Three directors jailed for health and safety offences. Three company directors have been jailed following the death of a worker who fell while working on a roof at a warehouse in Essex.
An employee of Koseoglu Metalworks Ltd (NV, aged 63) died in hospital after falling through the roof of a warehouse in Harlow in April 2015. At the hearing at Chelmsford Crown Court, Koseoglu Metalworks Ltd admitted an offence of corporate manslaughter and its sole director, Kadir Kose, admitted an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA).
Ozdil Investments Ltd denied corporate manslaughter and a HSWA offence but was convicted following a trial at Chelmsford Crown Court. Two of its directors, Firat Ozdil and Ozgur Ozdil, were convicted of a HSWA offence and were jailed for twelve months and ten months. Kose was jailed for eight months.
Workers exposed to asbestos – all persons who have control of the repair and maintenance of non-domestic premises need to ensure that the correct control measures are put in place to prevent exposure to asbestos, so far as is reasonably practicable (based on Section 4 of the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974).
Two Essex-based companies have been fined after workers were exposed to potentially deadly asbestos over a period of years, despite being alerted to the risks at their premises. Basildon Crown Court heard that asbestos was found in poor condition when Connect Packaging Ltd moved into industrial units in 2007, but that the company failed to act to control risk. As a result, its employees were exposed to risk from airborne asbestos fibres. When Connect Packaging Ltd moved out of the units in January 2009, it sublet them to Creo Retail Marketing Ltd, another company within its group, but continued to exercise some control over maintenance and repair work at the premises.
Demolition contractor imprisoned after admitting illegally removing asbestos from a building he was working on. David William Briggs, trading as Briggs Demolition was found to have ignored an asbestos survey while demolishing the former Oakbank Training Centre in Chadderton, Oldham. Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard also failed to prevent exposure to asbestos to workers and others on the site. The firm advised the site owners to have the site surveyed for asbestos before demolition could begin, and recommended a suitable surveyor. The site owner paid for a full asbestos survey to be carried out following this recommendation.
“This tragic accident was preventable had all parties considered the risks involved and taken appropriate measures to reduce that risk” - too often, comments like this are made after a serious injury or a fatality. This does not diminish the truth of the statement, but it does underline a serious problem: people often don’t do the thinking (and the joining up of the thinking) in advance. Take a look at the recent case below:
ATE Truck and Trailer Sales Ltd, a company that buys, refurbishes and sells Heavy Goods Vehicles and trailers has been sentenced following the death of 63-year-old worker WP (who was a self-employed contractor). Wolverhampton Crown Court heard that on 21 February 2013 WP suffered fatal head injuries when he was struck by the roof of a trailer he was dismantling at the Marston Industrial Estate site. The investigation by the HSE found that ATE had undertaken this task before by its own employees and had an established method in place. ATE, however, failed to properly consider the risks involved in this work and did not provide WP with information in relation to his safety when ‘stripping down’ the trailers.
ATE Truck and Trailer Services Ltd of Boundary Industrial Estate, Stafford Road, Wolverhampton pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The company has fined £475,000 and ordered to pay costs of £20,000.
Want to avoid another case of “ tragic accident was preventable”?
- Do the risk assessment (before the task)
- Share the risk assessment
- Monitor what actually happens
It is well established that drivers should pay attention to what they are doing. With respect to mobile phones, penalties for drivers who use their mobile phone while driving doubled on 01 March 2017.
The penalty for a driver caught using their phone has recently increased to six points on their licence and a fine of £200. This news has been welcomed by the Freight Transport Association.
Drivers can have their licence revoked if they accrue six points within two years of passing their test. Those caught using their mobile twice, or who accrue 12 points on their licence, will face magistrates’ court, disqualification and fines of up to £1,000
Brexit – the British exit from the European Union. What effect will this have on Health and Safety Law in the UK? Brexit Health and Safety - it is unlikely to lead to rapid major changes.
Image created by Starline – Freepik.com
To provide legal continuity, the government will prepare a Great Repeal Bill while it negotiates Brexit with Europe. In the February Brexit white paper, it was stated that this will “remove the European Communities Act 1972 from the statute book and convert the ‘acquis’ – the body of existing EU law – into domestic law”.
The oil and gas industry around the world has been responsible for many serious incidents of fire and explosion, some of which have claimed lives and some of which has resulted only in property damage. Start up is a notoriously dangerous time in the process safety of the plant. In this case, Liverpool Crown Court was told that during the start-up of the main distillation unit, highly flammable hydrocarbons entered an unused furnace. Heat from another furnace triggered the blast, which started several fires that the fire service had to bring under control. Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident, which happened in November 2013. The incident caused more than £20m worth of damage, including collapsed internal structures.
The explosion was reported to the EU as a major accident under schedule 7 of the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations 1999. The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) investigation found that Essar had incorrectly installed a safety critical valve and had failed to properly validate its operation. The installation of a new safety-critical trip was also inadequately assessed by Essar as it did not note the system had a bypass line which defeated the trip’s operation. Though the company’s policy was to isolate main fuel lines to the furnace, a secondary fuel line had not been isolated during the shutdown. This allowed the hydrocarbons to enter the furnace, the HSE said.
A recent case demonstrates that control measures need to be managed. Control measures are things that we identify in risk assessments and procedures that are intended to keep people safe. If control measures are not adhered to (ignored, or people not being aware of them) them people are not being kept safe, and they may be harmed. Part of good health and safety management is to identify the appropriate control measures (such as through risk assessment), communicate the findings to relevant people (such as those working in the area), and then monitor the use and effectiveness of the control measures.
In this Dublin-based case, a driver (JM) was employed by a logistics company and was collecting packages at an Aer Lingus cargo warehouse at the airport in November 2014. He fell from a loading bay and died some days later from the resulting head trauma. The court heard that the airline failed to apply its own procedure, which required drivers to enter and leave the warehouse via stairs and a doorway adjacent to the loading bay.
Aer Lingus pleaded guilty to an offence under s 12 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and was fined €250,000 (£213,000).
The failure to manage flammable liquids properly resulted in a serious fire at a distillery. The spirits division of a chemical distributor was fined £270,000 for Health and Safety at Work Act breaches after an employee was engulfed in flames when a fire broke out at its distillery in Oldbury, West Midlands.
In August 2016, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard how the 21-year-old Alcohols Limited worker was transferring ethyl acetate (a highly flammable solvent) from a bulk storage tank to an intermediate bulk container in November 2012. According to the HSE, it is thought that an electrostatic discharge generated during the transfer process started the fire. As a result of the blaze, the worker sustained 20% burns to his head, neck and hands. The fire destroyed the warehouse and damaged nearby houses and cars before West Mercia Fire and Rescue Services could bring it under control.
A recycling company has been fined £160,000 for a cardboard storage injury arising from a bale crush event. The Smethwick-based firm, Arrow Recycling, has been fined after its failure to safely stack cardboard bales led to a worker being crushed under more than a third of a tonne of the material and being placed in a coma for ten days. The forty-nine-year-old employee (PA) was left fighting for his life when an unstable stack of cardboard bales, weighing around 400kg, tumbled over and landed on him as he was carrying out work at the firm’s recycling site in April 2016. PA suffered a cracked skull and a brain haemorrhage.
Arrow Recycling pleaded guilty to breaching reg 10(4) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was sentenced at Wolverhampton Magistrates’ last week. The company was fined £160,000 and also ordered to pay £2,917 in costs.