4 meter fall lands company in court

A Southport company, Instruments & Gauges Electronics Ltd, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found that the employee was not given suitable equipment to carry out the work safely. has been fined after an employee sustained serious injuries when he fell some four metres from a bungalow roof.  The company specialises in manufacturing and repairing electrical test equipment and its managing director is also the landlord for several homes.

The 60-year-old from Southport, who has asked not to be named, fractured his skull and back, and broke several ribs in the incident on 6 March 2014.

Sefton Magistrates’ Court in Bootle heard on the 26th March, that the employee was asked to repair a broken ridge tile on the roof of a bungalow on Fylde Road in Southport. He used his ladder to reach the flat roof on a conservatory at the back of the property.  The worker then pulled the ladder up onto the conservatory roof and used it to reach the tile at the top of the bungalow roof. He fell around four metres and was found on the ground by the tenant, who called for an ambulance.

He was in the high dependency unit at the hospital for a week before being transferred to a normal ward, and was off work for 19 weeks as a result of his injuries.

Instruments & Gauges Electronics Ltd, of Gravel Lane in Banks, was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £961 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to single breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013.

The HSE investigation found the work on the roof had not been planned or supervised and the worker had not been given suitable equipment, such as scaffolding or a harness.  The company also failed to report the incident to HSE despite this being a legal requirement when workers suffer a serious injury.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Jackie Western said:

“One of the company’s employees has suffered serious injuries that may well affect him for the rest of his life because his employer ignored its legal duty to make sure he stayed safe.  Falls from height are the most common cause of deaths and serious injuries in the construction industry. The work to repair the ridge tile should have been planned properly but instead the employee was allowed to climb up to the roof without suitable equipment.

Instruments & Gauges Electronics should have made sure the work was carried out safely or, better still, hired a specialist roofing firm that knew what it was doing.”

More information on health and safety you can contact us.

Blunders leading to fire risk

 

January 2015 NEWSLETTER

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2015

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Blunders leading to Fire Risk

Improper guidance during the construction of a new timber frame care home in Hemlington, resulted in a firm of architects being fined!

A routine HSE inspection of the work found that the separation distance between the new timber frame building under construction and an adjacent occupied care home was insufficient.

Gas safety neglect lands property company in court

Lives have been put at risk by repeated failings to ensure that the gas boilers in the homes, rented by a property firm in Richmond, were safe and free from dangerous defects.

Barclay Ltd, of south west London were investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), after a complaint from a registered gas engineer discovered that a gas boiler in a rental in Hampstead had not been properly maintained.

Myth-busting by the HSE

The HSE Myth Busters Challenge Panel provides a mechanism to independently challenge potentially disproportionate or inaccurate advice or decisions, made in the name of health and safety.

“We think that communicating these decisions will help all our clients with a better insight into the ongoing ‘perception v’s reality’ arguments which appear in the media from time to time”.

Phil Jones

Chippy would not allow customer to put salt and vinegar on their fish and chips

Enquirer asked to put their own salt and vinegar on their take-away fish and chips (to get the amount right) but was told that customers could not put their own salt and vinegar on meals due to “Health and Safety”. Inquiring further they were told that they could not be sure where customers’ hands had been.

Read the Panel’s decision HERE.

School risk assessments to be re-done every year

An Educational Visit Coordinator has been told to re-do risk assessments for all school activities every year, as it is a health and safety requirement.

Read the Panel’s decision HERE.

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Legislation Updates

HSE has announced the publication of revised ACoPs & Guidance on the following topics: Pressure systems (L122) Lifting equipment (L113) Confined spaces (L101)

 

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Serial Safety Offender named

On the 19th March, Sheffield Crown Court was told that Meadowbank Vac Alloys, from Rotherham, was a serial safety offender.  The metals business has been sentenced after it repeatedly risked workers’ lives by making them use dangerous machines.  They had amassed a staggering 31 enforcement notices for safety breaches in just three months.

Meadowbank Vac Alloys allowed employees to operate vehicles and plant with category ‘A’ defects, the highest possible level meaning ’immediately dangerous’, and continued to keep the machines in use even after being specifically prohibited from doing so by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).  Twenty enforcement notices were served by HSE at the end of May 2012 after a visit by inspectors to the firm’s site in Harrison Street.  The visit was prompted by a complaint voicing concern about the condition of the firm’s vehicles.

The notices covered a multitude of safety and health risks ranging from improvements needed to a variety of plant and lifting machines to the provision of basic welfare facilities for staff.

The court heard that there were a further four visits by HSE between then and early August when additional enforcement notices were issued. These included seven which banned use of three forklift trucks, three mechanical grabs and a loading shovel that had no brakes. All had category A defects, identified by an independent engineer.  Despite numerous time extensions having been granted by HSE to Meadowbank Vac Alloys in which to comply with the enforcement notices, the company continually failed to take adequate action and workers had to operate the defective machines.

HSE identified that on two occasions in July and August, prohibited machines were still being used. None of the defects had been rectified and again the company director was informed specifically what was needed for the notices to be complied with.

In total 31 notices were served between 29 May and Aug 2012 identifying 57 safety breaches.

Meadowbank Vac Alloys, was fined a total of £36,000 and ordered to pay £36,000 toward prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998; and multiple breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 974, three relating to Prohibition Notices and two for offences of non-compliance with Improvement Notices.

After the hearing, investigating HSE inspector Denise Fotheringham said:

Meadowbank Vac Alloys displayed a reckless disregard for the safety of its employees and a persistent contempt for the legal notices issued requiring the firm to bring equipment to an acceptable standard.

“HSE exercised protracted patience with the company and was in regular contact with the director to ensure what was needed to comply was clear, unambiguous and fully understood.  Despite being given ample opportunity, Meadowbank chose to ignore their responsibilities; put workers in danger on a daily basis; defy the law and turn a deaf ear to information, advice and guidance conveyed by inspectors and an independent engineer.”

Dangers of not assessing risk

A leading international aluminium fabricator has been fined after a worker severed two fingers when his left hand was trapped in the loading clamps of an aluminium metal extrusion machine.  The company had failed to carry out a risk assessment to the machine prior to allowing workers to make crucial changes to the machine.

A 41-year-old from Tibshelf, Derbyshire, who does not want to be named, lost the end of his little finger and his ring finger to his second joint, as well as suffering burns, following the incident at Sapa Profiles UK on 18 March 2014.  He was off work for eight months, after which he returned to the company in a different role.

Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court heard on the 18th March, that the man was working to unblock a machine that pushes out aluminium to produce a manufactured piece. Solid aluminium is fed into the machine and heated to around 450 degrees, to soften it, so it can be extruded into a die, which will create the final item.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the interlocks on the machine, did not fully isolate the power when opened.

Access inside the press was required by employees to remove blockages from two points in the machine where they commonly occurred. This was a two person job.

On the 18 March 2014, the injured person and another person entered the machine to remove one of these blockages. They accessed the machine through separate gates. The second person left the machine, closing his gate, leaving the injured person inside with his gate open. Unfortunately, having only the one gate open didn’t fully isolate the machine.  So when the machine was restarted it allowed the loading clamps to operate whilst the injured person was inside the danger zone. His hand was trapped, resulting in contact burns and serious finger injuries.

The company had failed to carry out a risk assessment to the machine prior to making these crucial changes.

Sapa Profiles UK Ltd, of Mansfield Road, Tibshelf, plead guilty to breaching regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.  They were fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £1,784.50 in costs and a £120 victim surcharge.

After sentencing, HSE inspector Lindsay Bentley said:

“Sapa Profiles UK Ltd allowed access to the dangerous parts of the press, including the loading arms and clamps that injured the worker.  Furthermore, the company’s risk assessment was not suitable and sufficient to ensure that the relevant dangerous parts of the Press would stop before a person entered the Press. Following the incident it took just 10 minutes for these interlocks to be reprogrammed.

“It should not have been possible to access a danger zone without the machine being safely isolated. It meant operators who had to frequently unblock the machine were routinely exposed to unnecessary risk. ”

In any work environment it is imperitive that risks are assessed and the correct procedures in place to ensure safe working environments.  To speak with Quantum about your requirements, please contact us.

Multiple failings cause £55,000 fines

Visiting health and safety inspectors had to issue eight notices to immediately halt a range of work activities at a waste and recycling site in Carmarthen that was in such a dangerous condition.

The site run by Mekatek Ltd at Amex Park, Johnstown was subject to a routine inspection by HSE inspectors on 20 May 2013 when a number of serious safety issues were discovered, including access to unguarded dangerous machinery, exposure to risk of electrocution and areas contaminated by asbestos containing materials.

At the end of February 2015 the court was told the site had a catalogue of dangerous points, including:

  • A “man basket” on a forklift truck to allow workers to carry out work at height. This basket was not secured to the forks of the truck and there was no cage behind the basket to stop workers becoming trapped with the fork lift truck mast.
  • There were no suitable guards to prevent workers getting caught in the moving machine parts of a granulator, two compactors, a shredder and a paint mixing drum.
  • Electrical cables were found trailing through liquid, leading to a risk of electrocution.
  • Exposed and damaged pipe lagging, which included asbestos containing materials, was in a poor state and exposed workers at the site to the risk of contamination. This was allowed to continue by Mekatek despite an earlier report by a specialist that had identified the presence of asbestos in the area and recommended its urgent removal.

Mekatek Ltd of Terminus Road, Sheffield, pleaded guilty to a breach of health and safety regulations, a single breach of control of asbestos regulations and a breach of work equipment regulations and was fined a total of £35,000 and ordered to pay £20,000 in costs.

Clare Owen, HSE inspector, spoke after the hearing, she said:

“The conditions at this site were extremely poor and the dangers were quite clear. It’s very fortunate no-one was killed or seriously injured there.

Mekatek failed to manage basic health and safety at the site and these multiple failings confirm its approach was totally inadequate. The issues identified, such as cables trailing through liquid and management of asbestos should have been immediately obvious.

The management also relied on health and safety managers it employed for advice but failed to check if they were competent and had appropriate qualifications, particularly for the management of asbestos.

Twenty tradespeople, on average, die from asbestos related diseases in Britain every week and it’s the biggest single cause of work related deaths in the country.  The lives of the 34 workers at the site and any visitors depended on the company meeting its legal health and safety obligations fully.”

Referenced from Atac

Lift failing on Tower Bridge

A vital mechanism failed causing a Tower Bridge lift to fall several metres into a service pit.  The lift company, Temple Lifts Ltd, has today (6th March) been ordered to pay £100,000 in fines and costs after terrified tourists were left with broken legs and ankles.  Four people sustained bone fractures in the incident at the popular London landmark on 11 May 2009.  A further six were treated for shock as walking wounded.

The lift car they were travelling in was ascending to the Tower Bridge Exhibition when it suddenly fell down the shaft from a distance of approximately three metres.

The company responsible for maintaining and servicing the lift, Temple Lifts Ltd, was sentenced today following a complex technical investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), supported by the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL). It identified failures linked to the maintenance of two refurbished lifts at Tower Bridge.

Southwark Crown Court heard that ten people, including one agency worker serving as a lift operator, were in the lift when it fell. The other passengers, all tourists, included an elderly couple and a young family.  The car ended up in a pit below the ground floor lift entrance after a counterweight mechanism failed.

The HSE investigation revealed that there had been a number of historic component failures in the counterweight mechanism on two separate lifts at the attraction prior to the catastrophic failure. However, these components had simply been replaced without a proper review and investigation as to why they were failing early.

HSE concluded that the uncontrolled fall could have been avoided had more in-depth analysis occurred, and that the fact this had not happened was indicative of wider failings.  Temple Lifts Ltd, of Baring Lane, London, SE12, was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £50,000 in costs after pleading guilty to two charges covered by Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

After sentencing HSE Inspector Michael La Rose said:

“This was a truly disturbing incident that affected a number of people and that could have resulted in even greater injuries.  It is vital that lifts are properly maintained, and that urgent action is taken if any possible issues or concerns are identified. There were warning signs here that were seemingly overlooked, and missed opportunities to properly rectify recurring faults.

Temple Lifts could and should have done more to ensure the lift was properly maintained, and there were clear failings in this regard.”

London Basement Building faces scrutiny

The Health and Safety executive are to carry out a two-day inspection initiative of basement projects in high-value London boroughs, week commencing 9th March.

A number of fatal incidents, as well as serious injuries, in the capital in recent years relating to basement projects, has prompted this investigation.  Construction inspectors will be focusing on sites in two boroughs – Kensington and Chelsea, and Hammersmith and Fulham – in a bid to improve safety in the increasingly popular basement sector.

Over the last 10 years, HSE has received reports of 17 construction workers having died as a result of an excavation collapsing, whilst in the same period 27 were seriously injured.

Inspection teams will be looking at key safety issues including collapsing excavations; risk of building collapse from structural alterations or undermining by excavating; the dangers of handling heavy steel beams; poor access and risks of open or unprotected parts of sites. Other issues such as poor welfare facilities and lack of training can also give rise to HSE action if found.

HSE construction inspector James Hickman, whose team covers south-west London, said:

“The construction of basements in London is increasingly widespread. Often it is carried out under existing homes as owners seek to increase their living space without a house move.  The work is technically challenging and can carry substantial risk. Standards are often poor and often vulnerable sections of the labour market are recruited.

Contractors are failing to appoint a competent temporary works engineer to design suitable propping to support excavations and existing structures. Likewise, on many projects basic safeguards are missing, such as edge protection to prevent falls from height. And all too often little thought is given to providing proper welfare facilities for site workers.

Where we find poor practice that is putting lives at risk we will take action, including stopping work and prosecuting those responsible.”

The risks of working in unsupported excavations are well known throughout the industry, as are the precautions required to ensure work is carried out safely. The HSE publication HSG150 ‘Health and safety in construction’ contains advice and guidance on what measures to take in order to ensure excavation works are carried out safely. This document is free to download from the HSE website.  The targeted inspection is part of continuing efforts by HSE to improve health and safety.

NHS Trust in court over asbestos

Fines of £10,000 have been issued to a Liverpool NHS Trust, after it emerged its workers may have been exposed to potentially-deadly asbestos fibres.

The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after the fibres were discovered in the basement of its offices at Derwent House on London Road in January 2013.

Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard that the organisation had failed to act on a survey carried out in 2006 which identified that an area of the basement may contain asbestos, and recommended that its condition should be properly assessed.

The investigation found that workers had regularly been visiting the basement to access patient records.  The risk to workers became apparent in January 2013 when the NHS Trust’s health and safety manager noticed that the doors to an out-of-use goods lift in the basement were damaged.  The lift doors contained asbestos, which meant there was a risk of exposure to those accessing the basement.

A subsequent survey found asbestos fibres present in several different areas of the basement.

The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust, of Prescot Street in Liverpool, plead guilty and was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £696 in prosecution costs after being found guilty of to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 on 26 February 2015.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Imran Siddiqui said:

“Around 4,000 people die every year as a result of breathing in asbestos fibres, making it the biggest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK.  It’s therefore vital that organisations take the risks from asbestos seriously. The Trust, in line with the 2006 survey, should have assumed asbestos was present in an area of the basement and taken appropriate action to make it safe for people working there.

“Instead, workers were allowed to regularly visit the basement to access patient files increasing the risk of exposure to the potentially-deadly fibres.”

Asbestos was extensively used as a building material in the 50s, 60s and 70s but it becomes dangerous if it is broken up and fibres are released. Airborne fibres can become lodged in the lungs or digestive tract and can lead to lung cancer or other diseases, but symptoms may not appear for several decades.

Quantum Compliance can provide information on how to work safely with asbestos.  You can view our asbestos service specifications or contact us for advice.