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.
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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.
Warburtons – Work at Height failing leads to fine. The national bread making company Warburtons has been fined £2,000,000 after a worker was hospitalised following a fall from height.
Wolverhampton Crown Court heard how (in November 2013) a worker, AS, was injured. He was cleaning one of the mixing machines at their Wednesbury bakery, a routine task that he carried out every few weeks, when he lost his footing and fell nearly two metres. AS was hospitalised with a compression fracture in his spine. He was not able to return to work until December 2014, but was unable to continue in his old role and was dismissed in December 2015 after another long period of sick leave.
TheHSE investigation found that Warburtons Limited routinely expected their workers to access the top of the mixers to clean them. The workers were often unbalanced and would brace themselves to stop from falling. The workers were not adequately supervised and there had been no training on how the mixer needed to be cleaned at height. The company failed to control the risk of falls from height when carrying out this routine cleaning activity.
Warburtons Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulation 2005 and was fined £2,000,000 and ordered to pay costs of £19,609.28.
Roller shutter door injury arising from lack of maintenance. A recycling firm has been fined after a worker suffered crush injuries from a roller shutter door. The Newport Magistrates’ Court heard how an employee was injured when the door’s roller barrel fell on him resulting in three cracked ribs and a damaged spleen, causing him to miss eight weeks of work.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the April 2015 incident found that none of the electronically operated roller shutter doors at the company’s site had been adequately maintained to keep the equipment safe.
Recresco Limited of Springvale Industrial Estate, Cwmbran pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and were fined £50,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9944.
An unfortunate series of events led to a gas cylinder fatality - A worker died when one of 66 heavy argonite gas cylinders hit him as they were propelled at speeds of up to 170 mph after one toppled over, discharged high-pressure gas, which caused it to collide with others and set off a chain reaction. The fatal event occurred as the worker walked with a colleague inside a building during a construction project in Welwyn Garden City. One of the gas cylinders flew out of the aragonite storeroom and struck him. The impact caused multiple injuries and the worker died at the scene of the incident.
St Albans Crown Court heard (in July 2013) that 80 cylinders, nearly two metres high and weighing about 142 kg each, were stored without their safety-critical protection caps and were not secured properly in racks. The principal contractor on the project, Crown House Technologies, had hired Kidde Fire Protection Services to supply and install fire suppression equipment in the new facility it was building. Kidde Products then carried out the work. Although this is an older case, the messages are still important.
The death of a contractor has resulted in a large fine for Whirlpool UK Appliances Limited. The self-employed contractor fell from a mobile elevated work platform (MEWP) and later died from his injuries after a conveyor was started.
In March 2015, the contractor had been working at the height of nearly five metres installing revised fire detection equipment. At the same time, maintenance workers of the company started an overhead conveyor. They were unaware that the contractor was working nearby. The movement caused the MEWP to tip over, and the contractor fell to the factory floor, and later died from his injuries.