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.”
Signature Flight Support, a company that handles private jets at London Luton Airport in Bedfordshire has been sentenced after an employee was crushed by a hangar door.
Suzi Dorbon, 47, an aircraft mover, became trapped between two sections of a door as she prepared to move aircraft inside Hangar 219 on 28 April 2015. Her severe crush injuries caused brain damage and she remains in a vegetative state at the Marbrook Centre in St Neots, Cambridgeshire, St Albans Crown Court was told.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation concluded that the company had failed to adequately plan the aircraft movement and had not provided its staff with proper training or written instructions.
According to an ITV report, Signature gave staff short training sessions on how to operate the hangar’s doors after they were fitted in April 2014. However, the risk assessment had not identified the possibility of being crushed by the doors.
Judge Andrew Bright said:
“In particular, staff were not told of a specific distance to stand back from the doors when operating them, nor were they provided with any follow-up or refresher training.”
He added that proper supervision and monitoring would have made it “apparent that the ways in which some employees were moving the doors were unsafe and that the staff needed to be provided with further training and instruction to prevent unsafe methods of work from becoming commonplace”.
It was only after the accident that the company painted yellow markings on the floor to keep employees away from the hangar doors, increased the number of warning signs in the area, introduced a new guidebook on how to open and close the hangar doors safely, provided staff with refresher training, and regularly reviewed its closed circuit television footage to monitor the doors’ use.
Signature Flight Support pleaded guilty to breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. It was handed a £250,000 penalty and ordered to pay costs of almost £20,000 within 28 days.
After the hearing HSE inspector Andrew McGill said:
“The injured person’s family has been left devastated after this incident. Her husband gave up work to care for her daily and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
If a safe system of work had been in place prior to this incident, it could have prevented the life-changing injuries sustained by the employee.”
Mike Robinson, chief executive of the British Safety Council, has announced the appointment of health and safety campaigner Lawrence Waterman, as the new chairman of the organisation.
Lynda Armstrong OBE, the current chair of the British Safety Council who has held the position since October 2010, will retire on 24 November 2017 after seven years in the post.
Lawrence Waterman OBE CFIOSH was formerly head of health and safety at the London Olympic Delivery Authority and the Battersea Power Station development, a past president of IOSH, a visiting professor at Loughborough University, and is a founding partner at the Park Health and Safety Partnership.
He was appointed OBE for services to health and safety in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Honours.
During a school refurbishment in Waltham Forest, workers were exposed to asbestos. Three companies have been fined a total of more than £1m.
During the refurbishment of St Mary’s School, on 24 July 2012 a worker removed part of a suspended ceiling in one of the ground floor rooms and identified suspect asbestos containing materials. Asbestos fibres were subsequently found in numerous areas in the school.
Southwark Crown Court heard that the London Borough of Waltham Forest had a contract with NPS London Limited to manage development and refurbishment of its estate. At the time of the incident the Principal Contractor for the work was Mansell Construction Services (aka Balfour Beatty) and the subcontractor was Squibb Group Limited.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that although an asbestos survey was completed, there were multiple caveats and disclaimers which were not appropriately checked.
Balfour Beatty Regional Construction Limited (previously Mansell Construction Services Limited) of Canary Wharf, London was fined £500,000 and ordered to pay costs of £32,364.84 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
NPS London Limited, of Business Park Norwich, Norfolk was fined £370,000 and ordered to pay £32,364.84 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Squibb Group Limited, of Stanford Le Hope, Essex was fined £400,000 and ordered to pay costs of £175,000 after being found guilty after a trial of a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Sarah Robinson said:
“The principal contractor and contractors on site did not review the survey report in detail, and did not take into consideration the multitude of caveats.
Therefore the work undertaken did not adopt the high standards of control expected for working where there was the potential to expose workers to asbestos.”
Three companies that were established to support the Crossrail tunnel construction have been fined a total of more than £1m following three separate incidents on the project, including the death of a worker.
The incidents were heard at Southwark Crown Court.
Renè Tkáčik, 43 from Slovakia, died after being crushed by falling wet concrete on 7 March 2014. He was working in a team that were enlarging the tunnel by removing rings of the existing pilot tunnel and spraying walls with liquid concrete. During this operation, a section of the roof collapsed, fatally crushing him.
Two other men were injured following separate incidents within six days of one another, on 16 and 22 January 2015. All three incidents took place in the tunnels around the Fisher Street area.
On 16 January 2015 Terence ‘Ian’ Hughes was collecting some equipment from inside one of the tunnels when he was struck by a reversing excavator. He suffered severe fractures to his right leg and crush injuries to his left knee and shin.
Six days later worker Alex Vizitiu, who was part of a team tasked with spraying liquid concrete lining, was assisting with the cleaning of the pipes that supply the concrete. Due to a lack of communication one of the lines was disconnected and he was hit by pressurised water and concrete debris. He suffered head and hip injuries as well as a broken finger and was hospitalised for six days.
The three workers were operating under Bam Ferrovial Kier (BFK), an unincorporated joint venture made up of three companies; BAM Nuttall Limited, Ferrovial Agroman (UK) Limited and Kier Infrastructure and Overseas Ltd.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found a failure to provide a safe system of work relating to the operations Renè Tkáčik and Alex Vizitiu were working on. It was also found there was a failure to properly maintain the excavator which reversed into Ian Hughes.
On all three occasions, the investigation found a failure to properly enforce exclusion zones that would have helped protect workers from foreseeable harm.
Bam Ferrovial Keir, of the corner of Charterhouse Street and Farringdon Road, London has pleaded guilty to three offences. In relation to the death of Renè Tkáčik, it has admitted to breaching Regulation 10(2) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It has today been fined £300,000 in relation to this offence.
BFK has pleaded guilty to two separate breaches of Section 22 (1a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, relating to the two incidents in January 2015. The joint venture has been fined a £600,000 for the incident involving Ian Hughes on 16 January, and £165,000 for the incident relating to Alex Vizitiu on 22 January.
The total fine is therefore £1,065,000. The defendant was also ordered to pay costs of £42,337.28.
HSE Head of Operations Annette Hall said:
“The omission to implement exclusion zones in a high hazard environment was a consistent failure in this case. Had simple measures such as these been taken, all three incidents could have been prevented, and Renè Tkáčik may not have died.
We believe every person should be healthy and safe at work. Here, all three workers were taking part in one of the most important and challenging infrastructure projects of the decade. It was this joint venture’s duty to protect its dedicated and highly-skilled workforce. On these three occasions, BFK failed in its duty, with tragic consequences for Renè Tkáčik and his family.”