NHS Foundation Trust fined over death of a patient

Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has been fined for health and safety failings after a patient, Adam Withers, fell to his death.

20 year old Adam Withers from Epsom had been detained as an in-patient at Epsom Hospital when the incident occurred on 9 May 2014.

Guildford Crown Court heard how Mr Withers was in the courtyard with his mother while being observed by a nurse from inside the ward when he started to climb up onto the conservatory roof.

The nurse immediately ran into the courtyard but was unable to prevent him climbing over the roof. He then climbed up a 130-foot industrial chimney and after attempts to talk him down failed, he fell and sustained fatal injuries.

An HSE investigation found a series of failures in identifying the risk associated with absconding and how this was properly managed.

There was insufficient communication between employees and inadequate systems to ensure the risks identified were addressed and remedied.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Russell Beckett, said:

“The Trust failed to make appropriate changes following previous incidents.  Had the Trust carried out a suitable assessment and made the appropriate changes they would not have allowed a vulnerable person the opportunity to end his life.”

Surrey and Borders partnership NHS Foundation Trust of Mole Business Park, Randalls Road, Leatherhead, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £16,769.00.

Joint call for deregulation halt after Grenfell Tower Fire

Leading safety bodies and practitioners have jointly called on the UK government to halt deregulation of safety and health legislation in light of the Grenfell Tower fire.

More than 70 leading organisations and figures from the UK’s safety and health profession, including IOSH, the British Safety Council and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, penned an open letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, asking her to “scrap the government’s approach to health and safety deregulation and think again”.

The group has also pressed the Government to complete its review of Part B of the Building Regulations 2010 – the regulations which cover fire safety in and around buildings in England – as a matter of urgency, and to focus on improving safety in the forthcoming parliament.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), International Institute of Risk & Safety Management (IIRSM), National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH), Trades Union Congress (TUC) and Unite the union have also backed the letter, alongside senior OSH professionals from organisations including Park Health and Safety, Skanska and Thames Water.

“We believe it is totally unacceptable for residents, members of the public and our emergency services to be exposed to this level of preventable risk in modern-day Britain,” the letter states.

“At this crucial time of national reflection and sorrow, we urge all politicians to re-emphasise the need for effective health and safety regulation and competent fire risk management. These are fundamental to saving lives and sustaining our communities.

We believe it is vital that this disaster marks a turning point for improved fire safety awareness and wider appreciation that good health and safety is an investment, not a cost.”

 

The fire at the 24-storey Grenfell Tower public housing block on 14 June gutted the majority of the building; 79 people are listed as dead or missing. Fire experts have drawn attention to the fact that part B of the Building Regulations 2010, has not been thoroughly reviewed since 2006, though most other parts of the regulations have been revised at two-yearly intervals.

In calling on the government to complete its review of Part B, the signatories add:

“Together, we offer our organisations’ support in undertaking the review – we all have valuable links to experts in this area who can advise on best regulatory outcomes. In the meantime, we welcome the government’s commitment to act and to implement the interim findings of the forthcoming public inquiry.

You have it in your power to remove immediately a further risk to people at work and outside of the workplace – unwise deregulation – which threatens public and worker safety.”

 

The letter has been posted on at the IOSH site where additional signatories are invited.

The full letter is as follows:

 

Dear Prime Minister,

There have, understandably, been strong public reactions to the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower and its tragic consequences – the largest civilian loss of life from a single event in the UK since the Hillsborough disaster.

The occupational safety and health community is deeply saddened and disturbed by the Grenfell Tower fire and all the lives it claimed. We believe it is totally unacceptable for residents, members of the public and our emergency services to be exposed to this level of preventable risk in modern-day Britain.

Central Government and the Kensington and Chelsea local authority share responsibility for building standards and their enforcement locally, as well as for the funding and management of the maintenance of social housing. These responsibilities must be backed up with good, essential regulations.

However, for many years, Ministers and others with influence over them have called for regulations, including in health and safety, to be axed as a matter of principle. Arbitrary rules were imposed to establish deregulation of health and safety, such as a requirement to abolish two health and safety regulations (and more recently, three) for any new one adopted.

This mind-set has meant that, even when it was recommended and accepted that mandatory fitting of sprinklers would make homes or schools safer, this was rejected in favour of non-regulatory action. In practice, this approach favours inaction.

Good, well-evidenced and proportionate regulations in health and safety, based on full consultation, are developed and adopted because they save lives and protect people’s health and wellbeing. They are not “burdens on business” but provide essential protection for the public from identifiable risks.

At this crucial time of national reflection and sorrow, we urge all politicians to re-emphasise the need for effective health and safety regulation and competent fire risk management. These are fundamental to saving lives and sustaining our communities.

We believe it is vital that this disaster marks a turning point for improved fire safety awareness and wider appreciation that good health and safety is an investment, not a cost.

We call on the Government to accelerate and confirm the timeframe for completing its review of Part B of The Building Regulations 2010 and to include a focus on improved safety in the forthcoming Parliament.

Together, we offer our organisations’ support in undertaking the review – we all have valuable links to experts in this area who can advise on best regulatory outcomes. In the meantime, we welcome the Government’s commitment to act and to implement the interim findings of the forthcoming public inquiry.

You have it in your power to remove immediately a further risk to people at work and outside of the workplace – unwise deregulation – which threatens public and worker safety.

We, leaders in health and safety in the UK, call on you to scrap the Government’s approach to health and safety deregulation and think again. This could be announced immediately, it does not need to await the results of a public inquiry, and is the least that the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire deserve.

Long awaited change of direction for Firefighters union

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is hoping the election result will mean the end to a round of cuts that would have cut fire and rescue service funding in half over the course of a decade.

Matt Wrack, General Secretary of the FBU, said:

“Millions of voters supported policies that just two years ago were condemned as fringe ideas – re-nationalising the railways, scrapping student debt, building new homes. Jeremy Corbyn has shifted the political debate decisively in favour of working class people by working towards what is fair and just. It seems that the Tory party’s austerity agenda may have had its day.

The Prime Minister called this election in the most cynical way, for the benefit of party interests alone. It has been an utter disaster, a gamble that has backfired. Millions have rejected the endless attacks on living standards and public services. People are sick of seeing their wages cut, facing a future where young people cannot get a decent job or a decent home. Theresa May now has no mandate to continue with the policy of endless cuts that put the safety and health of the public at risk.

Jeremy Corbyn’s personal rating has risen throughout the course of the election campaign, as has support for Labour, and there is now significant backing for the radical change offered by Labour’s policies under Corbyn. The FBU wholeheartedly welcomes the rapid change of direction that is needed to make our country a safer, fairer place. Our members are very proud of the fire and rescue service, but it now needs investment, not more decimating cuts.”

Death of a resident at a care home

An 87-year-old resident fell from her first floor window and died at a residential care home in Surrey.  Coppice Lea Nursing Home has been fined almost half a million pounds.

Guildford Crown Court heard that the tragic incident happened in the early hours of 3 October 2013 at Coppice Lea Nursing home in Surrey, which is owned and managed by Caring Homes Healthcare Group Limited.  The woman fell about four metres through her window.  She was reported missing at 1am and found two hours later. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

The HSE investigation found that the window restrictor in place, which normally prevents the window from opening fully, was easily overridden and therefore not fit for purpose.

Caring Homes Healthcare Group Limited of The Colchester Business Park, Essex, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £450,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,762.44.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Rebekah Dunn said:

“It was clear from our investigation that the window restrictor was simply not doing the job of preventing the window from opening. It is alarming, and tragic, that an 87-year-old woman with dementia was able to defeat it.

Caring Homes therefore failed to ensure the woman’s safety, which is particularly important given its unique position of trust. All windows that are large enough for people [to fit] through should be restrained sufficiently to prevent such falls. The 100mm benchmark should only be allowed to disengage using a special tool or key.”

Huge fire in London Residential Tower block

Police say it is known that six people have died and more than 50 are in hospital after a huge fire raged through the night in Grenfell Tower, North Kensington.  The 24-storey block, which is still not fully extinguished, looks at risk of collapsing.

So far, firefighters have rescued “large numbers”, but London Mayor Sadiq Khan said “a lot” of people were unaccounted for.

The first reports of fire in the tower, came in at 00:54 BST. Three hours later, people were still being evacuated from the tower, the police said.

Eyewitnesses accounts described people trapped in the burning Grenfell Tower, screaming for help and yelling for their children to be saved.  It’s also been accounted that eyewitnesses saw lights, thought to be rom mobile phones or torches, flashing from the top of the block of flats.  Trapped residents were also sen at windows, some holding children.

Eyewitness Jody Martin said:

“I watched one person falling out, I watched another woman holding her baby out the window… hearing screams. I was yelling at everyone to get down and they were saying ‘We can’t leave our apartments, the smoke is too bad on the corridors.'”

Paul Munakr, who lives on the seventh floor, managed to escape.

“As I was going down the stairs, there were firefighters, truly amazing firefighters that were actually going upstairs, to the fire, trying to get as many people out the building as possible,” he told the BBC.
He said he was alerted to the fire not by fire alarms but by people on the street below, shouting “don’t jump, don’t jump”.

Michael Paramaseevan, who lives on the seventh floor with his girlfriend and young daughter, said he ignored official advice to stay in your home.

“If we had stayed in that flat, we would’ve perished. My gut instinct told me just to get the girls out. I wrapped the little one up because of the smoke and I just got them out.”

 

Another resident, Zoe, who lives on the fourth floor, said she was woken by a neighbour banging on her door.

“The whole landing was thick with smoke. The smoke alarms weren’t going off but the way it spread so quickly from the fourth floor, all the way up to the 23rd floor was scary.”

 

Mayor Sadiq Khan told the BBC that Questions will need to be answered over the safety of tower blocks.  He also said he was devastated by the horrific scenes, attended by more than 250 firefighters and 100 ambulance medics.

“We can’t have a situation where people’s safety is put at risk because of bad advice being given or if it is the case, as has been alleged, of tower blocks not being properly serviced or maintained,” he said.

 

Matt Wrack, of the Fire Brigades Union said something had clearly gone badly wrong with fire prevention procedures at the building.  Firefighters would normally fight a fire in a tower block from the inside, going up the fire escape, and fighting using the internal dry-rising mains, he said, but that’s not been possible in this case.

The Met Police has set up an emergency number on 0800 0961 233 for anyone concerned about friends or family.

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said the cause of the fire was not yet known and it was too early to speculate on the building, although it was structurally safe enough for her crews to be working inside.
She urged all residents to make sure they had reported themselves to police so that the authorities know they are safe.

June 2017 – DSE and Associated Risks

 

June 2017 NEWSLETTER
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Do you want to understand how you can make simple changes to reduce these?
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Two family run companies sentenced over asbestos failings

Manchester Crown Court have fined two family run companies after admitting health and safety failings at a site in Manchester, where they were carrying out a basement conversion.

Myth-busting by the HSE

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

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”.
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IOSH Safety for Property Managers Course

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May 2017 – Principal contractor fined for safety failings

 

May 2017 NEWSLETTER
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Principal contractor fined for safety failings

Malik Contractors and Engineers Ltd has been fined for safety failings after complaints from the public.

The company were working at a site St John’s Way in Corringham, Essex in 2016 when concerned members of the public contacted the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Cuts are blamed for 15% increase in fire-related deaths

The Fire Brigades Union says its members are
increasingly angry about how they are being treated by the Government.
According to the union, the Government cuts are to blame for a rise in fire-related deaths in England last year. 

 

Have you downloaded our free Health and Safety Compliance App yet?

Easy access compliance tools and advice in real time.

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Myth-busting by the HSE

Supermarket deli refused to leave plastic wrapping on liver sausage stating that it was a ‘choking hazard’

 

Read the Panel’s decision HERE.

Store stopped providing customer with empty ‘tester’ perfume bottles to customer for 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

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Mesothelioma fund pays out £84m

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