Sales Director’s Community order after fall of an apprentice

The sales director of a West Midlands roofing firm has been fined and handed a community order.  This comes after an untrained 18 year old apprentice sustained severe head, facial and back injuries after a fall of more than 6 meters through a fragile skylight on to a concrete floor.  The incident happened on 29th November 2016.

The  inexperienced apprentice was unfamiliar with the type of roof being repaired before and had not received any training for work near skylights. He was placed in an induced coma for three weeks and has not returned to work.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the apprentice was carrying out roof surveying work on a factory roof.  The contractors had failed to properly plan the roof work and did not supervise the trainee.

Steven Dickson, a senior manager and acting sales director of Adam Askey of Starley Way, Solihull, pleaded guilty to breaching s 37 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. He was given a community order that required him to do 200 hours’ unpaid work and to submit to an electronically-monitored curfew between 8pm and 6am for a period of four weeks starting immediately. Dickson was also ordered to pay £1,749 in costs.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching reg 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations at Coventry Magistrates’ Court on 13 December. The company was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £1,309 in costs.


Legionnaires’ disease outbreak

Five companies have denied Health and safety breaches relating to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Edinburgh, Scotland where four people died and a further 92 were infected during the outbreak in 2012.

The source of exposure is most likely to have been a cluster of cooling towers at a site on Wheatfield Road, Gorgie, and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) served four enforcement notices on three companies during its investigation.

It was however, never confirmed that the disease originated from any of these cooling towers and the Crown decided at the time not to prosecute.

Pharmaceutical research firm MacFarlan Smith was served two improvement notices to thoroughly clean one of its cooling towers and to provide access for inspection and maintenance. The National Museum of Scotland and North British Distillery were each served one improvement notice.

North British Distillery had failed to implement an effective biocide control programme in one of its cooling towers. The firm took all three cooling towers out of operation in response, though the notice only covered one.

Alistair Darling, who at the time was MP for Edinburgh South West, tabled questions in parliament that revealed the HSE had not visited the whisky distillery in the previous five years.

The new charges relate to the maintenance and cleaning of the cooling towers at the premises, which allegedly exposed people to the risk of Legionella between 2009 and 2013.

MacFarlan Smith and North British Distillery, along with chemicals wholesaler Ashland Industries, who also operated at the site, and legionella risk assessment service provider Pera Services and water management company Chemtech Consultancy, have all been charged under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

A date for the trial, which could last up to 12 weeks, has not been set.

Contractor and Retail Company fined over safety failings

Martin McColl Limited and JMS Retail Concepts Limited have both been sentenced on 22nd December 2017 9OLafter two members of the public tripped and fell over construction work outside a convenience store in Dinas Powys, Vale of Glamorgan.

It was heard at Cardiff Magistrates’ Court that during the three-day construction of a concrete disabled ramp in January 2016, two members of the public were injured whilst attempting to enter the store. On 12th January an elderly member of the public tripped over the construction work breaking her wrist, hitting her head and suffering severe bruising. The following day, the 13th January 2016 another elderly member of public fell from the partially constructed ramp breaking his collar bone and suffering severe bruising.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that construction work which was undertaken while the store was open, meant customers were required to walk through the construction site to enter and exit the store. It found that it would have been reasonably practicable to close the store during the construction of the ramp and install barriers and signs to prevent access by members of the public.

Martin McColl Limited of Ashwells Road, Brentwood, Essex pleaded guilty on the first day of a two day trial after initially pleading not guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and have been fined £600,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,520.

JMS Retail Concepts Limited of Stump Lane, Chorley, Lancashire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and have been fined £40,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,038.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Gemma Pavey said

“These incidents could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.

Commercial clients and companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”