Young girl dies when head became stuck in lift doors

An inquest has been opened and adjourned after a five-year-old girl died when her head became stuck in a lift.  The inquest will resume on 20 January.

Firefighters helped free Alexys Brown from the lift at Emmadale Close, Weymouth, on 13 August but she was pronounced dead in hospital.  Coroner Sheriff Payne was told she died of neck and face injuries after becoming trapped between part of the lift and the ground floor ceiling.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has confirmed it is investigating the incident.

Last week the Mayor of Weymouth and Portland, Christine James, said

“news of Alexys’s death had come as a “total shock” to the “tight-knit” community.”
She added “residents were likely to rally round and do what they can to help”.

Dorset County Council said it had not installed the lift at the property.
A spokeswoman for the authority said the lift involved was commonly known as a “through floor lift” and enabled someone with a physical disability to access upper floors, where stairs cannot be used.  The two-storey house has a disabled ramp outside.

 

Quantum Comments

This is yet again another example of a basic hazard which was not identified. Lifts should be checked by engineers who 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.

Elderly tenant put at risk from a faulty gas heater

An elderly tenant was left at risk from a dangerous and faulty gas heater after a Gloucester firm carried out refurbishment work on her home.  The woman’s home in Coral Close, Holmleigh, was one of 67 properties that had been refurbished in 2012 as part of a large project undertaken by Mears Ltd for a social housing landlord.

The Gloucester firm has been sentenced for safety failings after Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court heard (17 August) that two Gas Safe engineers called at the house in August 2013 to carry out a routine annual service of the gas appliances. The court was told that the engineers found the gas-powered warn air unit at the property had been left in a dangerous condition as a result of the refurbishment work carried out.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that essential combustion ventilation required for the gas power unit had been cladded over and the flue had been removed and the roof fitted over the top, leaving it to discharge into the loft.

The court was told that no blood tests had been taken from the elderly tenant, but it could not be ruled out that she was not exposed to significant carbon monoxide levels as she had suffered from numerous health problems in 2013.

Mears Ltd, of Montpellier Court, Gloucester Business Park, Brockworth, Gloucester, was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3587 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the case, HSE Inspector Caroline Bird, said:

“The risks from carbon monoxide poisoning are well known. It is clearly unacceptable to carry out any refurbishment work on a property that directly affects the safety of a gas appliance without first taking the necessary steps to ensure the appliance can be continued to be used safely.

In this case, they did not just make one error in removing the entirety of the combustion ventilation, they then went on to remove the flue terminal when replacing the roof, leaving the live flue terminal discharging dangerous products of combustion into the loft.

As principal contractors for this refurbishment project, Mears Ltd should have ensured the implications of any work were properly considered and managed. Mears Ltd’s failings put the lives of the tenant and roofers working on the site at risk.”

 

For more information about health and safety issues relating to gas, log onto the HSE website at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/index.htm

Statistics for Fatal Injuries in the Workplace

This is a summary for 2014/15 as provided by the Health and Safety Executive.  The information in this document relates to the latest ‘full-year’ statistics on fatal injuries in the workplace, for 2014/15.

The provisional figure for the number of workers fatally injured in 2014/15 is 142, and corresponds to a rate of fatal injury of 0.46 deaths per 100,000 workers.

  • The figure of 142 worker deaths in 2014/15 is 9% lower than the average for the past five years (156).
  • The latest rate of fatal injury of 0.46 compares to the five-year average rate of 0.53.
  • The finalised figure for 2013/14 is 136 worker fatalities, and corresponds to a rate of 0.45 deaths per 100,000 workers.
  • Over the latest 20-year time period there has been a downward trend in the rate of fatal injury, although more recently (since 2008/09) the trend is less clear.
  • There were 102 members of the public fatally injured in accidents connected to work in 2014/15 (excluding railways-related incidents).

Figure 1: Number and rate of fatal injury to workers (describing both Self Employed and Employed individuals), 1995/96 – 2014/15p
p = Provisional

r = Revised

 

Engineers Exposed to Asbestos at School

Flueclean, a Stockport heating engineering firm, were sentenced after two of its engineers were exposed to asbestos while working at a Manchester school.

Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard Flueclean were contracted to replace boilers in the boiler room of the school.  It was during this work that two of Flueclean’s gas engineers were exposed to asbestos as they took the side panels off boilers which had asbestos insulation on the boiler casing.

Flueclean Installations Services Limited Lytham Street Works, Shaw Heath, Stockport, Cheshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 6(1) and 11(1) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and was fined £4,000 for each breach with £3,517 costs.

HSE inspector Kevin Jones said after the hearing:

“Asbestos is the greatest cause of work related deaths in the UK with over 4,000 deaths arising from past exposure. Contractors have a duty to ensure they protect their workers from the risk of exposure to asbestos and must properly plan any work which is likely to disturb it.

In this case, Flueclean Installations Services Limited failed to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment which if they had would have clearly identified that the work should have been carried out by a licensed asbestos contractor. As a result of this failing, two of their operatives were exposed to asbestos.”

 

Quantum Comments

With regard to the prosecution of Flueclean, it can be seen that it is essential that systems are in place to ensure the safety and welfare of employees or contractors when carrying out maintenance or repair on equipment where there is a risk of asbestos being present. The above case shows that prosecutions involve heavy financial penalties when infringements are found to have taken place, but more importantly, the health and welfare of the person working on such equipment is unnecessarily put at risk where no systems are in place.

 

Where servicing or maintenance of machinery, plant or equipment where asbestos could be present is carried out, a robust and thorough protocol that includes an Asbestos Management Survey and an Asbestos Management Plan should be in place. Following a Management survey, samples will be sent for analysis and a comprehensive report completed which will include an Asbestos Register. Prior to any work being undertaken, the employee or contractor should have sight of this register where exact details of location, type of asbestos and appropriate actions to take will be recorded. An Asbestos Management Plan will detail all actions from discovery of asbestos to either disposal or making safe whichever is most appropriate. Should asbestos be found and left in place after necessary control measures have been put in place, an annual review of ACM’s should be carried out to ensure no further damage or deterioration has occurred whereby new remedial actions may need to be carried out.

 

The Management Survey and Management Plan will be the documentation that the HSE will require as a priority in the event of a contravention of the Control of Asbestos Regulations (2012). Bear in mind that if a prosecution is bought which involves an employee or contractor being diagnosed with either asbestosis or mesothelioma, severe penalties can and probably will be imposed in addition to the moral guilt of the individual contracting a terminal disease which would have been entirely preventable if the appropriate actions had been taken.

 

Quantum Compliance has trained consultants who are able to provide a comprehensive service, carrying out Asbestos Management surveys (including refurbishment and demolition surveys) and providing all appropriate documentation required under the Control of Asbestos regulations (2012).

Child Injured in Gate

A gate at a playpark designed for children under 11 years old has caused a child serious injury when two of the boys fingertips were severed as they were trapped in the gate.  Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council have been fined for safety failings.  The incident occurred on 20th August 2014 after the toddler had entered the park with his mother and three other children.

Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard how the two-year-old boy trapped his fingers in an external gate of the children’s play area at Springfield Park in Heywood, resulting in the injuries to his left hand.

The Health and Safety Executuive (HSE), prosecuting told the court

“…because of his age, it was not possible to ascertain exactly what happened, but it seems he was playing by the gate when one of the other children shut it, causing the hinges to close, and creating a guillotine effect which severed his fingertips.”

 

Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council of Smith Street, Rochdale, pleaded guilty to Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 on 3 July and were fined £13,000 plus full costs of £1,317.

The risk assessment in place at the time of the incident had only assessed the locking side of the gate and not the hinge side. The stopper mechanism on the gate had been removed and not replaced, some 12 to 18 months prior to the accident, and the hole it had left had been filled in by park staff. Despite several inspections of the play park by various different members of Rochdale Council staff, nobody noticed that the stopper had been removed, and so the risk remained.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Emily Osborne said:

“All of the children using Springfield Park are under 11 years of age, and Jacob at only two years old was particularly vulnerable.

Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council failed to make sure health and safety at the playpark met the minimum legal standards and put children visiting the play area at Springfield Park at risk over a long period of time. The risk of trapping fingers in the gate was not identified and no prior action was taken by the council to stop this from happening.

It is simply not good enough to not identify a serious risk and do nothing to prevent it. A guard should have been fitted over the dangerous part of the gate or the stopper should have been replaced. Instead, a two-year-old boy suffered injuries that are likely to affect him for life as a result of the council’s failings.”

 

 

Fire Risk Assessor Fined

 

May 2015 NEWSLETTER
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A Fire Risk Assessor is fined for advice given

Private fire risk assessor is prosecuted for failing to carry out a suitable assessment.

Craig Richard Stonelake had been contracted to carry out a fire risk assessment at a large restaurant in Newton Abbot.

An inspection of the premises by DSFRS found that the assessment was unsuitable as it did not take into account many factors that would seriously jeopardise peoples safety.

Find out what should have been identified in our full article.

London Fire Brigade comment on Care Home safety

All residential care homes should be fitted with sprinklers to reduce the number of fires.

New figures have been released showing stark statistics that prove the need for sprinklers to be installed to protect vulnerable people.

Myth-busting by the HSE

All tools on building sites need to be a maximum of 110V

The enquirer was tasked with carrying out sound insulation tests in houses on a construction site. The site manager asked him if his equipment was battery operated to which his reply was “no, it will need to be plugged into a 230V socket”. He asked if there was 230V power in the plots and the site manager said yes it was available but all “tools” on site need to run off a maximum of 110V as this was the company policy.

Read the Panel’s decision HERE.

Nappies not to be disposed of in sanitary bins

At a local party venue the enquirer saw a poster in the ladies toilet stating “Due to Health and Safety Law please do not put nappies in the sanitary bins. Please use the nappy bins provided”.

Read the Panel’s decision HERE.

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

From the TeamThis ‘Minimax’ fire extinguisher which dates back to the 1960’s was found by Ian Clint, one of Quantum’s Fire and Safety Consultants whilst carrying out a fire risk assessment at a client premises.

I think we can all agree that it was time for the client to replace this!!

 

Young employee’s arm is severed due to health and safety breach

A Nottinghamshire company has been fined after Mark Marshall, a 19-year-old employee severed most of his forearm whilst working.Read More

 
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