Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court heard how Charter Housing Association Ltd. reported six cases of HAVS following a health surveillance programme launched in June 2015. The affected employees were all part of the maintenance team for this programme.
Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is a serious and permanent condition caused by regular and frequent exposure to hand-arm vibration. HAVS results in tingling, numbness, pain and loss of strength in the hands which may affect the ability to do work safely and cause pain, distress and sleep disturbance.
An investigation by The Health and Safety Executive’s found the six workers’ conditions were likely to have been caused or worsened by the use of vibratory power tools while in Charter Housing’s employment. It was also found that staff in the maintenance and refurbishment departments at Charter Housing experienced significant exposure to hand arm vibration in their daily work which put them at risk of developing or exacerbating existing HAVS.
The investigation also revealed that the company:
- neither adequately planned its working methods nor trained or informed employees on the risks to their health
- did not limit the duration and magnitude of exposure to vibration
- failed to put in place suitable health surveillance to identify problems at an early stage.
Charter Housing Association Ltd (now part of Pobl Group Ltd) of High Street, Newport pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005. The company was fined £100,000 and was ordered to pay costs of £9,896.88.
Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Joanne Carter said:
“An individuals’ health should not be made worse by the work they do. If Charter Housing had correctly implemented its health surveillance earlier, it would have ensured the right systems were in place to monitor workers’ health. The six affected employees’ conditions may have been prevented from developing or developing to a more severe stage.
How people work today can affect their health and wellbeing tomorrow. This case serves as an important reminder of the necessity of task based risk assessments to establish the level of exposure, control measures to reduce that exposure to as low as is reasonably practicable and effective health surveillance systems. In the case of Charter Housing this realisation came too late.
All employers need to do the right thing to protect workers’ health.”
After the death of an 85 year old pensioner at Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton the Heath and Safety Executive, Sussex Police, the NHS and the Care Quality Commission are all investigating.
At the opening of an inquest into Joan Blaber’s death, the police announced that 75 people had already been interviewed about the incident.
According to an account from someone interviewed, she drank bleach. It was in a drinks jug near to her hospital bed, where she had been receiving treatment after suffering a stroke in August and treatment for leg ulcers.
National papers have reported that a union source has claimed a member of the hospital’s staff mistook the liquid for orange and poured a glass for Blaber. She subsequently suffered a heart attack and died six days later.
A pathology test has been undertaken and the coroner is yet to announce the official cause of death.
In a statement, Blaber’s family said:
“It is hoped the inquest will lead to a thorough investigation into the circumstances of what happened, and an explanation as to how such a tragic mistake can have occurred in modern-day healthcare, which the family believe resulted in Joan’s premature death.”
Detective Inspector Julie Wakeford, of Sussex Police, said that ten people from the ward that Blaber was located on were still to be questioned.
“We have been making contact with a number of staff at the hospital – 75 so far.”
The managing director and former operations director of a recycling firm have been handed prison sentences and the company fined £800,000 after failing to prevent an operative from being drawn into a conveyor, along the line through a trommel and into an industrial waste shredder.
Latvian Karlis Pavasars was an agency worker working for Mid-UK Recycling at the firm’s Barkston Heath site near Ancaster in Lincolnshire when the incident happened on 19 July 2013. He was cleaning near a conveyor that fed the shredder when the recycling line was started up and he was drawn in.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigators found that the fixed gate that prevented access to the conveyor had been removed weeks before the incident, allowing workers free access to the area. Managers were aware that the gate was not in place a few days before the incident.
An inquest on 10 July 2015 ruled the incident accidental. Mr Pavasars was identified by DNA from his toothbrush after parts of his body were found in the shredding machine. The HSE inspector at the time of the inquest, Dr Dominic Swan, said the death was due to a lack of guarding around the conveyor.
“Other contributory factors were the lack of control and management of personnel in the shed, poor risk assessments, lack of procedures for undertaking maintenance, cleaning and clearing of blockages and lack of supervision of personnel,” he told the inquest.
Mid-UK Recycling, which specialises in producing fuel for energy-from-waste plants, pleaded guilty at Nottingham Crown Court to breaching ss 3(1) and 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. It was fined £800,000 and ordered to pay £100,000 in costs.
Managing director Christopher Mountain pleaded guilty to breaching s 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act. He was given a 20-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, and fined £50,000.
Former operations director Alan Munson pleaded guilty to the same charge under the act. He was also given a 20-week prison sentence, suspended for two years.
“We have recognised that while we thought our processes were rigorous, there were clearly gaps in our systems which allowed this to happen.”
The firm said that since 2013 it has invested heavily in improving its systems. It has employed a full-time OSH manager, as well as a director with responsibility for safety and health. Last year, it said it had achieved OHSAS 18001 accreditation and all its managers have received the IOSH Managing Safely training.
The company added that it has introduced a new traffic management system and safety walking routes for pedestrians. It also carries out regular internal audits and spots checks, and has employed an external auditor to carry out reviews.
The demolition company, Evans and Sons Limited and its director have been sentenced after a worker suffered crush injuries when his arms were trapped between two 10 tonne steel girders in an incident which occurred in October 2015.
Liverpool Crown Court heard how an employee was injured when the managing director, who was operating machinery to stack the girders, dropped one of the girders onto the employee’s arms, resulting in amputation to the left arm and right hand
The HSE stated:
If the company and its director had taken basic steps to decide how to do this routine task, and what control measures to use, they could have prevented this devastating incident resulting in an employee suffering life-changing injuries.
The HSE’s investigation found the company failed to apply appropriate control measures including ensuring the right equipment was used for the task. The managing director, Samuel Evans, was directly involved in the incident and found personally responsible for both the choice in equipment and the manner in which the task was performed.
Evans and Sons Limited of Ditton Road, Widnes pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and Regulation 4(3) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company has been fined £150,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9,523.04
Company director, Samuel Evans, pleaded guilty to breaching two counts of Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, in relation to the company’s failing of Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and Regulation 4(3) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
Evans was sentenced to ten months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years and ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.
Commenting after the hearing, HSE inspector Rohan Lye said: “If the company and its director had taken basic steps to decide how to do this routine task, and what control measures to use, they could have prevented this devastating incident resulting in an employee suffering life-changing injuries.”
Boundary Scaffolding Limited, a Swindon-based scaffolding company and its director have been sentenced after a worker was left with life-changing injuries when a structure he was erecting came into contact with overhead power lines.
It was heard at Swindon Magistrates’ Court that the scaffolding hit the 33KV overhead power lines on 19 December 2016.
A father of five working on the scaffolding received an electric shock which led to the amputation of his left arm above the elbow, right arm below the elbow and both of his feet. The 32-year-old father also suffered severe burns to his legs and back, damage to his vocal chords, and was in an induced coma for six weeks.
The HSE’s investigated. It was found that the scaffolding should not have been built to that height so close to overhead power lines. There was no safe system of work in place for erecting a scaffold under overhead power lines.
Boundary Scaffolding Limited, of Unit 10 Kendrick Industrial Estate Swindon SN2 2DU, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £1,415.10.
Company director Jonathon Lee Griffith-Clack, of 12 Grosmont Drive, Swindon, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 as well as Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to repay costs of £1,545.30.
HSE inspector Ian Whittles commented:
“This incident could have been prevented had the company and its director properly planned a safe system of work and ensured the scaffolding was erected in line with HSE regulations. Due to their failings, a young father of five has been left with life-changing injuries and the lives of an entire family have been changed forever.”
In a statement the injured man Jamie Mines said:
“I can’t quite put into words how it feels to wake up with no hands. I had five-month-old twin girls at the time of the accident, all I could think of when I woke up was the things I wouldn’t be able to do, for example I wouldn’t be able to hold my babies’ hands again, I wouldn’t be able to draw, play catch or teach my girls any of the things that I had learned with my hands.
There’s so many things I can’t do it’s hard to imagine, but to never feel anything with my hands again is what I struggle with the most.
Sitting here now in my wheelchair nine months after the accident and I still don’t walk, for a man who was very active before the accident, it has been extremely difficult! I was a keen a sportsman as well as someone who enjoyed his job and was really hands on with my babies. How my life has changed is almost indescribable.”
Multiple failures at a recycling firm, Monoworld Recycling, have resulted in fines of £100k after Northampton Crown Court heard of their ‘haphazard approach’ to business risk, breaching numerous regulations.
After several visits from the Health & Safety Executive, a total of 15 enforcement notices were served on the company and three served on each of the two company directors, in less than two years.
The notices covered a range of topics including work at height, work equipment and electrical matters.
The Executive found Monoworld failed to manage risks when its staff worked at height, maintain work equipment and control risks from electrical systems.
The HSE also discovered employees were instructed to carry out work at height even after a Prohibition Notice was served and staff felt pressurised to complete their work even when they had raised concerns about their safety. It was also discovered that fork lift trucks were left with broken lights and windscreen wipers, causing visibility issues for drivers’. Emergency stop buttons on machinery were marked as broken but not repaired over a long period of time.
Monoworld Recycling Ltd of Irchester Road, Northamptonshire pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, Regulation 5(1) of the Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and Regulation 4(1) of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 and has been fined £83,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,000.
Mr Dhanesh Ruparelia of Irchester Road, Northamptonshire pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and Section 33(1) (a) of Section 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was sentenced to 26 weeks imprisonment suspended for 12 months, he has also been fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,000.
Mr Nimaye Ruparelia of Irchester Road, Northamptonshire pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and Section 33(1)(a) by virtue of Section 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and has been ordered to complete 150 hours community order as well as being fined £7,500 and ordered to pay £7,000 in costs.
Speaking after the case HSE inspector Neil Ward said:
“The Company’s failings in this case have put their workers at risk from serious personal injury. It was clear the overall approach to business risk was haphazard at best, with a culture of negligence, for which the two directors were ultimately responsible.
The HSE took proactive action, throughout its dealings with Monoworld, and tried to work with the company when concerns were first raised.”
Duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people
Those responsible for managing communal areas of commercial properties must take positive steps to remove the barriers disabled people may face. This is to ensure disabled people receive the same services, as far as this is possible, as someone who’s not disabled. The Equality Act 2010 calls this the duty to make reasonable adjustments.
What’s meant by the duty to make reasonable adjustments?
The Equality Act 2010 says changes or adjustments should be made to ensure disabled people can access goods and services.
What’s meant by reasonable?
Adjustments only have to be made if it’s reasonable to do so. What’s a reasonable thing to ask for depends on things like:
- an individual’s disability
- how practicable the changes are
- if the change asked for would overcome the disadvantage disabled people experience
- the size of the organisation
- how much money and resources are available
- the cost of making the changes
- if any changes have already been made.
What do organisations have to do?
There are three different things organisations may have to do make it easier for disabled people to access properties.
1. Change the way things are done
Some organisations may have a certain way of doing things which makes it more difficult for disabled people to access. This could be a formal or informal policy, a rule or a practice. It could also be a one-off decision. The Equality Act calls this a provision, criterion or practice.The organisation should change these things if they are a barrier for disabled people, unless it’s unreasonable to do so.
2. Change a physical feature
Sometimes a physical feature of a building or other premises may make it more difficult for disabled people to access or use it.
Here are examples of physical features which it might be possible to change:
- steps and stairs
- passageways and paths
- entrances and exits
- internal and external doors
- lighting and ventilation
- the size of premises.
The kind of adjustments which could be made includes removing, changing or providing a way of avoiding the physical feature, where it’s reasonable to do so.
Here are examples of reasonable adjustments:
- providing ramps and stairway lifts
- making doorways wider
- installing automatic doors
- providing more lighting and clearer signs.
3. Provide extra aids or services
Sometimes disabled people may need particular aids or equipment to help them access or do something. Or disabled people may need additional services. The Equality Act calls this auxiliary aids and services.
Here are examples of auxiliary aids and services which could be provided to help disabled people:
- a portable induction loop for people with hearing aids
- BSL interpreters
- providing information in alternative formats, such as Braille or audio CD’s extra staff assistance.
When do organisations have to do these things?
The Equality Act says there’s a duty to make reasonable adjustments if disabled people are placed at a substantial disadvantage because of their disability compared to non-disabled people or people who don’t share the disability. Substantial means more than minor or trivial.
A roofing contractor, C Smith Roofing has been sentenced for safety breaches after workers were left at risk of falling from unprotected roof edges.
The failures were discovered by health and safety staff who could see unsafe scaffolding from their office window.
Leeds Crown Court heard that in November 2015 Mr Smith was contracted to carry out some roof repairs to a Guest House roof in Northallerton. Scaffolding was erected along the full length of the roof at the front of the property.
The presence of a conservatory structure at the rear meant that the company only erected a partial scaffold. It did not take the conservatory into account, which left approximately two thirds of the rear roof edge unprotected.
In February 2016, nearby health and safety risk managers at North Yorkshire County Council could see the project from their office window and had concerns about the safety of the two workers on a roof where there were inadequate fall protection measures in place such as scaffolding.
Two operatives working under the control of Mr Smith were at risk of falling approximately seven metres from the unprotected edge of the roof at the rear of the property.
Mr Smith was given an eight-month prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered to complete 200 hours of community service.
Chris Smith from North Yorkshire pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6 (3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. As well as his suspended prison sentence and unpaid work requirement, he was also ordered to pay £5800 costs.
After the hearing, Health and Safety Executive inspector Tania Shiffer commented:
“Work at height, such as roof work, is a high-risk activity that accounts for a high proportion of workplace serious injuries and fatalities each year.
There were not suitable or sufficient measures in place to prevent the risk of a person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury.
This is a good example of HSE working closely with local authority partners, helping Great Britain work well.”
A Hull-based bakery, Greencore Grocery Ltd has been ordered to pay a fine of £1million after a self-employed contractor died when he fell from a stepladder.
Hull Crown Court heard that the worker was contracted to complete electrical work at the Hull site in October 2013. Whilst wiring a motor situated above a machine, the contractor was standing on a stepladder. Greencore Grocery Ltd agreed this work activity could be completed using a stepladder, which it had provided. The contractor fell from the stepladder and suffered fatal injuries.
An investigation held by the Health and Safety Executive found that Greencore failed to properly plan the activity from the beginning including access arrangements to be made for installation of motors to use to carry out this work activity.
Greencore Grocery Ltd of Apex Park, Amsterdam Road, Sutton Fields Industrial Estate Hull, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
The company was fined £1million and ordered to pay costs of £30,000.
Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Denise Fotheringham said:
“Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work related fatalities in Great Britain, the risks associated with working at height are well known.
Work at height regulations require that all work at height is properly planned and appropriate access is provided. If Greencore had carried this out this death could have been prevented.
Thomas Panels & Profiles Limited, a manufacturer of steel building components based in Leominster has been fined after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The investigation found that a piece of equipment was missing the necessary safeguards to prevent crushing injuries. As a result, a worker was fatally crushed.
Worcester Crown Court heard how Mr Jeffery Warner, 65, an employee of Thomas Panels & Profiles Limited was fatally crushed when a steel beam emerging from a machine pushed another beam and crushed him against a closed door.
The incident occurred on the 27 April 2015. An investigation found the machine had been in operation since 2013 and it did not have suitable safeguards to prevent the risk of crushing injuries. It also found that the company failed to undertake an adequate risk assessment and its system of work was generally unsafe.
Thomas Panels & Profiles Limited of Southern Avenue, Leominster pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £285,000 with costs of £29,961.48.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Tariq Khan said:
“Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary safeguards, information, instruction and training to their workers.
This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the company to undertake a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and provide the necessary safeguards.”
Mr Warner’s family said:
“On 27 April 2015, society lost an amazing person. Jeffery Warner was a loving father, grandfather, son, brother, uncle and a friend. Not a day goes by when he is not in our thoughts and we find it very difficult on a daily basis not to pick up the phone to talk to him or ask him a question.
He was so skilful and his knowledge was exceptional. The past two years have been very emotional and we all miss him dearly.”