Serial Safety Offenders

    April 2015 NEWSLETTER
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Serial Safety Offender

Amassed 31 enforcement notices

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.

Liverpool NHS Trust Fined

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 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.

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

Takeaway will not allow customers to use their own carrier bags

Since the mandatory 5p carrier bag charge was introduced in Scotland a Scottish takeaway has claimed that because of health and safety regulations they can’t take customers own bags into the kitchen to pack their food in and that customers can’t be allowed to pack the food themselves into their own bags because the food is too hot.

Read the Panel’s decision HERE.

Parent not allowed to accompany son on a school trip

A primary school had arranged a trip to a local zoo and asked for parents to volunteer to go with them. A parent volunteered and she told her son she was going and booked the day off work. However, the day before they were due to go she was told she was not required as they already had three parents going, so she asked if she could drive herself there to meet her son and the school class, and pay for herself to get in as she had told son she was going and he was excited. The school said she was not allowed to go for “health and safety” reasons. They said that the risk assessment doesn’t allow for her to go.

Read the Panel’s decision HERE.
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Asbestos Safety Campaign wins award

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) ‘Beware Asbestos’ safety campaign received a gold award for innovation at this year’s Institute of Promotional Marketing (IPM) Awards.

HSE and a creative communications agency, who worked with HSE to design the safety kits and develop a partnership marketing arrangement), collected the award for ‘Best use of innovation in a business-to-business campaign using incentive or promotional products’ category at an awards ceremony on Tuesday 9 June.

The behaviour change campaign was launched in September 2014 and was aimed at tradespeople who are most at risk from exposure to asbestos. It included the distribution of 200,000 asbestos safety kits through TradePoint stores and the development of a web app to help identify where asbestos could be.

The Health and Safety Executive’s Head of Corporate Communications, Sarah Dean Kelly, said:

“It is fantastic that the campaign has received the recognition it deserves. Communications and policy colleagues have worked incredibly hard over a long period of time to develop the campaign using the insight we gathered about the audience and to deliver the campaign in a way that would both engage those at risk, and also prompt behaviour change.

We are in the process of developing proposals for a phase two of Beware Asbestos so this is well-timed and much-welcomed recognition and encouragement.”

The campaign was assessed against the following criteria: having clear and measurable objectives; evidence of effectiveness and results; creativity; and innovation.

IPM judges commented that the campaign had a

‘good use of different comms media and execution techniques to tackle an important health and safety issue.  This campaign saves lives!’

If you would like our assistance in ensuring you remain compliant, please download our Asbestos Services Factsheet or contact Quantum Compliance on 0800 6444142

Six dead in balcony collapse

Six Irish people have been killed and seven others remain in hospital after a fourth-floor balcony collapsed at a US apartment in Berkeley.

The collapse happened on Tuesday (16th June) in the city of Berkeley.

Philip Grant, the Consul General of Ireland to the Western United States said;

“We’re still in an emergency response mode.  It’s a formative experience, and to have this happen … has left us all frozen in shock and disbelief”.

The victims were Ashley Donohoe, 22, Olivia Burke, 21, Eoghan Culligan, 21, Niccolai Schuster, 21, Lorcan Miller, 21 and Eimear Walsh, 21.

The cause of the collapse is still under investigation, but the city’s police chief said there was no indication of any criminal activity at this point.  Photos taken at the scene appear to show a 5ft x 10ft (1.5m x 3m) balcony on the fourth floor of the building fallen on to the balcony on the level below.

Enda Kenny, the Irish Prime Minister, said that police had told him there were 13 people on the balcony when it collapsed.  Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan said that four of the victims died at the scene and another died in hospital.

A Berkeley city official said that building inspectors had visited the building on Tuesday.  Three remaining balconies on the building have been closed.

 

Fire Safety Seminar at the Summer Conference

On the 11th June in Birmingham, Phil Jones, our Technical Director, ran a fire safety seminar at the Association of Retirement Home Managers Summer Conference.

Philip’s presentation focussed on the circumstances when and where automatic fire detection and alarm systems were required in retirement properties as well as generally reviewing the fire risk assessment process.

For more information on our services, view our  Fire Safety services page where you can download relevant documentation.

You can also view a selection of our safety videos, including how to check fire doors.

Health and Safety Training to reduce accidents

Research by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)  has shown that Health and Safety training is effective in reducing accidents and in developing a positive health and safety culture.

Training doesn’t need to be limited to formal qualifications.  On the job training, toolbox talks and in-house training can all contribute to building competence. The essential thing is that all training is relevant to the roles and responsibilities of the individual.

We believe in delivering client specific accredited courses to ensure your staff and company remain compliant and safe.  Our services cover

  • IOSH managing safely and working safety
  • NEBOSH certificate courses in health and safety and fire safety
  • Sector specific health and safety awareness
  • Fire marshal/wardens
  • Legionella and water hygiene awareness training
  • Contractor management
  • Manager and Director responsibilities
  • Plus numerous bespoke management / awareness

You can download our Training Courses Directory and our Training Services Summary to view more details.

Children Crushed

We are still finding issues with automatic gates following several serious incidents involving children being crushed which were widely reported in the press.

Specific hazards to consider are crushing hazards presented at both ends of the gate, i.e. not only at the leading edge.

What do you need to do? There are a number of things you can do:

  1. Does the gate meet the current standards, especially in relation to the closing force, the installer should be able to confirm.
  2. Are effective sensors provided to detect someone in the crushing zone and stop the gate closing.
  3. Is effective guarding provided to prevent some being crushed at the other end of the gate, ie when the gate opens.
  4. Is the gate regularly maintained by a competent contractor and are records available to support this.
  5. Are all these points included in your risk assessment.

For further information click on the following link detailing the risks to pedestrians from crushing zones on electrically powered gates.

Boy aged 4 is killed in Hugo Boss Store after health and safety failings

On June 4 2013 an 18st changing room mirror fell and killed Austen Harrison, aged 4 in Hugo Boss.  Austen Harrison suffered “devastating” head injuries after the 6ft 6in high unsecured mirror came down on top of him.

Designer brand Hugo Boss has admitted health and safety breaches in connection with the death in the changing room area of the Hugo Boss store in Bicester Village, Oxfordshire.

The incident left the youngster with irreparable brain damage and he was taken off life support at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital four days later.

Jonathan Laidlaw QC, representing Hugo Boss UK Limited, entered guilty pleas on behalf of the company to offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, at Banbury Magistrates’ Court yesterday (2nd June).  Prosecuting on behalf of Cherwell District Council, Barry Berlin argued that although the luxury brand could be sentenced at the Magistrates’ Court, the maximum fine of £20,000 per offence was not sufficient.

He asked for the matter to be sent to Crown Court, where the recommended starting point of a £100,000 fine per offence could be imposed or even exceeded.

Mr Berlin said:

“Plainly this is a very serious matter relating to a child aged four-and-a-half who on June 4 2013 was struck on the head by a seven feet tall, 18-stone free-standing three-way mirror.

“It wasn’t fixed to the wall despite its own requirements. We say bearing in mind that the injuries the child sustained resulted in his death this is a case that should be dealt with in the Crown Court.”

 

District Judge David Chinery agreed with the submission, saying:

“This is quite plainly an exceptionally sad case and one where I consider that the penalties available in this court are clearly, clearly not appropriate to a case of this magnitude.”

 

In March this year an inquest into Austen’s death heard that the youngster, from Crawley, West Sussex, had been playing with the heavy steel-framed fitting room mirror – while his father tried on a suit – when it fell on him.

Oxford Coroner’s Court heard the mirror had been placed in the changing room area several months before Austen and his parents visited the outlet store in Oxfordshire.

The inquest jury returned a narrative verdict, stating the mirror should have been fixed to the wall and the wall should have been reinforced, while coroner Darren Salter described the incident as “an accident waiting to happen”.

Hugo Boss UK Limited is due to be sentenced at Oxford Crown Court on June 19 after pleading guilty to one offence of an employer failing to ensure the health and safety of a person other than an employee, and one offence of contravening a health and safety regulation.

 

Quantum Comments

While this case hasn’t yet reached its conclusion, it appears to be an example of how people can easily become ‘risk tolerant’ ie that obvious health and safety hazards are not spotted and remedied. It also demonstrates the importance of regular monitoring of site standards, eg completing of weekly/monthly checklists.

Workers exposed to asbestos

A laboratory design and installation specialist, Labform Ltd, has been fined (12th May 2015) after exposing workers, pupils and teachers to asbestos material at a school in Suffolk.

The incident in July 2012 occurred during refurbishment work to modernise parts of Newmarket College School’s Science block. During the work, managed by Labform Ltd, sub-contractors disturbed asbestos as they were removing a wall and channelling the floor.

The Cheshire firm was prosecuted at Ipswich Magistrates Court on Tuesday 12 May after an investigation found that the company had not arranged for a detailed Refurbishment and Demolition Asbestos Survey to be undertaken, as was required.

Labform Ltd, of Lymm, Cheshire, was fined £22,400 and ordered to pay £11,741 in costs after pleading guilty to four breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector David King said:

“Exposure to asbestos fibres is a serious and well known health risk, so it is essential that duty-holders take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent the disturbance, spread and exposure to asbestos.

Failing to take action to identify asbestos while planning work, and to ensure that any contractors who may disturb asbestos are aware of the location and type of asbestos present, and not taking appropriate measures to protect the health of others, is totally inexcusable.”

To find out how we could assist you in remaining legally compliant and in keeping your workplace safe please ready our Asbestos Services information.