Drug mix-up kills nurse hours after giving birth
Great Western Hospitals NHS Trust has been prosecuted by the HSE after 30-year-old Mayra Cabrera died at the Marlborough Road hospital in Swindon on 11 May 2004.
Mrs Cabrera, who was also a nurse at the hospital, was given an epidural drug in her arm instead of a saline solution. She died an hour later following medical complications caused by the drug mix-up.
Investigations by the HSE and Wiltshire Police showed that the two drugs were stored in the same racking system, despite having almost identical packaging.
Bristol Crown Court fined Great Western Hospitals NHS Trust £75,000 after they admitted breaching s3(1) HSWA by putting the safety of patients, including Mrs Cabrera at risk due to the unacceptable storage of drugs and the administration of drugs. The Trust was also ordered to pay costs of £25,000.
Mayra Cabrera was a nurse at Great Western Hospital. She had just given birth to her first child, a boy, when she was wrongly given a rarely-used local anaesthetic, bupivacaine. She had been prescribed a saline solution to help raise her blood pressure, but instead the bupivacaine was selected due to a mix-up.
The consequent Police and HSE investigations showed that there was no proper management system for the storage of the drugs, and warnings from earlier incidents had not been properly actioned.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector, Liam Osborne, said:
“This was an absolutely heartbreaking case to investigate. Mayra Cabrera needlessly died as a result of comprehensive management failings at board, pharmacy and ward level. Had the hospital done something as simple as keeping these completely different but almost identical-looking drugs in separate cupboards, then Mrs Cabrera would not have died.
“It is really important that risks are properly assessed and safe systems put in place that minimise the chance of human error.
“The organisational failure to assess the risks and provide a safe system for the storage of these products placed any patient in the Maternity Unit at risk, from when the Great Western Hospital opened in December 2002, until the drugs were removed after Mrs Cabrera died in 2004.
“The trust failed in its duty of care to Mrs Cabrera, and the fact that she used to work for the
hospital that ultimately ended her life makes this all the more tragic.”
Mrs Cabrera’s widower, Arnel Cabrera, said:
“It has now been six years since my wife, Mayra died and two years since the Inquest into her death was concluded and I would like to thank the HSE for bringing this prosecution and I am pleased with its outcome.
“It reinforces the importance of the health and safety of patients attending hospital and in particular the safe storage of dangerous drugs. Now this case has been concluded I am hoping that my young son and I can have some closure and put this terrible tragedy behind us.”
Driver killed at landfill site
SITA UK Limited, a waste management and recycling company, has been prosecuted by the HSE following the death of Gary Carter, 32, at the Cranford landfill site on 4 January 2007.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) HSWA and was fined £210,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £38,000.
Northampton Crown Court heard that Mr Carter, arrived at the site to empty his refuse lorry and, like all the lorries emptying at the site that day, had to be assisted onto and off the tipping area due to the wet weather and soft ground conditions on the site.
After his lorry was towed to the tipping area by a bulldozer, Mr Carter discharged only part of his load. To shed the rest he had to move forward but his lorry had become too bogged down in soft ground.
The driver of the compactor, which was spreading the rubbish behind his lorry, radioed to him to say he would drive up behind Mr Carter’s lorry and push it forward with his own vehicle.
At the same time the bulldozer reversed up to the front of Mr Carter’s lorry to give him a tow. Both tried to help Mr Carter move, but without communicating with each other. When the compactor started to push the lorry forward, Mr Carter was attaching a tow rope from the bulldozer to the front of his lorry and was crushed to death between his lorry and back of the bulldozer.
He died at the scene.
The court heard from the prosecution that new working arrangements had been introduced a few days before the accident without having been properly risk assessed. Further, that SITA had not defined the supervisory roles for their staff on the site and that site rules on pushing lorries were ambiguous.
HSE Inspector Roy Bush said: “Every company has a legal responsibility to take care of people working on their site, whether they are employed by them or not.
“All companies are required to assess risks, eliminate them where possible and provide proper control measures to deal with the risks that remain. Having clear site rules that deal
with the significant risks on site and making sure staff understand them and stick to them is absolutely vital if people on sites like this are to be protected from serious injury and even death.
“Sadly, in this case, the prosecution shows that the company did not take these steps, with tragic consequences for Mr Carter and his family.”
Crushed to death
The HSE has prosecuted a Leeds freight company Roadways Container Logistics Limited after a man was crushed to death unloading a case of glass from a cargo container.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) HSWA at Leeds Crown Court, in relation to the incident. The company was fined £250,000 and ordered to pay £100,000 costs.
The court heard that on 6 April 2006 admin manager Alan Fletcher, from Leeds, along with two cargo handlers and a supervisor, had been present as cases of glass were being unloaded from an open top freight container at Roadway’s container base in Stourton.
Mr Fletcher was crushed when he tried to stop the final case, weighing approximately two tonnes, from falling as it was being lifted from the container.
The court also heard that neither 59-year old Mr Fletcher, nor his colleagues, had received the appropriate training in lifting operations. There had also been no risk assessment or formal planning carried out prior to the incident and the case had not been properly secured.
Following the hearing, HSE Inspector Morag Irwin said:
“Today’s hearing highlights the importance of having an effective system in place for managing health and safety generally and specifically when lifting heavy goods, and I hope it serves as a warning to other companies.
“In this case, the measures in place were grossly inadequate; there was a failure to carry out a risk assessment or formal planning, as well as a lack of training, all of which resulted in the tragic and unnecessary death of an employee that so easily could have been avoided.
“HSE has produced a lot of guidance on this matter, which can be downloaded from our website, and I would urge other companies not to take any chances when it comes to carrying out lifting operations.”
Contractor fined after worker crushed by wall
A contractor has been fined £7,000 for breaching health and safety law after a builder broke his back and ribs when a wall fell on him at a construction site in Forest Gate.
Jason Lunnon, 41, from Barnet was seriously injured when he was struck by the falling concrete blocks on the site in Field Road, Newham.
The HSE prosecuted the principal contractor, Keith Gardner, trading as K P Gardner Builders,
for failing to ensure Mr Lunnon’s safety on the site. He was also ordered to pay costs of £6,969.50. On 26 March 2009, Mr Lunnon was working on the first floor of a partially-constructed block of flats.
A wall, built on the third floor the previous day, had not been properly secured and a gust of wind blew it over, sending concrete blocks more than 7m below on top of Mr Lunnon. Mr Lunnon fractured seven ribs, broke his back in four places, fractured his right hand and also suffered serious damage to his internal organs.
The investigation showed that Keith Gardner had failed to properly plan, manage and monitor work at the site.
Keith Gardner of Cairns Avenue, Woodford Green, Waltham Forest pleaded guilty to breaching s3(2) HSWA at the City of London Magistrates’ Court.
HSE Inspector Paul Hems said: “Despite his terrible injuries, Mr Lunnon is lucky to be alive. This could have so easily been a much more serious incident.
“As the builder in charge of the project, Mr Gardner was responsible for ensuring the health and safety of everyone working at the site. This included ensuring the stability of walls during construction.
“Mr Gardner was made aware of the wind affecting the newly -built walls, but failed to take appropriate action to ensure their stability.
“The HSE investigation also found other safety failings at the site, including failure to properly manage risks of falling. There was a comprehensive failure to implement key elements of the construction phase plan.”
Landlord jailed; tenant suffered horrific burns
A landlord has been jailed for 2 ½ years after a fire in one of his properties left a teenage tenant so badly burnt she was given less than 1% chance of survival. Only pioneering skin grafting techniques saved Layla Skalli’s life after she suffered 80 per cent deep tissue burns all over her body following the blaze at her Norwich flat.
Virtually all the skin below her neck was destroyed by the intense 600 degree heat as the property above a mobile phone shop became a raging inferno last year with tenants in three adjoining properties lucky to escape the blaze.
Fire crews rescued a woman living in a second floor apartment above Miss Skalli’s flat as she prepared to jump for her life. Other tenants climbed down a drain pipe to escape.
Landlord Michael Billings appeared at Norwich Crown Court to admit charges brought by both the HSE and Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service.
The court heard Billings failed to provide even the most basic protection for his tenants, such as fitting a working fire alarm system, installing the correct number of fire doors or even providing adequate means of escape. The gas appliances in the flats above the shop
had not been serviced or properly inspected.
Judge Paul Downes sentenced Mr Billings, of Ashman’s Hall, Barsham, Beccles, Suffolk, to two-and-a-half year’s imprisonment and ordered him to pay £20,000 in costs. Judge Downes said he would review the sentence if Mr Billings pays Miss Skalli £20,000 as a show of remorse. The judge also ordered a £400 award be paid out of the public purse to Dominic Gale, a passer-by who raised the alarm after spotting the fire.
Miss Skalli, now aged 20, was living in a flat above shops in Magdalen Street, Norwich, when fire broke out in the early hours of 14 April 2009. The court heard that temperatures in the flat quickly soared and her screams could be heard by distressed neighbours.
The terrified teenager was unable to escape because her sash window could only be opened by four inches and the staircase was blocked by thick black smoke.
Firefighters used their ladder as a battering ram to smash the window and climb inside where they found Miss Skalli lying unconscious on the floor with her hands covering her face, the only part of her not burnt by the intense heat.
The firefighter who carried Miss Skalli down the ladder described her body as being so hot his arms were beginning to burn through his tunic.
Police and fire service investigators were called to the scene and Miss Skalli’s injuries were so severe it seemed unlikely she would survive.
It was treated as a potential manslaughter case and the multi-agency investigation involved Norfolk Police, HSE, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service and Norwich City Council. The cause of the blaze has never been conclusively found.
After sentencing Layla’s brother, Andrew Skalli, said:
“The actions of Michael Billings have ruined my sister’s life. We want to remind every landlord that they have a legal and moral obligation to the safety of their tenants, something Billings gave no thought to hence why he has been sentenced today.
“But no amount of time in prison could make up for the pain he has caused my sister and my family. Despite this we remain grateful to the people who made this prosecution possible and hope it helps save other lives.”
HSE Inspector John Claxton said:
“This is the most distressing case I have worked on during my 31 years as a HSE inspector. The injuries and pain suffered by Miss Skalli were horrific. It is testament to her huge character, spirit and determination that she is still alive today.
“Michael Billings failed in his basic duties as a landlord and those failures nearly cost the life of a young woman. As it is, Layla Skalli has been left with both physical and emotional scars that will never completely heal.
“When fire broke out there was very little Layla could do, either to fight the fire or escape its flames. This was as a direct result of Michael Billings’ failure to act as a responsible landlord.
“Landlords have duties under law to maintain their properties and ensure they are safe places for their tenants to live. Michael Billings ignored these duties.”
Michael Billings was charged by the HSE with four counts of breaching s3(2) HSWA and one count of breaching Regulation 36(3)(a) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. The first four counts related to his four properties affected by the fire.
He was charged by Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service with nine counts of breaching Article 32(1)(a) of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Orders 2005.
Ed - Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every self-employed person to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that he and other persons (not being his employees) who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health and safety.”
Regulation 36(3)(a) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 states: “A landlord shall ensure that each appliance and flue... is checked for safety within 12 months of being installed and at intervals of not more than 12 months since it was last checked for safety.”
Article 32(1)(a) of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Orders 2005 states: “It is an offence for any reasonable person... to fail to comply with any requirement or prohibition imposed by regulations made, or having effect as if made... where that failure places one or more relevant persons at risk of death or serious injury in case of fire.”
Firms fined after worker fractures vertebrae in 7m
A construction firm and building owner have been fined after a builder suffered fractured vertebrae when he fell from a factory roof in Hertfordshire.
Danny Langdon injured his spine in the 7m fall on Christmas Eve 2008 and has been off work since.
Mr Langdon fell through a factory roof light, hit a gantry crane and landed on machinery below.
His employer, Hartog Hutton Ltd, appeared at St Albans Crown Court and admitted breaching three health and safety offences. The company was fined a total of £10,000 and ordered to pay £7,076 in costs.
Fluorocarbon Company Ltd, of Caxton Hill, Hertford, which had contracted Hartog Hutton to carry out the repairs to its factory roof, appeared at East Hertfordshire Magistrates’ Court in Hertford on 26 April 2010 and admitted one charge. It was fined £5,000 with £5,195 in costs.
HSE Inspector John Berezansky said:
“This incident was entirely avoidable and should not have happened. Working at height is one of the most obvious and well-known dangers for those involved in repairing or maintenance of buildings.
“Mr Langdon is lucky to be alive.”
Hartog Hutton Ltd admitted the following charges:
Breaching Regulation 3(1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regula• tions 1999 by failing to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks of working on a roof.
Breaching Regulation 9(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 by failing to take rea• sonably practicable steps to prevent a person working near or on a fragile roof.
Breaching Regulation 4(1)(c)(i) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations • 2007 by failing to ensure that employees working on a roof were competent to do so.
Fluorocarbon Company Ltd admitted one charge:
Breaching Regulation 4(1)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations • 2007 by failing to take reasonable steps to ensure that the contractor engaged to undertake the work was competent to do so.
Companies and director fined after worker is paralysed
Two companies and a managing director have been fined a total of £170,000 after a 23-year old worker from Kettering fell more than 9m leaving him paralysed from the chest down.
SDI Group UK Ltd of Main Street, Hardwick, Cambridge, Steel Construction Ltd of Bodmin Road, Coventry, and Richard Mark Berwick, the managing director of RM Berwick Steel Erection Services Ltd of Fairfield Road, Isham, Northamptonshire were all prosecuted after the incident on 8 February 2007 in Glossop, Derbyshire.
SDI Group UK Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) HSWA at Lincoln Crown Court were fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £20,000. Steel Construction Ltd pleaded guilty to the same offence and were fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £22,000 costs.
Richard Mark Berwick pleaded guilty to breaching s37 HSWA. He was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,000. He was also disqualified as a director for four years.
The court heard that Wayne Simpson, now 26, from Kettering, Northamptonshire, was working at a construction site off Waterside, Hadfield in Glossop on the day of the incident. He was installing a new racking system when he fell more than 9m to the concrete floor below.
The incident has left Mr Simpson paralysed from the chest down and he is likely to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Almost three years on, he relies on family and friends for assistance. He has not been able to return to work.
Following the hearing, HSE inspector Kevin Wilson said:
“It is unacceptable that a young man should suffer such life-changing injuries while just trying to do his job. Mr Simpson has been left with a long-term debilitating condition because the two companies and Richard Berwick failed to ensure his health and safety.
“Employers must understand the importance of protecting their workforce. Mr Simpson should have been provided with an appropriate safe system of work to protect against falls. This could have included personal fall protection, such as a harness and work restraint lanyard fitted to a running line, and properly fitted safety nets.
“Companies should adequately plan for working at height and ensure fall protection and mitigation measures are in place so incidents like this do not happen.”
Worker suffers serious back injuries in fall
The HSE has prosecuted Illson (Builders & Contractors) Ltd, of North Parade, Burley in Wharfedale, for a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. This followed an incident, at their Corn Mill premises in Burley on 19 November 2008 when Graham Parkin fell from height as there were no guard rails protecting him . The company was acting as principal contractor on the construction site.
Illson also pleaded guilty to a charge under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 for failing to notify HSE that construction work was due to take place on site.
Kendal Varley Ltd, Mr Parkin’s employer, also pleaded guilty to the same CDM Regs charge.
Bradford Magistrates Court heard that because both companies were the clients for the work, they should have appointed a Construction Design and Management co-ordinator (CDMc) to notify HSE of the construction work. Their failure to do so led to the responsibility for non-notification reverting to them.
Illson (Builders & Contractors) Ltd was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,800 for both offences while Kendall Varley Ltd was given a fine of £2,000 and costs of £1,800 for the one offence.
After the hearing HSE Inspector David Welsh commented:
“If HSE had been correctly notified that work on the Corn Mill was going to take place, it could have inspected the site and the injury may have been averted. The measures in place at the time - the responsibility of Illson (Builders & Contractors) Ltd - simply did not amount to a safe system of work, and as a result Graham Parkin sustained a serious, long-term, fall from height injury.”
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.’
Regulation 21(1), by virtue of regulation 14(4)(b) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 states: ‘The CDM co-ordinator [or client if CDMc not appointed] shall as soon as is practicable after his appointment ensure that notice is given to the Executive containing such of the particulars specified in Schedule 1 as are available.’
Teen’s leg crushed by steel
The HSE has prosecuted Dranson Ltd after a 17-year-old worker was left pinned to the floor in agony after approximately 700 kg of steel fell off a trolley he was pushing. He needed several pins and metal plates in his leg and his recovery has been delayed due to complications with the broken and shattered bones.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) HSWA. As well as the fine of £8,000, it was also ordered to pay £3,603 costs.
Wolverhampton Magistrates heard how on 4 November 2009 at the firm’s site in Bushbury in the city, the injured man was helping two other people to push a trolley loaded with lengths of steel into the warehouse. As it was being pushed over a ramp, the trolley wheel became wedged in its lip and toppled to one side, falling onto him, pinning him to the ground and breaking his right leg in several places.
The HSE investigations at the site found the condition of the floor had not been maintained and the trolley being used was not intended for outdoor use.
The court heard that Dranson had bought the business less than four years ago and had left unsafe practices in place which included transporting lengths of steel in this way.
HSE inspector Amarjit Kalay said:
“This was this young man’s first job after leaving school and he suffered a nasty injury caused by a poorly-maintained work environment and unsuitable work equipment. Although it had been used in this role for a while, the trolley was really unsuited to this type of work and it was only a matter of time before something like this occurred.
“It is vital that when moving heavy items like this that the proper equipment and precautions are taken. Just because something has always been done in a certain way without incident, doesn’t mean that it is the proper way of doing it nor that it should continue in that way.”
MDF boards fall injures worker
An Essex-based shop fitting and joinery company, Corvale Limited, has been fined £2,667 and required to pay costs of £2,460.80, after an employee’s legs were crushed.
Mr Barrington, 60, a joiner from Chingford had been working for Corvale for seven weeks. He was helping a colleague retrieve a large piece of MDF from the middle of a vertical storage stack by supporting several boards when he collapsed under the stack’s weight.
The boards crushed him against a machine, with his knees taking the full impact. The incident caused ligament damage to both of Mr Barrington’s knees, requiring surgery plus
ongoing treatment and he has not been able to work since.
Upon investigation, HSE found that Corvale Ltd had breached health and safety at work regulations by failing to provide a safe system of work for the storage and management of MDF and other sheets of wood.
HSE Inspector Vicky Fletcher said:
“Workers should never have to put themselves at risk in order to carry out routine tasks as part of their work. This incident illustrates what can happen when employers fail to provide a safe working environment for their staff.
“In this case the boards tipped out of control because they were not being stored in a fixed racking system. Even though Corvale responded immediately, the incident would not have happened had they considered the risk earlier and taken action.”
The company admitted breaching s2(1) HSWA.
Worker’s fingers chopped off
Roydon Granulation Ltd, a plastics recycling business in St Helens has been fined £15,000 after a worker had parts of two fingers cut off by blades on a high-speed fan.
The employee, who has asked not to be named, suffered serious injuries to four fingers on his left hand including the partial amputation of two.
He was injured while trying to repair a drying unit. 
The blades which injured the worker
St Helens Magistrates’ Court heard that the employee’s fingers had come into contact with the high-speed fan, which rotates 1,450 times a minute, whilst he was trying to fix a problem. The HSE investigation concluded that the company’s procedure for repairing the machine was inadequate.
HSE inspector Richard Clarke said: “One of the factory’s employees suffered serious injuries because basic health and safety procedures were not followed. He has still not returned to work more than a year on from the incident.
“By law, the preferred solution would have been for the workers to switch off and lock off
the power supply to the fan with padlocks. If this was not possible, then temporary guards should have been put in place. These or other equally effective measures were not taken.
“Sadly incidents like this are all too common. Factories must treat the safety of their workers as a top priority to prevent serious injuries or even deaths in the future.”
Roydon Granulation pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) HSWA. The company was ordered to pay £4,347 towards the cost of the prosecution in addition to the fine at St Helens Magistrates’ Court on 25 May.
Council prosecuted after dumper truck overturned
Bridgend County Borough Council has been fined for an incident that saw a driver injured after his dumper truck overturned.
Council employee Mark Morgan was driving the one tonne vehicle through woodland near Moel Gilau Lane, Bettws on 25 September 2008 when the truck began to slide.
It then toppled over - trapping the driver’s left leg between the vehicle and a tree. He needed to be airlifted to hospital for an operation on his broken leg.
The HSE investigation showed the vehicle was not suitable for the gradient where it was being used. The council also failed to carry out a formal, written risk assessment of the work or the selection of plant being used. The investigation also found there was no evidence that staff were adequately trained in the use of small items of plant equipment such as the dumper truck in this incident.
The Council pleaded guilty to a breach of s2(1) HSWA at Bridgend Magistrates’ Court. They were fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,623.60.
After the hearing HSE Inspector Ceri Beynon said: “Risks associated with improper use should never be underestimated and this incident could easily have been prevented.
“Employers have a duty of care to ensure that drivers are suitably trained, risks are properly assessed, and that adequate safety measures are in place.
“Those involved in the planning and execution of work involving the use of plant or equipment need to ensure they are fully aware of the safety limitations of use.”
Calor Gas fined over LPG release
Calor Gas Ltd has been fined £27,500, after a major gas leak led to a cloud of highly flammable Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) formed above its terminal in Essex.
The firm admitted breaching health and safety regulations at the major hazard site when release of up 163 tonnes of LPG leaked into the atmosphere at the Calor Gas terminal on Canvey Island.
Calor Gas Ltd was sentenced at Basildon Crown Court and was also ordered to pay £27,185 costs.
The leak happened while a ship was unloading gas to the site early on 27 October 2008. The gas, which is stored in a liquid form, escaped from a pipe when an over-pressure safety device operated. The liquid evaporated on contact with the ground, forming a vapour cloud above the site.
LPG quickly forms an extremely flammable and explosive vapour when released into the atmosphere. In its vapour form, LPG can have a volume of up to 250 times that of its liquid form and can cause asphyxiation. If ignited, it can result in a serious explosion and fire.
Due to the large quantities of LPG stored at the site, the site is subject to the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999.
A sensor, which is designed to detect leaks of LPG, raise the alarm and shut the emergency valves, failed to operate - allowing the release to continue unchecked.
Even when an employee eventually discovered the leak, no site emergency alarms were sounded. The company also failed to report the incident to HSE forthwith.
The HSE’s investigation into the incident found that Calor Gas Ltd had failed to provide effective measures to prevent the leak, and had failed to respond properly to the emergency when the incident occurred - including reporting to the HSE in good time.
HSE Inspector John Hawkins said:
“This site is specifically designated as a major hazard site, and that means that the correct management of risk is absolutely essential.
The leak could have been minimised had the sensor operated as intended. It was fortunate that the incident did not escalate further, since no emergency alarm sounded.
This case illustrates how important it is for companies to maintain effective measures to control risks from LPG. It is vital that LPG sensors are effectively maintained and in working order, and that there is an appropriate emergency response in place at all times.”
Calor Gas Ltd admitted breaching Regulation 4 of Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations 1999 and Regulation 3(1) (e) Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995.
Development company fined for asbestos breach
A development company, Savoir Developments Ltd of Colchester, has been fined a total of £15,000 at Bournemouth Crown Court for exposing employees and members of the public to the danger of asbestos containing material while carrying out work at a property in Poole.
The company pleaded guilty at earlier hearing to breaching Regulation 5 and Regulation 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and were fined £7,500 for each offence.
The company failed to carry out a sufficient assessment as to whether asbestos might be present which potentially exposed employees and also failed to reduce the spread of asbestos
on site. Savoir Developments Ltd was also ordered to pay costs of £10,461.
The incident happened at 24 Market Street, Poole in March 2008 as the building was being converted into three residential properties. Following concern raised by neighbours about dust from the work, a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector visited the site.
Lincoln College fined after window cleaner falls from roof
Lincoln College has been fined £1,500 after a window cleaner fell 4m - suffering broken ribs and a serious back injury.
James Theaker, 50, from Lincoln, was employed by A Nicoll & Son Ltd, when he was contracted to clean windows at Lincoln College, Monks Road in the city on 4 November 2008. Mr Theaker accessed the roof of the main reception building using a ladder and leaned against the building to clean nearby windows, when he fell.
He spent a week in hospital and was forced to stay off work for months. Even now he can only carry out restricted duties.
Lincoln College pleaded guilty to breaching reg 3(1) MHSWR 1999 at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court for failing to conduct a sufficient risk assessment. As well as the fine, the college was also ordered to pay £9,500 towards prosecution costs.
A Nicoll & Son Ltd, of Crofton Drive, Allenby Road Industrial Estate was prosecuted in October 2009 by HSE after pleading guilty for its role in the incident and was fined £2,500 and ordered to pay costs of £2,948.20.
Following the hearing, HSE Inspector Judith McNulty-Green said:
“Mr Theaker has suffered life-changing injuries as a result of his fall. Lincoln College had a legal duty to check its contractors had proper procedures in place but failed to do so.
“Every month more than a thousand people suffer serious injuries as a result of slips, trips and falls in the workplace. These shattering injuries can be avoided by sensible and proportionate assessment of the risks, but sadly that was not done in this case.”
Worker suffers serious head injury
The HSE has prosecuted a Telford confectionery company Magna Specialist Confectioners Ltd after a worker’s head was hit with a one tonne force. The company was fined a total of £75,000 and ordered to pay costs of £37,500 by Shrewsbury Crown Court.
The company had pleaded guilty to breaching reg 11(1) PUWER 1998. A previous prosecution of the company in February 2008, under the same regulation, had already led to the company being fined £25,000.
The court heard how on 22 February 2007, at Magna’s site on Stafford Park Nine, Telford, an employee was attempting to wipe up a leak of refrigerant inside the interlocked safety doors of a machine on the production line. As his head went through the doors into the machine, the powered part of the machinery moved forcefully to one side, closing the gap
between it and a static part of the machine to approximately 5cm. The impact to the front of his head did not fully trap his head in the gap but luckily threw him out of the machine and prevented instant death.
The employee spent two weeks in a coma and serious head injuries have left him with a significant level of blindness and deafness, loss of taste and smell as well as suffering personality changes.
Speaking after the case, HSE investigating inspector Guy Dale said:
“It’s a fundamental expectation that employees should be able to work in safety. Assessing risks and implementing controls often only requires simple, cost-effective actions to be taken.
“An operative should not have been able to get to the dangerous parts of the machine while it was working at full production speed. When the interlocked doors were opened, the production line should have been designed to stop.
“The injured man is only in his early 30s and had the promise of a healthy future but now has such permanent damage that his future prospects and employment potential are severely restricted. He has a wife and a young daughter born a few months after the incident occurred.
“The fine imposed by the Crown Court reflects that there was a previous history cataloguing systemic machinery guarding failures in the company and a lack of risk assessment leaving employees exposed to risk to their health and safety.”
Worker loses finger
A Burnley tool manufacturer has been fined £1,000 after C.M.A Tools (Burnley) Ltd, of Westgate in the town has been was prosecuted by the HSE following an incident at its factory at Belle Vue Mill on 1 April 2009 when one of its workers lost a finger when it became trapped in machinery.
Reedley Magistrates’ Court heard that Paul Whittaker, 30 from Burnley, was using a piece of emery cloth to reduce the size of a metal component on a metalworking lathe.
The cloth became trapped by the rotating mechanism, pulling in his right hand. Mr Whittaker was wearing a glove at the time which pulled his hand further into the machinery.
The glove Mr Whittaker was wearing when he was injured
The court heard that Mr Whittaker had not received training on how to operate the machine safely, or on the dangers of using emery cloths on metalworking lathes.
HSE Inspector Imran Siddiqui said:
“Paul Whittaker has been unable to return to work and his injury has significantly affected his ability to grip and lift with his right hand. Sadly injuries like the one he suffered are all too common.
“A significant proportion of incidents at lathes are caused by emery clothes being used in an unsafe way. If Mr Whittaker had been warned against using a piece of emery cloth while he worked on the lathe, he would not have lost his finger.”
The HSE investigation found that the company had failed to adequately assess the risks of using emery cloths on rotating mechanisms, and had not implemented a safe system of work to control the risks.
CMA Tools pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of its employees. The company was ordered to pay costs of £1,000 in addition to the fine on 6 May 2010.
Imran Siddiqui added:
“CMA Tools should have provided a safe system of work and the appropriate training for Mr Whittaker. Workers should have been instructed to use a suitable tool to handle emery cloth so that their hands could not become trapped.
“This incident is also a reminder that gloves should not be worn when working with rotating parts. I hope manufacturers learn lessons from this case so that no more workers suffer permanent injuries in the future.”
Worker crushed in building collapse
The HSE has prosecuted building’s designer, Peter Wallace of the Wallace Partnership, and the principal contractor, Jack Smith (Builders) Ltd, following the collapse of an office block being built at Kirkham Crossroads on Freckleton Street Kirkham.
Part of a collasped office block in Kirkham
Blackpool Magistrates’ Court heard that emergency services, including Lancashire Fire and
Rescue Service’s major incident unit, were called to the scene on 14 October 2008.
The HSE investigation found that a concrete block pillar, used to support the first and second floors, had been resting on the ground floor instead of going down into the foundations.
Allen Shute, the investigating HSE Inspector in Lancashire, said:
“One of the workers’ legs was badly broken after the rubble fell on him, but the consequences could have been much worse. This was a basic error which should have been spotted by both the building’s designer and the principal contractor.
“It is common sense that the pillar supporting the floors should have gone into the foundations, and not just rested on the floor below. It’s vital companies learn lessons from this to prevent similar incidents happening in the future.”
Peter Wallace of the Wallace Partnership, of Pope Lane in Preston, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(2) HSWA. Jack Smith (Builders) Ltd, of Cottam Lane, Ashton in Preston, pleaded guilty to breaching the similar offence in s3(1) HSWA.
Both charges related to the safety of workers being put at risk. Peter Wallace was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £12,318 towards the cost of the prosecution at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court on 12 May 2010. Jack Smith (Builders) was fined £3,000 with costs of £12,318.
Suspended sentence for waste crimes
A man who ran an illegal waste site near Todmorden has received a suspended prison sentence. Mark Butterworth also has been electronically tagged and placed under curfew after admitting 11 charges in relation to the unlicensed waste transfer station at Springwood Mill in Pudsey Road, Cornholme, between February 2007 and January 2008.
At Bradford Crown Court Butterworth, 48, of Springwood Mill, Pudsey Road, Cornholme, received an 8 month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work.
HH Judge Jonathan Durham-Hall QC made him the subject of a curfew between 10pm and 6am and also bound him over for 12 months in the sum of £1,000 to keep the peace, with the warning not to bring or store waste on the site.
Butterworth had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing at Calderdale Magistrates’ Court and had been committed to Crown Court for sentence.
Giles Bridge, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, said Butterworth’s brother spoke to the Environment Agency in July and August 2003 about using Springwood Mill as a waste transfer station and was given advice about waste and drainage requirements. Mark Butterworth was present at some meetings.
After receiving complaints, the Environment Agency wrote in February 2004 to Springwood
Trading Limited, warning that waste activities at Springwood Mill were illegal.
In August 2006 the Environment Agency was informed that a planning application for a waste transfer station at Springwood Mill had been refused. An environment officer wrote to Springwood Trading Limited, warning that a waste management licence could not be issued until planning permission was granted and no waste transfer activities were permitted without a licence.
Mr Bridge said in September 2006 Mark Butterworth became a director of Springwood Trading Limited and is still registered with Companies House as the company’s sole director. The court heard Butterworth has been a registered leaseholder of the site since 1991.
When environment officers visited the site in February 2007 they saw general waste skips, as well as piles of soil and scrap metal. A company representative failed to attend for interview and later that year officers began observing activities at Springwood Mill.
During September 2007 officers saw skip lorries, bearing the name Springwood Trading Limited, depositing scrap and other waste, which was then sorted. They observed Mark Butterworth directing work on site and also saw other waste being tipped on land nearby.
Environment officers searched the site in October 2007, in spite of opposition from Mark Butterworth, and found similar amounts of waste to those observed the previous month. They seized documents and correspondence detailing skip hire transactions between January 2005 and October 2007, worth a total of £256,321.
In interview in October 2007, Butterworth gave a prepared statement, claiming to be a “sleeping partner” in Springwood Trading Limited and denied any offences.
The following month Butterworth contacted the Environment Agency to discuss applying for a waste management licence but did not proceed with an application. Neither did he respond to a letter under caution from the Environment Agency.
Environment officers returned to the site in January 2008 to find waste was still being kept there and they wrote to Butterworth and Springwood Trading Limited, warning that offences were still being committed.
In November 2008 the Environment Agency served notice on Butterworth and the company, giving a month to clear the site, which did not happen.
An Environment Agency application under the Proceeds of Crime Act will be heard at a later date.
£74,250 in fines for massive illegal dumping operation
Nine people involved with a massive illegal waste operation, which saw enough rubbish illegally dumped to fill more than three Olympic size swimming pools, have received fines at Maidstone Crown Court totalling £74,250.
More than 8000 cubic metres of waste was tipped at the illegal waste site in Polhill, Kent, between April and May 2008. The waste was made up of construction and demolition waste, the rubbish included very small bits of wood, plastic, metal, paper and tarmac.
Following a tip off the Environment Agency conducted surveillance to gather evidence of those illegally tipping at the site, and the site operators, at the site adjacent to the M25 owned by the Highways Agency. Once evidence was gathered the site was raided on in May 2008 and two arrests were immediately made. At that point the pile of waste was 300 metres long, up to five metres wide and up to three metres high.
The Environment Agency investigated further and took enforcement action against twelve defendants including the site operator, owners of the waste and those who illegally it dumped at Polhill.
The 9 defendants were sentenced and received the following fines:
• PJ BROWN LIMITED – fined £25,000, ordered to pay clean up costs of £6,250 and costs of £5,000
• PETER ALEXANDER – fined £14,000, ordered to pay clean up costs of £16,000 and costs of £5,000
• GREGORY ROFF – fined £9,000, ordered to pay clean up costs of £10,000 and costs of £3,000
• MARC GWYTHER – fined £4,000, ordered to pay £1,500 in clean up costs and costs of £1,500
• UNITED GRAB HIRE LIMITED – fined £9,000, ordered to pay £500 clean up costs and costs of £3,000
• LMD (CRUSHED AGGREGATES) LIMITED – fined £7,000, ordered to pay clean up costs of £750 and costs of £3,000
• CRAIG STARBUCK – fined £2,000, ordered to pay clean up costs of £200 and costs of £250.
• JOHN ANTHONY RYAN – fined £250, ordered to pay clean up costs of £200 and costs of £250.
• BSP (KNOCKHOLT) LIMITED – fined £4,000, ordered to pay clean up costs of £250 and costs of £3,000.
A further two defendants have already received formal cautions for their involvement in the illegal operation and Gillivans Transport Ltd has been found guilty previously at Sevenoaks Magistrates Court receiving a fine of more than £7,000. The remaining defendant, the site operator, is due in court later this week.
Dave Eden, Team Leader for Environmental Crime, said: “We are committed to stamping out illegal waste operations and will continue to use all resources available to us to target criminals who break the law by operating or using these sites.
“Illegal waste sites put the environment and human health at risk and undermine legitimate businesses. Prosecution is always a last resort, but there will always be some people who are persistent offenders and determined to flout the law to their own ends. These are the exact people the Environment Agency’s Environmental Crime Team has been set up to investigate.”
Emergency air quality team deployed in West Yorkshire
A new quick response service set up to co-ordinate air quality monitoring in major pollution incidents has been fully deployed for the first time.
The Air Quality Cell – a national, multi-agency group of technical experts chaired by the Environment Agency with the Health Protection Agency, Met Office, Health and Safety Laboratory and the Food Standards Agency – is currently advising the local health community, police and fire service after a blaze broke out at a chemical processing site in West Yorkshire.
Two monitoring teams have been deployed near to the Grosvenor Chemicals site, measuring air for potentially hazardous chemicals as the plume moves towards Huddersfield. Early information from the scene indicated that the fire is likely to contain a mixture of chemicals, and the Environment Agency is testing for up to 25 different pollutants. The Health Protection Agency is reviewing this data to assess the risk to public health.
The Air Quality Cell is providing information to the emergency services managing the incident, with details of nearby sensitive populations, predicted exposure levels and precautionary advice. Schools in the area have been closed as a precaution, and the surrounding roads were also closed.
The Met Office is providing up to the minute weather predictions and a forecast looking ahead several hours, while modelling is being provided by the Health and Safety Laboratory on the size and height of the chemical plume.
The water being used to tackle the fire is also expected to have an impact on the River Colne as it runs off the site. A separate Environment Agency team has been deployed to monitor water quality in the area.
The Air Quality Cell was set up to provide a fast, effective service to co-ordinate air quality data in the wake of the explosion at the Buncefield oil storage depot in 2005. An official report into the blast by the Major Incidents Investigation Board recommended that public health advice should be provided at the outset to assist those managing the incident in making a effective decisions.
United Utilities fined for Warrington river pollution
United Utilities Water PLC have been fined £12,000 by at Halton Magistrates’ Court for allowing untreated sewage to enter Springfield Brook, Warrington. The company was also ordered to pay the Environment Agency’s costs of £2,895.
Untied Utilities pleaded guilty to three offences;
• causing sewage effluent to be discharged into Springfield Brook, Warrington
• failing to maintain the stand by pump at Warrington Road Pumping Station, Locking Stumps, Warrington
• failed to repair a pumping station as soon as reasonably practicable
The court heard that on the afternoon of the 9 June 2009 the Environment Agency was called to investigate a serious pollution incident at Springfield Brook. The water had turned
brown in colour; there was solid sewage in the water and a strong smell of sewage.
The Environment Agency contacted United Utilities to report the incident and request that action was taken. Testing of the brook and a nearby pond at Birchwood Golf Club showed that oxygen levels were very low. Ecological surveys concluded there had been severe impact on the ecology of the watercourse. United Utilities was requested to arrange for the brook to be cleaned up and the company agreed to do so.
During the investigation it was found the United Utilities had failed to respond to a series of alarms from their telemetry system from 6 June onwards and for that reason had only become aware of the pollution when the Environment Agency contacted the company. The company failed to follow procedures for dealing with alarms which it had introduced following a previous pollution incident in 2006.
The incident occurred because, of the three pumps at the pumping station two broke down and a third pump had been removed for repair. United Utilities are required to fix any problems at the pumping station as soon as reasonably practicable in order to ensure that pollution incidents such as these do not occur.
Karen Henson, Environment Agency Officer said: “This incident had the potential to cause significant damage to the environment, which could have been avoided if the company had responded to the alarms promptly. United Utilities own and operate the sewer network throughout the region and are responsible for resolving any problems with this system. It is particularly disappointing, that the company failed to follow procedures introduced following a previous incident.”
United Utilities Water PLC fined £12,000
United Utilities has been fined £12,000 at Wigan Magistrates Court for allowing untreated sewage to enter the River Douglas, Wigan. The company was also ordered to pay the Environment Agency’s costs of £1,944.36.
Untied Utilities pleaded guilty to three offences;
• causing sewage effluent to be discharged into the River Douglas
• failing to notify the Environment Agency that there was potential to operate the emergency overflow system
• failing to maintain the duty pump and the stand by pump at Chorley Road Pumping Station, Standish, Wigan
The court heard that on the afternoon of the 15 July 2009 the Environment Agency investigated a report of a serious pollution incident that caused 8km of the River Douglas, Wigan to turn a dark blue colour with evidence of thousands of dead fish (road, perch, chub and eels). Officers investigating possible sources of the pollution contacted United Utilities Water PLC to establish if there had been any breakdowns or overflows from any local systems.
United Utilities informed Environment Agency officers that they had identified a problem that had occurred at Chorley Road Pumping Station, Standish, Wigan. Due to a failure in pump operation the sewage system did not perform as necessary and caused effluent to be
discharge into the river.
A failure with the pumps and with United Utilities central telemetry system lead it to be over five hours before there was a UU officer onsite to rectify the fault following the discharge. Over 20,000 litres of clean water was flushed through the river system in order to rectify the problem.
Ian Gaskell, Environment Agency Officer said: “A series of faults at the pumping station caused sewage effluent to enter the river leading to a serious pollution incident. Thousands of fish were killed on a large stretch of the River Douglas and on the Leeds Liverpool Canal. It is unfortunate that a number of faults occurred at the same time, as if we had been alerted earlier action could have been taken to help minimise and prevent the impact of the pollution to the river. “
United Utilities agreed in court to help with the restocking of fish in the River Douglas.
Abattoir operator fined almost £50,000
One of the UK’s largest chicken processing companies has been penalised with more than £62,000 in fines and costs for offences at a Devon abattoir
The case was brought by the Environment Agency.
Two Sisters Food Group operate an abattoir at Willand near Cullompton where it processes up to 700,000 chickens a week. Treated waste from the site’s effluent plant is discharged into the Spratford Stream. These discharges must comply with quality limits set by the Environment Agency in the abattoir’s permit. The operator is obliged to monitor the site and alert the Agency as soon as possible if the conditions of its permit are breached.
On April 30, 2009 the abattoir’s health and safety manager submitted a report to the Agency on works done to the effluent treatment plant. A quarterly return for the same period showed there had been eight separate breaches of the site’s permit.
The Agency told the court the person previously responsible for the abattoir’s effluent treatment plant had been made redundant and that the company hadn’t provided his replacement with adequate training. Also, no operating manual had been produced to ensure employees operated the effluent treatment plant correctly.
A court heard the illegal discharges had a serious impact on the Spratford Stream. They occurred over a period of some 8 months from January 2009. At times ammonia levels rose to 119mg/litre – almost 24 times the legal limit (5mg/l). Ammonia is toxic to aquatic life. Levels of Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) were up to three times the permitted limit – 61mg/l compared to 20mg/l.
A survey carried out by Environment Agency biologists showed the pollution had ‘severely impacted’ on the stream and that populations of some small creatures (invertebrates) had been completely wiped out.
‘These offences occurred over a period of several months and were avoidable. The company
should have identified the problem sooner and put measures in place to ensure effluent from its plant was being treated to the required standard,’ said Robert Tratt for the Environment Agency.
Appearing before Honiton magistrates, Two Sisters Food Group Ltd of Dial Lane, West Bromwich, Birmingham, West Midlands was fined a total of £49,500 and ordered to pay £13,17 costs after pleading guilty to 18 offences under the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2007 at its Willand plant between January 5 and August 11, 2009.
Since the offences, the company has spent £120,000 upgrading its effluent plant and operational systems. Magistrates heard the site is now performing well and is fully compliant.
Fly-tipping offences costly for offenders
A fly-tipper has been given a four-month suspended prison sentence and ordered to do 120 hours community service and a woman has been fined £480 after waste was found dumped at a fly-tipping hotspot in Spalding.
Spalding Magistrates’ Court heard the Environment Agency was alerted to both the separate incidents after the illegal deposits of waste were captured by surveillance equipment installed at the site. The vehicles used were then traced to the two defendants.
Jeffrey Townsend-Sawyer, of Station Road South, Walpole St Andrews, Wisbech pleaded guilty to fly-tipping waste in a lay-by at Old South Bank, Spalding. The waste consisted of corrugated sheeting, analysis of which showed it contained asbestos. He was ordered to pay a contribution of £1,500 towards costs and his prison sentence was suspended for a year.
Lisa Bryan, of Station Road, Wisbech St Mary, pleaded guilty to being the owner of a vehicle used to illegally deposit soil. She was also ordered to pay full Environment Agency costs of £1,686.
Bryan said when interviewed that she had been paying a local worker to dispose of the waste using her vehicle, at an authorised site believed to be near Wisbech.
Mrs Sarah Nicholson, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, said: ‘The offence could have been avoided had Bryan taken steps to determine where the waste was being taken and whether it was an authorised facility.’
Townsend-Sawyer initially denied fly-tipping the waste, claiming he had only been at the site to exercise his dogs. However, when presented with the surveillance footage he admitted that both the vehicle and the goods were his and that he had unloaded them at Old South Eau Bank.
Environment Manager Selena Randall said: ‘Fly-tipping is a prevalent problem across the country and has a ‘honey pot’ effect, attracting further illegal deposits.
‘In addition to the costs incurred by the Environment Agency in investigating incidents at this site, the local authority has expended considerable time and resources in recent years, conducting
regular clear-up operations to remove the large amounts of fly-tipped waste.
‘It is important that members of the public dispose of waste at authorised sites, especially as materials such as asbestos have carcinogenic properties.’
Townsend-Sawyer pleaded guilty to:
On or about 1 June 2009 on land in a lay-by at Old South Eau Bank, near Gedney Hill, Spalding, you did deposit controlled waste including chrysotile asbestos, when there was not in force an Environmental Permit granted by the enforcing authority, authorising the said deposit.
Contrary to Section 33(1)(a) and 33(6) Environmental Protection Act 1990
Bryan pleaded guilty to:
On 29 May 2009 on land at Old South Eau Bank, near Gedney Hill, Spalding in the county of Lincolnshire, you, being the person who on that day controlled or was in a position to control the use of a white Ford Transit tipper truck registration number, did knowingly cause the deposit of controlled waste, when there was not in force an Environmental Permit granted by the enforcing authority, authorising the said deposit.
Contrary to Section 33(5) and 33(6) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
Dredger fined for missing certificate
The vessel Norstone, a UK registered dredger, owned by Northwood (Fareham) Ltd was found by a surveyor on 7 January 2010 to have not been surveyed for the Safety Equipment Certificate since 28 December 2007, having missed the 2008 survey window. The company was fined £2,000 and costs of £4,217 for breaching the Merchant Shipping (Survey and Certification) Regulations 1996
HSE employee wins award
An HSE employee has won a prestigious award for a paper on new technology that could help reduce global warming. Mike Bilio received the accolade from the Institute of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) for a study of the health and safety implications of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) - an emerging technology which looks to prevent carbon dioxide, released by the burning of fossil fuels, reaching the atmosphere.
The winning paper, ‘CO2 Pipelines material and safety considerations’, was co-authored by Mike and his colleagues at University College London and Leeds University.
The award was presented on Friday 21 May 2010 at the Carbon Capture and Storage Early Enablers Seminar where HSE, the Environment Agency (EA) and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) chaired discussions on CCS.
HSE’s role is to enable the development of new energy technologies, such as CCS and ensure any new systems are designed, operated and maintained safely.
Mike Bilio, Process Integrity Leader of HSE’s Offshore Division, said: “Having my contribution
recognised by my peers in this way is an honour indeed, and recognises the expertise available within HSE.
“Carbon capture is an increasingly important area for development. We’re doing nationally important work which will have a real impact on all our lives.”
HSE Chair, Judith Hackitt, also a chemical engineer, who spoke at the event, said: “This is a real triumph for both Mike and HSE, and demonstrates our commitment to enabling the UK to innovate and implement carbon capture and other emerging technologies.
“There’s still a lot to do, but by working together to identify and follow up research issues, HSE, EA and SEPA are ensuring that knowledge gaps are addressed and risks addressed as an integral part of the technology development.”
Competence is key
At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious asbestos surveys are only effective if competent surveyors are employed to do them...That is one of the key messages being promoted at roadshows to help explain new guidance devised for those responsible for managing the risks from asbestos.
‘Asbestos: The survey guide’ (Ref: HSG264) which was published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in January is aimed at those who commission asbestos surveys, the surveyors who carry them out and those who use them such as architects and demolition or removal contractors.
A number of successful road shows, attended by surveyors and health and safety professionals have already taken place with further events scheduled.
The new guide stipulates that clients and duty holders only engage a surveying organisation that is competent. This can be demonstrated either through the organisation being accredited and/or individual surveyors having their own certification.
The guide strongly recommends the use of UKAS accredited or ABICS certified surveyors for asbestos surveys
Said Dr Martin Gibson, author of the guide and a Principal Specialist Inspector for HSE:
“Ensuring that contractors are competent to do asbestos surveys should be a top priority for those responsible for managing the risks from asbestos.
“Those organisations or individuals without accreditation and/or certification will find it more difficult to demonstrate that they are competent, so by employing a contractor with accreditation and/or certification, dutyholders can better meet their legal requirements.”
Added Martin Stear, Chair of the ABICS certification scheme:
“ABICS certification is a new scheme which certifies individuals, and has been introduced to expand the options for demonstrating competency. Clients engaging certificated surveyors can be assured that surveys will be undertaken by competent people”.
The roadshows are organised by the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) and Asbestos Testing and Consultancy (ATaC). For more information contact Louise Hall call 01332 250713 by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Asbestos, the survey guide” (HSG264) can be purchased from HSE books (ISBN 9780717663859) for £10.95 or downloaded for free at http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg264.htm
Quick reference factsheet to guide retailers on asbestos
Retailers are being sent a quick reference factsheet to help them understand their legal responsibilities on asbestos to ensure their workers, customers or any contractors are protected from exposure.
The HSE has teamed up with the BHF-BSSA Group - an independent retail trade body representing more than 7500 small retailers, after it was found that compliance with ‘duty to manage’ regulations was particularly low in this sector.
Any person or organisation responsible for the maintenance or repair of non domestic premises will almost certainly be responsible for managing any asbestos present, under Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.
The Fact Sheet outlines:
Who has the duty to manage;•
What the duty to manage means;•
Three essential steps to comply with the duty; and•
Advice on asbestos surveys.•
Steve Coldrick, HSE’s Asbestos Programme Director, said:
“Around 4000 people die each year from past exposure to asbestos. It may be present in any building built before the year 2000, and so it is essential that retailers are aware of the risk it still poses and their responsibilities in managing it.
“Working with the BHF-BSSA to put in simple terms what businesses should be doing will help remove any mystery or uncertainty around the regulations.”
Michael Weedon, BHF-BSSA Group Communications Manager, said: “Contractors never know what they are walking into when they start work on a job but retailers walk into the same premises day after day after day, so they really need to know what is lurking in their environment. “Our factsheet sets out to make the subject clear and easy to understand, both for those who own their own premises and those who rent them from others.”
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www.brunswicks.eu Editor: Andrew Dawson
HSE’s myth of the month: You don’t need to secure your load if you are just driving down the road
If not properly secured, vehicle loads can become unsafe, even over a short distance.
Loads that haven’t been firmly tied down increase the risk of vehicle rollover and spillage. They risk the lives of drivers and other road users, and can also cause annoying traffic disruption. More than 1200 people a year are injured as a result of unsafe loads, and millions of pounds are lost in damaged goods.
Don’t take the risk – make sure your load is restrained and contained!