Oxfordshire company fined for safety failings

Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court have fined an Oxfordshire based ground engineering company, known as Phi Group, after a worker contracted severe hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).

An employee was eventually diagnosed as suffering from HAVS after repeatedly flagging his symptoms to the company for over five years.

The investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company did not have the right system in place to manage the workers’ health as it did not have a suitable health surveillance programme in place to monitor for the early onset of HAVS and to prevent the irreversible condition from developing.

Keller Limited of Oxford Road, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Coventry, pled guilty to breaching Regulation 7(1) of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 and were fined £6,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,263.45.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Mehtaab Hamid said:

“This was a case of the company completely failing to grasp the importance of HAVS health surveillance.

If they had understood why health surveillance was necessary, it would have ensured that it had the right systems in place to monitor worker’s health and the employee’s condition would not have been allowed to develop to a severe and life altering stage”.

Workers Fatal Fall

A Manchester building contractor has been jailed following the death of a casual labourer who fell nearly seven metres through a fragile roof.

Saleem Hussain, the 45-year-old labourer from Manchester had been carrying out repair work at Witney Mill, Manchester when the incident occurred on 23 November 2013. He had been engaged by the warehouse owner, who believed him to be a competent building contractor, to carry out repair and maintenance work on the warehouse roof. He then hired two people to do the work.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that both workers had accessed the roof via a ladder in order to repair and seal leaking guttering.

No safety precautions were in place to protect the two men from the danger of falling through the fragile roof and they were not qualified to carry out work at height.  Manchester Crown Court understood that Mr Hussain failed to assess the risks or put a safe working method in place. No suitable training or equipment to work on the roof had been provided.

Saleem Hussain of Birchfields Road, Manchester pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was sentenced to 8 months immediate imprisonment.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Principal Inspector Mike Sebastian said:

”The dangers of falls through fragile roofs and working at height are well known. Simple steps such as removing the need to access the roof directly by using mobile working platforms, or boarding out the roof, or using safety harnesses, can and should be used to prevent accident and injury.

Mr Hussain’s failure to take any such actions resulted in a tragic and needless loss of life”.

February 2017 – Council not protecting workers health

 

February 2017 NEWSLETTER
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Council not protecting workers health

Thanet District Council has been fined £250,000 after a worker was left with permanent injuries

Canterbury Crown Court heard how a worker from Thanet District Council was diagnosed with suffering from hard arm vibration (HAV) after visiting his GP.

Symptoms of the condition can include tingling, pins and needles, numbness and pain in the hands. This affects sleep when it occurs at night and sufferers have difficulties in gripping and holding things, particularly small items such as screws, doing up buttons, writing and driving.

Network Rail safety failings

Network Rail has been fined £800,000 after a track worker was hit by a train travelling between 130 and 145 km/h on the main line between London and Brighton.

He survived but sustained multiple life-changing injuries.

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Myth-busting by the HSE

Employer stopped proving funds for alcoholic drinks at staff Christmas night out (offsite)

Employer stopped proving funds for alcoholic drinks at Christmas night out (offsite), citing health and safety.

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 Team

This months News Video!
Government proposals imprison killer drivers

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£10m paid out for school asbestos claims
A BBC Article discusses how Councils in England have paid out at least £10m in compensation to people who developed illnesses because of asbestos in school buildings.Click here to read the full article
 

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January 2017 – Government proposals to imprison Killer Drivers

January 2016 NEWSLETTER
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Government proposals to imprison Killer Drivers

Motorists who cause death by dangerous driving could be sentenced to life in prison under plans put forward by ministers.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has published a consultation (5th December), Driving offences and penalties relating to causing death or serious injury, on proposals that those who cause death by speeding, street racing or while using a mobile phone should face the same sentences as those charged with manslaughter.

Teacher died from Asbestos Exposure

A coroner has ruled that a former teacher, Sue Stephens, died after being exposed to asbestos in schools.

Sue Stephens, 68, worked as a teacher in Buckinghamshire for 30 years before retiring in 2008 to Crediton, Devon.  She was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, which can lie dormant for decades, in 2014 and died in June this year.

During the inquest, held at Exeter’s County Hall, the court heard that Sue had written a statement saying she recalled construction work being undertaken at another school and asbestos being removed by builders in the classrooms during lessons.

Myth-busting by the HSE

Council landlord bans use of mains extension lead on health and safety grounds

Local council bans tenant from using a mains extension lead from within his house, citing health and safety reasons.

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 Team

This months News Video!  You won’t want to miss this.

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Work related stress remains one of the top causes of sickness absence.  The Health and Safety Executive has published its latest Health and Safety at Work statistics for 2015-16:

Click to view key figures for Great Britain (2015/16)

 

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Worker Crushed

Newport Magistrates’ Court have fined a recycling firm after a worker suffered crush injuries from a roller shutter door.

The Recresco Limited employee was injured when the door’s roller barrel fell on him resulting in three cracked ribs and a damaged spleen, causing him to miss eight weeks of work.

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) investigation into the incident, which occurred on the 17 April 2015, found that none of the electronically operated roller shutter doors at the company’s site had been adequately maintained to keep the equipment safe.

Recresco Limited of Springvale Industrial Estate, Cwmbran have pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and have been fined £50,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9944.

Speaking after the case HSE inspector Lee Schilling said

“This case highlights the importance of regular pro-active maintenance and inspection of work equipment, including roller shutter doors, to ensure equipment does not deteriorate to the extent that it puts people at risk. In this case Recresco failed to effectively maintain their equipment and it could have easily resulted in a fatal injury.”

Poor Asbestos Safety Practices

Enviro-Safe Limited, a Midlands based firm have been fined for failing to meet the standards required when removing asbestos.

Birmingham Magistrates Court heard how the company failed to protect their employees from the spread of asbestos fibres during the removal work at separate projects. The company had failed to protect their workers and exposed them to the risk of developing a form of cancer related to asbestos.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Enviro-Safe Limited failed to adequately assess the risk involved with the removal of asbestos material and as a result exposed its employees and others to asbestos. This risk would have been prevented by the use of enclosures which would have protected the workers from risk of asbestos fibres.

Speaking after the case HSE inspector Amy Kalay said

“Exposure to asbestos fibres is extremely dangerous to people’s health and the company had a total disregard for this when they failed to prevent the risk to their employees.”

Envrio-Safe Limited of Stratford Street North, Birmingham pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 16 Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and have been fined £16,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7731.13

For more information on Asbestos please visit Asbestos Information

 

Construction Director imprisoned after young worker suffers burns

The director of a construction company, David Gordon Stead, has been imprisoned for eight months after failing to take appropriate action which resulted in a young worker receiving serious burns.

Cardiff Crown Court heard the young worker was instructed to stand on top of a skip and pour a drum of flammable thinners onto the burning waste to help it to burn. The fireball that resulted when the thinners ignited caused the worker to be blown from the skip and he suffered substantial burns to his arms and legs.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company director did not ensure the burning of the waste material was being carried out in a safe or appropriate manner. He failed to administer any first aid to the young injured worker and did not send him to hospital, the most appropriate response given the severity of the injuries suffered. He failed to inform HSE of the incident, a legal requirement, and the incident was only reported sometime later by a third party

“We hope this sentence sends out a message that directors of businesses must take their health and safety responsibilities seriously.”

David Gordon Stead of Mildred Street, Beddau, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and also pled guilty to breaching Section 4 (1) of The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) and was sentenced to 32 weeks imprisonment, half on release under licence. He has also been disqualified from being a company director for seven years.

Speaking after the case HSE inspector Adele Davies said “David Stead failed his employees. His actions could have resulted in the death of this worker. The young man suffered unnecessary life threatening injuries due to poor working standards.

“We hope this sentence sends out a message that directors of businesses must take their health and safety responsibilities seriously.”

Pane of glass falls 200ft from city centre apartment block

An investigation has been launched after a pane of glass tumbled more than 200ft from a busy city centre apartment block.

The glass sheet toppled from a top floor apartment on Saturday afternoon at Islington Wharf, in Great Ancoats Street, as high winds and rain battered the city centre.  No-one was hurt by the shattered pane – but shocked residents fear it could have resulted in a fatality.

Residents say it is just a ‘matter of time’ before it happens again.  They claim that panes of glass in the block have cracked on three previous occasions, but that this is the first time that one has fallen out right to the ground.

They believe the incident, which happened on the 19th floor of the 20 storey building, was caused by a combination of high winds and temperature problems inside the block.  The window has since been boarded up, and the developer has launched an investigation.

One resident was quoted

“It’s only a matter of time before it happens again, and it’s a miracle no-one was killed.  It is just lucky that the weather was bad, because lots of people would have been sitting outside at Vivid who could have been hurt. There was lots of glass.

The big selling point of the apartments is that the big glass windows allow for great views of the city centre, so it is worrying.”

 

Nigel Franklin, director of Waterside Places, said:

“The matter was immediately attended to by our managing agents and the area made safe.

We have also informed the original contractor, Laing O’Rourke, who undertook the original building and window installation and we are undertaking a full investigation with them as to what caused the breakage.

We will share with the residents the findings of this investigation and any recommendations which arise in relation to maintenance of the building façade.”

 

This is not the first time the brand new site has broken fire safety rules.  Residents at Islington Wharf Mews, a nearby apartment block run by the same developer, had to move out of the brand new site because it broke fire safety rules.