Fun at Flat Living Live

Flat Living Live Property Management Event

 

The Flat Living Live property management expo was held on the 8th and 9th July and was the perfect meeting place for Residential Block managers and suppliers!
It was great to meet so many of you and with a variety of different stands, games and companies in attendance there was a lot of fun to be had.

We are already looking forward to meeting many of you again!

 

Young man dies at work

Former Director Wayne Cooper, 40, of Coopers Services Limited has been sentenced after 24-year-old worker dies on second day of job.  The company had been employed by a domestic client to connect new build bungalows to mains drainage, water and gas supplies.

Sadly the young worker died on his second day at work after a trench collapsed in on him. Despite the effort of rescuers who dug for 15 minutes to free him, 24-year-old Callum Osborne died of traumatic asphyxia at the scene.

Access to the site was along a narrow driveway and Wayne Cooper started the work on 29 March to dig a trench for gas and water which was back filled by 1 April.  Work was then started on the drainage – a few feet from the previously dug trench and by 4 April a manhole chamber was prepared at the entrance to the drive. This work was done by Coopers Services Ltd workers and over the next two days manholes and trenches were prepared around the bungalows.

On 7 April, Mr Osborne was acting as a banksman and taking measurements of trench depth while a colleague was digging the main trench down the centre of the driveway for the drainage pipes and banking soil either side of the trench.  Wayne Cooper arrived on site late morning and took over operation of the digger. At around 12.30pm there was a delivery of shingle, then shouting was heard and it became apparent Mr Osborne had been buried in the trench in front of the digger.

Wayne Cooper, 40, director of Coopers Services Limited, a now-dissolved company, appeared at Canterbury Crown Court for sentencing following an HSE investigation into the incident in Swalecliffe, Whitstable in April 2011.  He was given two years to pay his fine of £75,000 or face 18 months in prison.

Mr Cooper was told by an inspector from HSE that it was “unlawful and highly dangerous” to allow the work to proceed.

The initial inquest by the HSE ruled the death as accidental.  HSE investigated further into the case; however Mr Cooper refused to answer any questions about safeguards taken at the site, simply responding “no comment”.

In court it was heard how Mr Osborne, whose partner was eight months pregnant at the time, had been working for Cooper Services Ltd and Mr Cooper for just two days when the incident occurred.

 

Mr Cooper said:

“Callum was there, I could just see his head, and then I just panicked, screaming for help and started digging, just to try and save him.  I tried my hardest and screamed and tried to get Callum out. I started to dig with my hands.”

He said he had also used a spade.

“I was using just anything to try and get him out.”

 

Emergency services attempted to save Mr Osborne but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

At the earlier inquest it was heard how the workers had previously been using a piece of wood laid across the trench, to lower pipes into it. Some pipes had been laid but towards the end the pipes were out of the ground.  Mr Cooper said a laser level had been used to establish the trench gradient and Mr Osborne had been checking it as they worked their way down, using a staff and receiver, picking up a signal from a laser on a tripod.

He had been putting the staff in the trench to do this by holding his arm out and touching the bottom.  The HSE investigation found that the drive was about three metres wide.  The material excavated from the trench had been piled up alongside each side of the trench which had no means of support to prevent collapse and no barriers or edge protection to prevent falls into the trench.

Wayne Peter Cooper, 40, director of Coopers Services Limited (Coopers Services Ltd is now dissolved) of Watchester Farm Cottages, Ramsgate, Kent pleaded guilty to breaches of regulation 31 (1) (a, b and c) and 31 (2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

He was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years. He was also fined £75,000. If the fine is not paid with two years, Mr Cooper faces 18 months imprisonment. Prosecution costs of £25,000 were awarded against him.

 

HSE inspector, Melvyn Stancliffe said after the case:

“HSE’s sympathies are extended to the family of Callum Osborne, a young man whose life lay ahead of him.  This was a totally preventable accident. Mr Cooper was an experienced ground worker and knew the way he was allowing the work to proceed was unlawful and highly dangerous.

This incident happened because of Mr Cooper’s failure to plan and manage the job properly. Had Mr Cooper taken measures to prevent a trench collapse at the planning stage or on the day of the incident, Callum’s family would not have to endure the heartbreak of losing someone so dear to them.  This was only Callum’s second day working for Mr Cooper. He would still be alive today had well established working practices been followed.”

 

Legionnaires’ disease kills four people yet no one prosecuted

The Crown Office has announced that an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Edinburgh has killed four people.

During the outbreak in 2012 a total of 92 cases were identified yet the investigation was unable to identify the source of the bacteria.

Lawyers representing 40 people affected by the outbreak said it was now “crucial” that a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) is held into the case.  The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said it would consult the families before it made a decision on whether or not to hold an FAI.

Elaine Russell, a partner at Irwin Mitchell Scotland, the firm leading the legal case on behalf of the victims, said:

“We have repeatedly called for more information to be shared with the victims but have been met with a wall of silence for years.  It is embarrassing that they have had to wait so long for the authorities to investigate and share their findings.

Three years ago four people lost their lives and almost 100 suffered from Legionnaires ‘ disease, yet the authorities are no closer to knowing what the source of the illness was.”

Catherine McDonald, the partner of Bert Air who was one of four people who died in the outbreak said she was “hurt, angry and disappointed” at the outcome of a meeting between the families and the Crown Office.

“I simply cannot express the frustration that I feel, we have waited so long to reach this point but I don’t feel we have been provided with any answers as to what happened. I still want to know why Bert died.”

Patrick McGuire, a partner with Thompsons Solicitors (representing nine families affected by the outbreak), said:

“This is very disappointing news from the Crown Office.  This mass poisoning took place in our capital city and yet no one has been brought to book.  My legal team will now begin immediate work on civil legal proceedings but the Crown Office must also convene a fatal accident inquiry into the outbreak to provide answers for the victims and to stop this ever happening again.”

 

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said the investigation, also involving the police, saw a team analyse samples from several sites.  It was one of the most complex it has ever undertaken and is understood that a cluster of cooling towers in the south-west of the city formed part of the inquiry.  Legionella bacteria are commonly found in sources of water such as rivers and lakes and they can end up in artificial water supplies such as air conditioning systems, water services and cooling towers.

Legionnaires’ disease is contracted by breathing in small droplets of contaminated water.  It is not contagious and cannot be spread directly from person to person.
The investigation into the outbreak involved the HSE and the police.

Gary Aitken, head of the health and safety division at the COPFS, said:

“Following a complex and thorough investigation which involved detailed genetic analysis we can only conclude that there is no scientific basis for any prosecution related to the deaths and as a result no criminal proceedings are instructed by crown counsel.

This was always going to be a difficult and complex investigation due to the number of potential sources in the Gorgie area but we continued on in the hope that the necessary scientific evidence would come to light. Unfortunately that hasn’t happened.  We will now consult further with the families before making any decision in relation to a fatal accident inquiry.”

 

Alistair McNab, HSE head of operations in Scotland, said:

“This was the largest outbreak in Scotland in the last 10 years and one of the most complex HSE has investigated, involving visits to multiple sites and dutyholders including contractors and sub-contractors to check compliance with Legionella control standards.

As HSE and public health experts made clear at the time of the outbreak the source may never be conclusively identified, based on our experience from previous outbreaks.

This can be due to the fact that Legionnaires’ disease can have a long incubation period of up to 19 days, so by the time an outbreak is notified to HSE and other regulatory bodies and sampling carried out on water systems, the bacteria levels may have changed or the source producing bacteria may have ceased operation.  In addition, as a precautionary measure to prevent further ill health when an outbreak is declared, companies are encouraged to shock-dose their cooling towers with chemicals, which again can prevent positively identifying the source.”

 

Quantum Comments:

The risk of legionella is likely to increase in July for obvious reasons. We know that cooling towers operating without proper risk controls can cause significant ill health. Here are a few key things you can check to monitor that things are in order:

  • Weekly dip slides carried out and results within normal parameters.
  • Water log is up to date and any defects have been actioned or planned.
  • Any high priority items from the last risk assessment have been actioned.

Hospital Trust fined for failing to control legionella

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, has been fined  £50,000 with costs of £38,705.60 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.  A joint investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Sussex Police identified a history of failing to manage the deadly waterborne bug.

The investigation followed the death of vulnerable cancer patient Joan Rayment, 78, from Rottingdean at the Royal Sussex on 9 November 2011 – eight days after a urine tested positive for the legionella bacteria antigen.   An Inquest into Mrs Rayment’s death found that she died of natural causes and that by the time of her death, the legionella pneumonia appeared to have been successfully treated. However the inquest found that the infection may have hastened her death.

The Trust was sentenced on 11 June at Lewis Crown Court after hearing that although the Trust was monitoring legionella and water temperatures across its various sites at the time of Mrs Rayment’s death, between October 2010 and November 2011 a total of 114 positive legionella tests and a further 651 records of water temperatures outside the required parameters were not adequately acted upon.

Chloride Dioxide units were fitted at five sites to control the bacteria, but HSE inspectors found they routinely failed to emit the required dosage to work effectively.

High legionella readings were detected in the Lawson Unit, Barry Building, Tower Block, Sussex Eye Hospital and Outpatients department.

Inspectors also found that water in the Jubilee building at the Royal Sussex often failed to reach the 60 degree Celsius temperature needed to kill off legionella, which was another control system the Trust relied upon.

The court was told that one of the major contributors to the serious control failures was the fact that staff did not have sufficient instruction, training and supervision to be able to make informed decisions and take appropriate action.

The intervention of HSE and Sussex Police in the aftermath of Mrs Rayment’s death resulted in a new management system to effectively control legionella.

After sentencing, HSE Inspector Michelle Canning commented:

“The legionella control failures we identified at the Royal Sussex are made all the more stark by the fact that those most at risk of contracting legionella were amongst the most vulnerable in our society – including cancer patients like Joan Rayment.

All organisations have a legal duty to control the risks arising from hot and cold water systems, but healthcare providers like hospital trusts must be especially vigilant and robust in terms of the systems they have in place.”

Summer Hazards

As we head into what will hopefully be a warm and sunny summer, just a reminder about some of the issues surrounding this time of the year.

There is no legal maximum temperature temperature under UK law, however research shows that once the temperature is consistently over 30oC people can start showing signs of heat stress.

Heat Stress can then occur when the body overheats. This is more likely in industries where the temperature cannot be controlled and specific protective clothing has to be worn. Even in offices conditions can become very uncomfortable. The obvious solution is to reduce the temperature, e.g. air conditioning, however this is not always possible. Wear light and loose clothing and keep hydrated can help.

The HSE have compiled a free leaflet on heat stress.

 

Flat Living Live Property and Asset Management Expo

With only a few days to go until Flat Living Live, we are getting ready to set up at the Business Design Centre in Islington.

Flat Living Live promises to be the leading national event for Residential Block Management and the supply chain this year!  With thousands of deligates set to attend and many leading industry suppliers, ourselves included, committed to presenting innovative ranges of products and services, as well as providing updates to both new and existing clients.

The event is also supported by the leading trade bodies and associations, including ARMA, RICS, IRPM, FPRA, ALEP and LEASE, who will all be showcasing their services to members and non-members alike.

If you are working within the industry, you will find Flat Living Live the place to be this July. You can engage with hundreds of property managers, experienced suppliers and enjoy a range of informative seminars.

We will be posting information and pictures live from the event so ensure you follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn to keep up to date with news from the expo.

Lift shaft fall breaks a mans leg

The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) has been sentenced after a member of the public, Mr Hector Maclean, fell into a vacant lift shaft.  Mr Maclean, 23, fell into a vacant lift shaft after leaning on a set of double doors at street level.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that RADA had failed to carry out a basic risk assessment on a vacant lift shaft at its site with access from the street.

The doors were operated and controlled by RADA at its Central London campus. The doors were secured with a lock and key.  Mr Maclean leant against one of the doors and it opened inwards causing him to fall backwards through the double doors and into the lift shaft. He fell between five and six metres to the bottom of the lift shaft, breaking both legs.

His injuries have prevented him from attending university and working as a fashion model.

RADA, of Gower Street, London, pleaded guilty at Westminster Magistrates’ Court and was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £1,266 in costs for breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act1974.

 

Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 states:

“It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health and safety

 

Quantum Comments;

This is another example of a basic hazard which was not identified. Its worth checking with all your lift engineers that they properly barrier off and supervise lift shafts when they are working on them. Also when lifts are out of use, either temporarily or permanently, that they are properly isolated and the landing doors secured.