assistant had not been deployed to oversee reversing manoeuvres for the digger prior to the incident.
Convicted following death
Edward James Day (trading as E J Construction) of Longfield Road, Longfield, Kent has been fined £20,000 by Maidstone Crown Court. A jury found Mr Day, 54, guilty of breaching section 2(1) HSWA and reg 37(6) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.
The prosecution, brought jointly by Kent Police and the HSE followed an incident on 5 December 2007. An employee of E J Construction, Mark Wilkin, was working to extend a finger of land which was being used as a temporary roadway out into a flooded quarry at
Salt Lane in Cliffe. The vehicle he was driving, a site dumper, came off the roadway and Mr Wilkin became trapped under it in the quarry. He drowned at the scene.
Melvyn Stancliffe, HSE Inspector, said:
“This case demonstrated - as do so many site transport incidents - that reliance on a competent driver and a properly-maintained vehicle is simply not enough. Workplace transport incidents are nearly always preventable. Had Mr Day ensured that the simple measure of providing proper edge protection to the site roads was in place then the risk of vehicles leaving the road could have been prevented.
“This tragic case so sadly illustrates the hazards that are all too frequently faced by construction workers.”
Geoff Payne, Detective Inspector for Kent Police, said:
“We are pleased that Mr Day has been found guilty of charges relating to health and safety offences. This case highlights the need for employees to follow the strict guidelines that are set out to keep workers safe.
“Kent Police in Medway has successfully worked alongside the HSE to secure this conviction and are pleased that the fine reflects the severity of his actions. This is a tragic case and our thoughts remain with the family of Mr Wilkin. I would to thank them for their patience and understanding throughout the investigation.”
Ed - Regulation 37(6) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 states: Suitable and sufficient measures shall be taken so as to prevent any vehicle from falling into any excavation or pit, or into water, or overrunning the edge of any embankment or earthwork.
Two landlords and a gas service engineer have been fined a total of £19,000 after risking the lives of a mother and her six-year-old daughter.
The HSE brought the prosecution at Southampton Magistrates Court after Motoko Riley and her six-year-old daughter Emily were severely affected by carbon monoxide.
Landlords of the property, brothers Robert and David Watts, both of Woodlands, Southampton, were repeatedly warned that the boiler needed servicing over a period of almost four years and failed to act.
Each man pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(2) HSWA 1974 and was each fined £7,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,500.
David MacDonald of Hythe, Southampton, was the property’s gas service engineer, and declared the boiler safe to use three times when it was not. He pleaded guilty to four counts of breaching regulations 5(3) and 6(2) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 on dates between 6 April 2005 and 3 December 2007. He was fined a total of £5000
for these offences and costs of £548.
On 2 December 2007, Mrs Riley and her daughter Emily were at their home in Portswood Road, Southampton. Emily became ill and began to drift in and out of consciousness and Mrs Riley started to suffer bad headaches and began vomiting. Both were taken from the house in a barely conscious state and then taken to hospital by a neighbour suffering from severe carbon monoxide poisoning.
When HSE investigated the level of carbon monoxide produced by the central heating boiler in the family’s home, it was so high it was off the scale of the measuring equipment used by inspectors.
Recycling company following arson attack
BCB Environmental Management Limited, based at Marston Business Park, Rudgate in Tockwith, pleaded guilty to breaching regulations 6 and 7 of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) after illegally processing drums of volatile chemicals close to unprotected electrical equipment and forklift trucks. They were fined fined £40,000 for failing to safeguard flammable liquid that was used in an arson attack on the business.
The breaches came to light during a joint investigation by the HSE and North Yorkshire Police following an arson attack by a former employee in October 2008. The arsonist, who was later convicted for his crime, had ready access to the drums, which he ignited to start a blaze.
After the hearing HSE Inspector Stephen Britton commented:
“BCB Environmental Management Ltd processed drums containing flammable liquid close to unprotected electrical equipment, creating a real risk that they could have gone up at any time. As a hazardous waste specialist BCB should have been well aware of the relevant legislation and should never have handled flammable material in this way.
“Today’s prosecution offers food for thought, not just for the management at BCB, but for all involved in the recycling industry working with similar equipment and materials; they must adhere to the relevant legislation at all times to protect lives.”
HSE inspectors also found a dangerous drum crushing machine in use at BCB, which contravened the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
Harrogate Magistrates Court heard that a vital safety guard was missing from the machine, which exposed operators to dangerous internal mechanics, including a hydraulic ram capable of applying two tones worth of pressure.
Furthermore, employees would have struggled to stop the crusher should an accident have occurred because the safety stop switch was covered in grime and was almost unrecognisable.
BCB Environmental Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching reg 11 PUWER.
The company was ordered to pay £6,110 in costs for the three breaches in total.
Stephen Britton added:
“The removal of a safety guard on the drum crushing machine is unbelievable. The guard is there for one reason and one reason only, to protect workers. The consequences of exposing human limbs to a two tonne hydraulic crusher would be horrific.”
Ed we don’t see too many DSEAR prosecutions so here are the relevant regs.
Regulation 6 DSEAR states: “Every employer shall ensure that risk is either eliminated or reduced so far as is reasonably practicable.”
Regulation 7 states: “Every employer shall classify places at the workplace where an explosive atmosphere may occur into hazardous or non-hazardous places...”
Briggs of Burton fined after worker’s arm trapped in drill
Briggs of Burton plc, of Derby Street, Burton-on-Trent, has been fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £1,922 in costs at Burton-on-Trent Magistrates’ Court after admitting breaching s2(1) HSWA following one of its workers being injured when he got his arm trapped in a drilling machine.
In March 2009, the employee was using a pillar drill when the left arm of his overalls became entangled around the rotating drill. He became trapped and was unable to reach the off switch, suffering a broken finger and cuts to his arm.
He was only freed after shouting to a colleague who rushed over to turn off the machine and release him from it. The HSE investigation later revealed there was no guard or emergency stop on the machine.
HSE Inspector Gail Pannell said:
“The dangers of operating these drills without a guard have been well documented for many years. Installing a guard and providing an emergency stop control are two vital safety measures - this company had done neither.
“The employee was very fortunate the drill wasn’t operating at a higher speed or his injuries could have been much worse. But they could have been prevented all together had the company complied with its legal obligation by having the necessary equipment installed.”
Ammex Limited fined after worker plunge
A Llanelli cladding firm, Ammex Limited has been fined after an employee fell through an open skylight at a retail unit he was working on.
Stephen Armstrong-Esther was re-cladding a retail outlet roof at the Parc Trostre retail outlet when the incident occurred on 2 August 2005.
In a prosecution brought by the HSE Llanelli Magistrates’ Court heard Mr Armstrong-Esther was working for Ammex Ltd. He was carrying a roof panel with a colleague when he fell almost 4m through an unprotected skylight onto a mezzanine floor below. He sustained serious injuries including fractures to his ribs and back, nerve damage to his leg and also memory and hearing loss.
Ammex Ltd was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £6,750 costs after pleading guilty to breaching s2(1) HSWA.
In warning of the dangers of working at height, HSE Inspector Anne Marie Orrells said:
“Mr Armstrong-Esther has suffered long lasting effects from his injuries since the incident which is now four years ago, and which could have been prevented. Openings, such as skylights, in roofs must have suitable protection around them to prevent workers from falling into them.”
Contractor fined following incident at sewage works
Morgan Est plc, of Corporation Street, Rugby, Warwickshire, has pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) PUWER and reg 3(1) MHSWR at Huddersfield Magistrates Court following an incident at Huddersfield Waste Water treatment works in March 2008 when an employee lost an arm.
It was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,163.
The court heard that on 12 March 2008, an engineer employed by the company lost his right arm after coming into contact with a rotating screw conveyor on a newly installed piece of equipment at Neiley Waste Water Treatment, Works, New Mill Road, Holmfirth.
Morgan Est plc, the principal contractor was engaged by Yorkshire Water to carry out refurbishment of the waste water treatment works. A new sludge treatment plant had been installed at the works by the firm and was in the process of being commissioned when the accident occurred.
HSE’s investigation found that a fixed guard on a screw conveyor had been removed to allow clearance of a blockage of sludge in the conveyor.
The court heard blockages had occurred before but on previous occasions the machine had been isolated prior to any work being carried out.
The Company accepted that it had failed to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment for the clearing of blockages within the sludge plant during commissioning works and that access to the rotating screw arose because the plant had not been isolated prior to removal of the guard.
After the hearing HSE Inspector Dave Stewart said:
“Morgan Est Limited Plc should have ensured the commissioning of the new equipment was thoroughly risk assessed.
Blockages had occurred previously on this piece of plant and a clear and concise method for dealing with the blockages should have been established and communicated to workers on the site.
“Commissioning of plant can often present extreme hazards hence the need for thorough planning and control of such work by employers.”
A mile of watercourse was polluted by sewage effluent from Marsh Farm at Wrangle by farming company Staples Brothers Ltd. The company pleaded guilty to causing the pollution between June and August 2009 and was fined a total of £10,000 and ordered to pay £4,939.99 costs.
Miss Claire Bentley told the court that a tributary of the Wrangle Drain had become polluted through two separate pipes discharging from the farm and there had been a severe impact on aquatic life.
She explained to magistrates that Wrangle Drain feeds into the Wash which is just under 2 miles away from the farm. The Wash is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), a Special Protection Area (SPA) and a Ramsar site and is also recognised nationally as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Miss Bentley said the company could have prevented or restricted the impact if monitoring of the discharges and watercourse had been carried out.
Magistrates heard that the two discharge pipes carried sewage effluent from treatment plants designed to deal with waste from caravans on site for seasonal agricultural workers.
Director of Staples Brothers Mr Vernon Read told investigating officers the company did not know it was discharging polluting effluent. It had assumed that, as the treatment plant was new and bought at considerable expense, it would function correctly.
He said that since the incident faulty compressors had been replaced, the new treatment plant had been serviced and the treatment plant had been de-sludged.
After the hearing Environment Agency team leader ManFai Tang said: ‘Water is a vital resource that should be protected from the risk of pollution. Companies with treatment plants which discharge into water courses have a responsibility to ensure they are not having an adverse impact on the environment.’
‘In this situation a protected waterway was put at risk and it was fortunate that we discovered the problem when we did.’
Ed - Staples Brothers Ltd pleaded guilty to:
1. Between 1 June 2009 and 19 August 2009 you did cause poisonous, noxious or polluting matter, namely sewage effluent, to enter (via discharge pipe 2) controlled waters, namely
a tributary of the Wrangle Drain at Marsh Farm, Sea Lane, Wrangle, Boston, Lincolnshire.
Contrary to section 85(1) and 85(6) of the Water Resources Act 1991. Fined £5,000
2. Between 1 June 2009 and 19 August 2009 you did cause poisonous, noxious or polluting matter, namely sewage effluent, to enter (via discharge pipe 3) controlled waters, namely a tributary of the Wrangle Drain at Marsh Farm, Sea Lane, Wrangle, Boston, Lincolnshire.
Contrary to section 85(1) and 85(6) of the Water Resources Act 1991. Fined £5,000
Scrap metal fine in Moreton
The operator of a scrap metal yard in Moreton has been fined £6,000 for operating outside of environmental law and ordered to pay nearly £3,000 in costs.
Shane Dooley pleaded guilty at Wirral Magistrates to a charge relating to the storage of waste cars and parts in a way likely to cause environmental damage.
Environment Agency officers first visited the site on Tarran Way South in January 2009 following complaints from members of the public. They found over 150 vehicles stored on the site on unmade ground. This left the potential for oil and fluids to leak from the vehicles and contaminate local land. Hazardous wastes including vehicle batteries were also being stored on site.
The site was advised that they need a permit to carry out the activities, and must put in place appropriate measure to ensure they did not cause damage to the environment through pollution.
Initially, no improvements were made, and a environmental permit application remained outstanding. This resulted in the Environment Agency issuing an enforcement notice to get the waste removed from the site.
On the expiry date of this notice (20 April 2009), Environment Agency officers visited the site, and found that it had been cleaned up. An application for an exemption has since been approved for the site to comply with relevant environmental legislation.
Sophie Murphy, Environment Agency Officer said, “Scrap metal operators can have a real impact on our local environment if they do not have the necessary precautions in place to avoid hazardous waste such as oil and battery fluid contaminating local land and water courses. Environmental regulations are in place to ensure this does not happen. We are pleased that Mr Dooley has now acted on our advice, and would encourage other operators to do the same.”
Mr Dooley is now operating a fully legal end of life vehicle site in Birkenhead.
Forest fly-tipper punished
A Scarborough builder who dumped waste in woodland near the town has been ordered to
carry out 180 hours’ work for the benefit of the community.
Graham Andrew Watling had denied fly-tipping but was found guilty of two offences at York Crown Court following a two-day trial earlier this month. He was acquitted of two charges in relation to a third fly-tipping offence.
At York Crown Court, Watling, 48, of Gildercliffe, Scarborough, was sentenced to a 180-hour community punishment order and was ordered to pay a £1,000 contribution towards prosecution costs.
On two separate dates in August 2008, Forestry Commission staff reported fly-tipping at two different locations - at Rapton View car park, and near Wykeham Nurseries - in Wykeham Forest.
When environment officers attended they noticed distinctive waste they had seen earlier on the back of Watling’s truck, such as a fridge without a door and a toilet cistern with purple paint on the side. They also found correspondence and documents belonging to neighbours of Watling.
In interviews, Watling initially agreed the vehicle was his, as was some of the waste, and said neighbours had placed waste on the back with his consent. He went on to claim the waste was still on the back of the vehicle when he sold it, in June or August 2008, and the purchaser must have been responsible for the fly-tipping.
Diana Maudslay, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told the court that the offences were deliberate and financially motivated and those facts, and the impact on legitimate operators, were aggravating features of the case.
Speaking after the sentencing, Alan Eves, Forest Management Director with the Forestry Commission, said: “Fly-tipping is not only one of the most anti-social of all activities, but it also poses a serous threat to forest wildlife and public safety. Every year in the North York Moors we spend over £10,000 clearing up the mess, with Wykeham one of the hotspots. Today’s sentencing shows that fly-tippers will eventually be caught and made to face the music for their reckless deeds.”
Waste hoarder given suspended prison sentence
An Oxfordshire skip hire contractor who consistently flouted waste regulations has been given a suspended prison sentence after being found in contempt of court.
His actions spoiled an area of outstanding natural beauty in the Chiltern Hills and he was given the sentence after consistently ignoring court orders.
On Friday, 12 March, Oxford County Court found Geoffrey David Parker, of Hundridge Farm, Ipsden Heath, Oxfordshire, in contempt of court for continuing to keep controlled waste on his farm and in nearby Cox’s Lane without an environmental permit. The court gave Mr Parker a 28-day suspended prison sentence and ordered him to pay the Environment Agency’s costs of £18,000. The warrant is suspended until 15 May 2010 and all the waste must be
removed by that date.
Oxford County Court heard that Mr Parker, 70, has been working in the skip hire business for approximately 40 years. Mr Parker’s farm is located in an area of outstanding natural beauty, with waste visible at the entrance to the farm along a popular bridleway known as Cox’s Lane. Local walkers, riders and cyclists have described the site as ‘shocking’ and a ‘blot on the landscape’ which has spoilt their enjoyment of the countryside.
The Environment Agency had been dealing with Mr Parker and his mismanagement of waste at Hundridge Farm since 1995. He has been prosecuted on three previous occasions for bringing in a variety of waste without a permit, the last occasion being in June 2008.
Following that case, Mr Parker was served with two enforcement notices requiring him to clear the waste from the site. This included metals, wood, plastics, batteries, rubber tyres, hardcore and household items. But during follow up visits environment officers found the majority of the waste remained, in breach of the notices.
The Environment Agency applied for an injunction to prevent Mr Parker bringing more waste onto the land and to remove all the waste on site. At Oxford County Court on 15 July 2009, Mr Parker agreed to clear all the waste from the land by 31 August 2009. He also agreed to stop bringing in waste.
However, despite his promise to the court, Mr Parker failed to remove all the waste from the site and the Environment the Agency applied to commit Mr Parker for contempt of court. Environment officers visited the site throughout 2009 and 2010 to find large piles of waste still being stored illegally.
In relation to the application to commit the court gave Mr Parker further time to comply at hearings on 9 November and 16 December 2009 (at the latter hearing, Mr Parker made admissions as to various breaches). At the hearing on 12 March 2010 the court heard how although some progress had been made in removing waste from the site, Mr Parker was still in breach and therefore was found to be in contempt of court.
Environment Agency officer Holly Linham said: “Mr Parker has had ample opportunity to establish his business on a legal footing, but has made a conscious decision not to. In failing to obtain a permit, Mr Parker has clearly not taken his waste management responsibilities seriously, despite three previous prosecutions. By operating outside the law he has put the environment at considerable risk and has gained a considerable competitive advantage over legitimate waste businesses in the area.”
Legitimate businesses have to have sites with planning approval that also comply with conditions imposed by the Environment Agency such as impermeable hard standing to protect the water table and noise and dust suppression features.
“We are pleased the court has recognised the gravity of this case and hope it sends out a strong and clear message to those who think they can profit from illegal waste activities, that the Environment Agency will take every step possible to protect the environment and bring offenders to justice.”
Brewery gets hangover from waste offences
A London brewery has been ordered to pay £30,751 today (25 March 2010) after failing to comply with the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007.
Young & Co Brewery Plc pleaded guilty at South Western Magistrates Court in Battersea to failing to register with the Environment Agency, failing to meet its requirements to recover and recycle packaging waste and failing to furnish a certificate of compliance in 2007 and 2008.
Young’s are a long established business, running more than 200 pubs in the south of England as licensors.
It was estimated that the company had avoided costs of £20,811.923 by not registering and purchasing the correct amount of Packaging Recovery Notes.
The company was fined £27,000 (six offences), ordered to pay the Agency compensation of £1,552 in respect of unpaid registration fees and £2,199 in costs to the Agency.
Under the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations, companies who have an annual turnover in excess of £2 million and handle more than 50 tonnes of packaging per annum must register with the Environment Agency or a compliance scheme. Each year, the company must also provide evidence of payment for recovery and recycling of a specified proportion of their packaging. The types of packaging covered by this legislation are wood, aluminium, steel, cardboard and plastic.
The regulations are designed to make companies assess the amount of packaging they handle and, where possible, limit its use. The money raised from this legislation is directly invested in the recycling industry. Many organisations remain unaware of their responsibilities despite details being available in trade journals, through trade organisations and online.
The Environment Agency found out that the company was not registered with a compliance scheme in January 2009. The company contacted the Environment Agency’s waste industry regulation services team as they had realised that they had not registered as a producer under the Regulations since the 2006 registration year due to an oversight and wanted to make late registrations. The company was advised that they should register for the 2009 year but that it was too late to register for the years 2007 and 2008.
Elaine Cory, investigating officer for the Environment Agency said: “Although Young’s had previously registered and complied with the regulations, this case serves as a reminder to companies obligated under the packaging regulations to ensure that they remain compliant with the regulations. The money the company has saved by not registering and purchasing Packaging Recovery Notes would have directly supported the recycling industry.”
Ed - The Producer Responsibility (Packaging Waste) Regulations were originally implemented in 1997 as a result of the EU Packaging Directive. The regulations are designed to make companies assess the amount of packaging they use and, where possible, limit the amount used. For the packaging remaining, companies have a responsibility to invest in the recycling
The amount of recovery and recycling is dependent on the type of activity the company performs on the packaging and the tonnage handled. As the majority of companies are unable to take back their packaging, a system was set up whereby they purchase Packaging Recovery Notes (PRNs) or Packaging Export Recovery Notes (PERNs) to the value of their obligation. The money from these PRNs/PERNs is used by the reprocessors of the packaging to improve the efficiency of their process, to expand their facilities, and assist with the funding of domestic recycling schemes, etc
Prison for waste offences
A Malvern man has been sentenced to a total of 12 months imprisonment for depositing and storing controlled waste - used tyres in this case – and illegally at his workplace and home.
Mark Alexanda Smith, aged 43, pleaded guilty at Worcester Crown Court on 13 January 2010 to 3 charges relating to the illegal deposit and keeping of controlled waste.
The charges were brought by the Environment Agency under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Mr Smith was sentenced to four months imprisonment for each of the three offences to run consecutively.
For the Environment Agency, barrister Kevin Slack told the court that Mr Smith carried out unauthorised deposits and keeping of used tyres at two locations; the first was at Blackmore Park Industrial Estate and the second at The Homestead, Guarlford, both in Malvern.
Mr Smith had been advised by Environment Agency officers in 2003 that a Waste Management Licence was required to continue his business operations legally. However, he failed to obtain such a licence and continued depositing and storing tyres illegally. In November 2005, Mr Smith’s company Mark Smith Tyres Ltd went into liquidation and at this time Mr Smith left Blackmore Park Industrial Estate. He left behind approximately 450,000 waste tyres that continue to be stored at Blackmore Park Industrial Estate.
The liquidation of Mark Smith Tyres Ltd did not stop Mr Smith’s business activities because he continued to trade as a new business, storing approximately 100,000 waste tyres at his home, The Homestead, Malvern. Again, he did not hold a Waste Management Licence permitting him to do this. When Environment Agency officers visited The Homestead in 2007, Mr Smith ignored requests to attend for an interview under caution and failed to comply with notices requiring removal of the tyres from the property.
Speaking after the case Terry Broadbent, the Environment Agency Officer who led the investigation said: “The Environment Agency will not hesitate to take the appropriate sanctions against offenders who operate large scale waste facilities without the appropriate registered permits. As part of the investigation 56 Garages were investigated under the Duty of Care Regulations which resulted in 50,000 tyres being removed from The Homestead by the producers of the waste to a suitable licensed facility at their cost. All producers of controlled
waste should ensure that they only give their waste to registered waste carriers who use Duty of Care waste transfer notes and most importantly ensure that their waste is going to a permitted or exempt facility”.
In mitigation, Counsel for Mr Smith stated that his client had genuinely believed that the tyres did not constitute waste as the tyres had a commercial value to him. It was contended that Mr Smith had exported used tyres for reuse in countries that had less stringent minimum tyre tread depth requirements than the UK. Other tyres were baled with the intention of being sold to the construction industry. As such this was not a case of wilful dumping but a situation where a genuine business was being operated. It was submitted that there was no risk posed to the environment either by chemical leaching from the tyres or from spontaneous combustion and that the tyres were essentially inert. In these circumstances, the harm to the environment was limited to the visual impact caused by the tyres. The Environment Agency had also failed to take enforcement action against Mr Smith in the period from 2003-2007. Mr Smith had been made bankrupt in 2008 and was about to be evicted from his home.
In his sentencing remarks, the judge HHJ Hooper QC stated that by depositing this waste, Mr Smith was guilty of causing “real environmental affront” and that the offences plainly crossed the custody threshold.
Hotel owners fined after sewage effluent pollutes stream
The owners of a Gloucestershire hotel have been ordered to pay £11,460 in fines and costs for discharging poor quality sewage effluent into a nearby watercourse.
Cotswold Inns and Hotels Ltd, of Orchard House, Crab Apple Way, Vale Business Park, Evesham, Worcestershire was fined a total of £10,015 and ordered to pay £1,445 costs after pleading guilty to two offences of contravening a consent to discharge contrary to section 85(6) of the Water Resources Act 1991. The case was heard by Cheltenham magistrates court on March 22. The case was brought by the Environment Agency.
The Hare and Hounds Hotel at Westonbirt near Tetbury has its own sewage plant that is used to treat foul sewage from the hotel and waste water from the kitchens. The treated effluent is then discharged into a tributary of the Tetbury Avon via a surface water drain.
The Environment Agency routinely samples effluent from the site to ensure the plant is operating correctly and is compliant with its discharge consent.
A sample taken in July 2009 contained unacceptable levels of ammonia. Investigations revealed an excessive build-up of fat in the pumping chamber leading into the plant. This was caused by the failure of a piece of equipment called a ‘grease guzzler’ in the hotel’s kitchens.
The hotel manager and maintenance officer were told to ‘deep clean’ the system and carry out regular monitoring and maintenance of the treatment works until the fat blockage problem was solved.
On September 23, 2009 the Environment Agency issued the Hare and Hounds Hotel with a formal warning stating it could face prosecution if it didn’t take prompt action to ensure its sewage treatment works was compliant.
A sample taken in October 2009 also contained unacceptable levels of ammonia and the problem was once again found to be excessive fat being discharged from the kitchens and preventing the sewage treatment plant from working properly.
‘There was a serious problem with non-compliance at this site. The owners failed to take the necessary action and continued to allow poor quality effluent to be discharged even after the Agency had issued them with a formal warning,’ said Laurence Mathew for the Environment Agency.
Permitting decision on Kinderton Lodge landfill
Environment Agency make decision on permit to tip at Kinderton Lodge, Middlewich
Following a consultation and consideration process, the Environment Agency has approved the application by Cory Environmental (Central) Ltd for a permit to dispose of non hazardous waste at Kinderton Lodge Farm, Middlewich.
The Environment Agency has made this decision following consideration of all responses made during the consultation period.
Claire Bunter, Environment Manager for Cheshire said, “The Environment Agency exists to protect people and the environment and we have made this decision based on environmental legislation and expert opinion.
“We received nearly 250 representations from the community on issues like subsidence, surface water, flood impacts and landfill engineering. We have listened to these concerns and considered them in our final decision making.
“I would like to thank the community for their patience while we have been assessing the information. The time taken was necessary to ensure we came to the best decision to ensure that we protect the environment and communities in the future.”
Once a site is operating, the Environment Agency will license the landfill site and make sure its impact on the environment is minimal. This will include making sure that the site only accepts appropriate waste. We inspect landfills regularly to make sure they are operating within the regulations.
The decision document and a copy of the permit are available at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/kindertonlodge. The decision document provides details of all the responses received, and how they have been considered, and where necessary addressed.
Waste company fined for environmental breaches
A waste management company has been fined for the illegal operation of its recycling centre in Newcastle. At Newcastle Magistrates’ Court, NA Park Limited pleaded guilty to six breaches of its environmental permit for premises at Brunswick Industrial Estate in Brunswick Village.
The company was fined £1,000 for each of the six offences and also was ordered to pay full prosecution costs of £2,507.33 and a victim surcharge of £15.
Helen Ferguson, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, said the permit was transferred to NA Park Limited in December 2004 and the company started to operate a waste transfer station at the site, to store, sort and recycle waste.
NA Park’s permit specifies the type of waste which can be brought on site, where it can be stored and sorted, and other rules about how the site is run.
During a routine inspection by the Environment Agency in October 2008, officers saw the perimeter fence was damaged, making the site unsecure, in breach of the operator’s permit. They also observed further breaches, of waste being store outside the specified building, and waste being moved across the forecourt of the site.
Environment officers asked to see the site diary but none had been kept. They also discovered the company director responsible for managing the site had not been attending the premises.
Ms Ferguson said officers were particularly concerned about the installation of a trammel, a machine to mechanically sort waste. This process was not permitted by the permit or under planning permission.
In December 2008 officers returned to the site to meet company directors and discuss the problems. The permit breaches were seen to be continuing and the company was given until the end of the following month to get its affairs in order.
By February 2009 no progress had been made and an inspection revealed vehicle and other batteries on the forecourt, which is hazardous waste and not permitted.
A company director attended interview in April 2009 and accepted the breaches. He was advised that the site use had changed and he said an application for the correct permit would be made by the end of May 2009.
The court heard this did not happen and the breaches continued.
Ms Ferguson said the persistent and continued nature of the offences were an aggravating feature of the case, as was the company’s failure to respond to Environment Agency advice.
In mitigation, the court heard the company had been naïve and had not fully understood what was involved, but now appreciated what needed to be done. The company had begun to remedy what was wrong and was given credit for its early guilty plea.
Illegal waste operator fined for burning caravans
A Barnstaple man has been ordered to pay £700 in fines and costs for demolishing and burning two caravans on land near Bideford in a case brought by the Environment Agency.
On April 2, 2009 Andrew Mitchell was hired by another man to dispose of four small caravans he no longer wanted at Knapp House, Churchill Way, Northam near Bideford. Mitchell was instructed to remove, recycle or break-up the caravans, but told ‘no fires’.
A member of the public later alerted the Environment Agency after seeing black smoke coming from the site. The investigating officer had trouble tracking the defendant down, but eventually caught up with him at a local scrap-yard some months later.
When questioned Mitchell claimed he accidentally set the caravan on fire with a spark from a disc cutter he was using at the time. Within minutes the caravan was well alight and everything was ‘banging and cracking’ he said.
A court heard the defendant continued to illegally transport waste despite being told he must register with the Environment Agency as a waste carrier.
‘Anyone transporting waste for commercial gain must register as a waste carrier. The disposal of items such as caravans by burning is not permitted,’ said Sue Smillie for the Environment Agency.
Appearing before Barnstaple magistrates Andrew Mitchell, of King Edward Street, Barnstaple, was fined £500 and ordered to pay £200 costs after pleading guilty to two offences under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 including illegally disposing of controlled waste in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health and transporting waste when not a registered waste carrier.
Sub Micron Industries fined after chemicals kill aquatic life
Sub Micron Industries Limited of Radcliffe Road, Huddersfield has admitted polluting a stretch of the River Colne near Huddersfield with highly-toxic chemicals, was fined £4,500
The company, which manufactures agricultural insecticides and pesticides, had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to one pollution offence. In addition to the fine, it was ordered to pay full prosecution costs of £3,580.83 and a victim surcharge of £15.
The court heard that aquatic life in up to 6.5km of the River Colne at Slaithwaite was wiped out, after Sub Micron polluted the watercourse with a variety of highly-toxic pesticides in March last year.
Craig Burman, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, said the river is unpolluted and an important local amenity, supporting fish and other aquatic life. Permits exist to allow discharges into the river at levels which do not cause pollution but Sub Micron does not hold such a permit.
Mr Burman said environment officers went to the confluence of the River Colne and Huddersfield
Canal on 20 March 2009 after reports of dead fish in the river. They saw several dead fish at Aspley Basin and up to 100 more in the river further upstream.
On 23 March 2009 environment officers were called to the River Colne at Slaithwaite after reports of discoloured water and dead fish. They saw a milky white discharge entering the river from a surface water drain and took samples.
Mr Burman said the officers traced the surface water drain to the Spa Fields Industrial Estate. Results of tests on the discharge samples led them to check Sub Micron’s premises on the estate, where they saw a washing machine, and discovered that this was discharging into the surface water drain which had polluted the river.
Environment officers were told that the washing machine was used to clean workers’ overalls, and cloths and material used to mop up spillages. Staff were unaware that the washings were being discharged into the river.
The court heard the samples taken from the River Colne on 23 March 2009 contained pesticides and chemicals which are highly toxic to aquatic life, including permethrin and deltamethrin.
Mr Burman told the court only a very small amount of either could kill large numbers of fish over a wide area. The concentration of permethrin in the sample was 13 million times higher than the maximum level advised under Environmental Quality Standards, and the concentration of deltamethrin four million times higher.
An ecological survey on 23 and 24 March 2009 showed a severe impact on invertebrates downstream of the drain, with no invertebrates for 6.5 kilometres. Officers also saw dead fish.
A further survey on 23 April 2009 found small numbers of invertebrates downstream of the drain but hardly any fish in the same stretch of river.
Mr Burman said the pollution caused significant environmental damage and loss of amenity, to local anglers and others. He said the company’s failure to make adequate arrangements to safely dispose of highly-toxic chemicals was an aggravating feature of the case.
The bench gave Sub Micron maximum credit for an early guilty plea and acknowledged it had no previous convictions for environmental offences.
In mitigation, the court heard that Sub Micron had fully co-operated with the Environment Agency during its investigation and the company had immediately made arrangements to take away the contaminated washings once the matter was brought to its attention.
Sub Micron managing director Joseph Forrest told the court that it was a surprise to him that the surface water drains for the Spa Fields Industrial Estate were linked to the River Colne and the company has since moved premises.
Business park owner fined £10,000
Bristol businessman, Alan Dykes, has been ordered to pay more than £12,200 in fines and costs for allowing a tenant at one of his commercial premises to operate an illegal waste business from the site
The court heard that Dykes, who has a number of business premises in Bristol, entered into an agreement with a Gregory Moreton who, in lieu of rent, was allowed to occupy a small compound at the Moravian Road Business Park in return for clearing the site of fly tipped waste.
Moreton started bringing more waste to the site and ran an illegal waste operation. He was storing and handling mainly fridges and freezers and when he had sufficient numbers, took them to a scrapyard for resale. Packaging materials including plastics, cardboard and polystyrene were being burnt at the site by Moreton.
On September 12, 2008 the Environment Agency sent Alan Dykes a warning letter saying he could be prosecuted if the illegal waste activities at the site continued. No response was received. The Agency visited the site again and saw more waste had been brought to the business park.
On October 24, 2008 an enforcement notice was sent to Moreton requiring him to remove the waste and a letter sent to Dykes reminding him that as site owner he was responsible for the removal of fly-tipped wastes. Moreton failed to comply with the notice.
On November 3, 2008 officers returned and saw that more waste had been brought to the site. The gates had been left open and unsecured.
‘Landlords have a responsibility to make sure their land is not being used for unlawful activity. At no point did the defendant terminate Gregory Moreton’s occupation of the site despite the fact he knew he was running an illegal business. These offences continued over a prolonged period of time with Dykes ignoring any advice we gave him and failing to take effective action to prevent his site being used for illegal waste activity,’ said Pete Hart for the Environment Agency.
Appearing before Bristol magistrates, Alan Dykes of The Bungalow, Durley Lane, Keynsham was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £2,199 costs after pleading guilty to, between September 2008 and April 2009, knowingly permitting the deposit, storage, processing and disposal of scrap kitchen appliances and packaging waste at the Moravian Road Business Park, Bristol contrary to the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2007.
The case was heard on March 1, 2010. At an earlier hearing Gregory Moreton received a four week prison sentence suspended for 18 months and was ordered to pay £1,000 costs
Major fish kill on Devon river
A Tiverton company, Broadoak Toiletries Limited which makes toiletries and beauty products was ordered to pay £12,196 in fines and costs after a chemical escaped from its premises
into the River Lowman and killed around 1,000 fish including trout and salmon
On August 20, 2009 a tanker lorry arrived at Broadoak Toiletries’ premises in Tiverton Way to deliver a detergent, Sodium Lauryl Ethoxy Sulphate, used in the manufacture of toiletries. The detergent was stored in a 30,000 litre tank.
A company employee watched as the tanker driver pumped detergent into the tank. As it reached its maximum capacity the employee shouted to the driver to stop. Unfortunately, the driver failed to hear this instruction and continued pumping resulting in a spill.
Broadoak Toiletries implemented its ‘spill containment procedure’ and recovered as much of the escaped detergent as it could by washing down the storage area and pumping detergent and wash water into drums. The next day (Aug 21) heavy rain flushed the remaining detergent from the site and into the River Lowman via surface water drains and an interceptor tank.
Later that day the Environment Agency received reports of a ‘chemical smell’ in the River Lowman and dead and dying fish. Agency officers arrived at the river and found hundreds of dead fish including salmon, trout, bullheads and minnows.
Sodium Lauryl Ethoxy Sulphate kills fish by damaging their gills causing them to suffocate.
‘This was a serious pollution incident that resulted in the loss of at least 1,000 fish including 281 salmon and trout. Salmon numbers on the River Lowman are already low, so a fish kill on this scale is a cause for serious concern. Companies must be especially careful when taking delivery of potentially harmful chemicals,’ said Catherine Lockwood for the Environment Agency.
Ed- Broadoak Toiletries Limited of Tiverton Way, Tiverton were today fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £4,196 costs after pleading guilty to an offence under the Sectinn 85 (1) of the Water Resources Act of causing noxious or polluting matter to enter controlled waters on August 21, 2009.
South West Water fined for polluting a stream with sewage
South West Water has been ordered to pay £7,299 in fines and costs after a sewage treatment works in North Cornwall polluted a tributary of the River Ottery
On October 31, 2008 Agency officers were inspecting the Wainhouse Corner Sewage Treatment Works near Crackington Haven when they discovered a number of faults. Sewage effluent was escaping from a damaged pipe into a nearby field and then into a stream.
The officers also saw evidence of sewage debris in the filter beds, a tipping bucket incorrectly positioned and the absence of splash plates from the ends of the filter bed spray bars. Sewage fungus was visible in the stream for a distance of 150 metres – a sign of pollution.
On December 23, 2008 officers carried out a re-inspection of the site and saw that most of the earlier faults had been corrected. However, during a follow-up visit a month later they
discovered a new set of problems.
Most serious was a blockage in the treatment works’ main inlet that had become clogged with paper and faeces after heavy rain. This resulted in all incoming raw sewage bypassing the full treatment process and discharging via a storm pipe into the stream. The officers also saw that a sack in the storm chamber, used to filter out large solids, was full and overflowing with sewage and sanitary waste.
The court heard the treatment works serves a small, rural community of approximately 80 people around Wainhouse Corner.
‘Water companies must ensure sewage treatment works’ under their control operate effectively and do not pose a risk to the environment. The pollution from this site was avoidable and was caused by inadequate inspections and maintenance by the water company,’ said John Cossens for the Environment Agency.
Ed- South West Water, of Peninsula House, Rydon Lane, Exeter was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £2,284 costs by East Cornwall Magistrates sitting in Bodmin after pleading guilty to causing noxious or polluting matter to enter controlled waters, a tributary of the River Ottery, contrary to Section 85(1) of the Water Resources Act 1991. The company was also ordered to pay a £15.00 victim surcharge. The case was heard on March 9, 2010.
Fine for face cream pond pollution
A cosmetics manufacturer McCallum Manufacturing Limited who emptied face cream residue into a South Yorkshire drain has been fined £15,000.
The company pleaded guilty to one offence of causing polluting matter to enter controlled waters, namely an unnamed pond and tributary of the River Dearne.
The court heard the contamination - by the washings from the vessel used for mixing face creams – was 10 times more concentrated than pollution by raw sewage.
Satpal Roth, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, said environment officers attended Redbrook Business Park on 29 October 2008 after receiving reports that chemicals were being disposed of into surface water drains.
They saw bulk containers outside McCallum Manufacturing’s premises, including plastic 45-gallon drums, one of which was over a surface drain.
Ms Roth told the court this drain discharged into a nearby pond, where the water was a milky-grey colour and smelled of sulphur. The court heard that the pond is a tributary of the River Dearne.
In mitigation, the court heard that McCallum Manufacturing co-operated with the Environment Agency investigation and the company had no previous convictions for environmental offences.
Fishing Vessel Collides with Dinghy
On Saturday 12th September, Jake Gilbert took his father’s fishing vessel, the ‘Tizzardlee On’ out of Newquay harbour, with a number of friends on board. At the same time, a father and his 8 year old son were returning to shore in a small dinghy, after mooring their vessel in deeper water.
When the dinghy was approximately 100 yards from the harbour entrance, it was hit amidships by the ‘Tizzardlee On’. Both father and son were thrown from the dinghy, and both suffered injuries as a result. They were subsequently rescued from the water by those aboard the ‘Tizzardlee On’.
Mr Gilbert was given a 9 month referral order. Mr Gilbert’s parents were ordered to pay £200 compensation to each of the dinghy occupants and £500 contribution to prosecution costs.
Revamped Safety Bulletins
The HSE has revamped its Safety Bulletin system which warns industry of problems with equipment, process, procedures and substances that may lead to injury. Bulletins are now available automatically via email, text message or RSS feed, as well as on the HSE’s website.
HSE is now calling on industry to commit to sharing such information more effectively when sending out their own alerts.
HSE Chair, Judith Hackitt said:
“With this new and updated way of issuing safety alerts, we are initiating a better, joined up approach to sharing information that will help towards reducing death and injury at work. HSE is keen to move with the times and take advantage of new ways of communicating.
“We are encouraged by the positive response we have already seen from a number of sectors, but we need to get all areas involved to maximise the benefits of this approach. I am confident that British industry will rise to the challenge of protecting workers through this new system.”
Ed: - If you would like further information on Safety Bulletins, visit www.hse.gov.uk/safetybulletins
The HSE Safety Bulletins are released to keep industry up to date with failures in equipment,
process, procedures and substances used in the workplace, and are gathered from investigations, inspections, research, advice from industry and the EU Commission.
They are released when:
HSE needs to reach a wide range of dutyholderso
There is a new threat to health and safetyo
A serious risk is not properly controlled by a number of dutyholders, or o
Protection against a major hazard incident has been found to be ineffectiveo
There are three types of bulletin:
Alert - immediate and crucialo
Notice - not immediate but within a defined timescaleo
Other information - any other information that HSE comes across through its o normal activities that needs to be passed on either to a wide audience, or to a specific group or sector of industry
Prestigious award for HSE employee
Rhaynukaa Soni of the HSE has been named Female Professional of the Year, at the Political and Public Life Asian Voice Awards Ceremony.
Rhaynukaa was presented with the prestigious award by Britain’s main Asian newspaper, Asian Voice for her work with HSE’s Construction Division’s London outreach project.
The outreach project was set up by HSE after research proved that migrant construction workers were particularly vulnerable to health and safety risks due to language barriers and different perceptions of risk.
The award reflects the impact that the outreach project is having on the Asian community and Rhaynukaa’s central personal role in driving the messages through.
Rhaynukaa joined HSE in May 2009 and her key role in the outreach project is targeting construction workers with an Indian background to raise awareness of health and safety, and inform them of their basic rights as well as their employers’ safety responsibilities.
Rhaynukaa said “I’m thrilled to receive this award. The work that the outreach team is doing is so important in ensuring the health and safety of migrant workers.
“The workers we visit often have no knowledge of HSE or of their basic rights. We want to
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make sure that they know who we are and how we can help and protect them using existing law and make them aware that they have just as many rights to a healthy and safe working environment as indigenous workers.”
Philip White, HSE’s Chief Inspector of Construction said: “This is a real triumph for Rhaynukaa and for HSE. The work that Rhaynukaa and the outreach team are doing is really making a difference to health and safety in the construction sector.
“The outreach team was set up as to help us target health and safety information at some of the more vulnerable workers in construction and allow us to get our messages across much more effectively. Reducing the risks faced by the most vulnerable enables all construction workers to work in safer conditions and we hope will minimise potentially dangerous incidents on site.”
Ed Research indicates that there has been a large influx of migrant workers onto construction sites in London in recent years and despite only 8% of the national construction workforce being migrant workers, 40% of London’s construction workforce is from overseas. About 60% of the migrant construction workforce is based in London.
Indian migrant construction workers account for 8% of the total number of migrant construction workers in the UK.
The London outreach project is also targeting construction workers from Poland and Romania.
The HSE’s copyright in ths cartoon and its caption is acknowledged as is their license to reproduce it.
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HSE myth of the month
Myth: Risk assessment is too complicated for me to do!
Reality: Carrying out a risk assessment should be straightforward. It’s about focusing on real risks and hazards that cause real harm and, more importantly, taking action to control them.