Fall from height leaves worker paralysed

A Fall from height leaves worker paralysed from waist down

Recently, Southwark Crown Court  fined a construction company £110,000 and ordered to pay £16,620 in costs following a worker who suffered spinal injuries after falling eight metres through an unguarded window space, leaving him paralysed from the waist down.

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Construction Industry HSE Site Visits

Construction Industry HSE Site Visits – The HSE will be carrying out targeted site inspections from 22 September for a month.

The HSE have announced: “Health as well as safety” and this is the message for this year’s Construction Initiative, as poor standards and unsafe practices on Britain’s building sites will be targeted during a nationwide drive aimed at reducing ill health, death and injury in the construction industry.  From 22 September until 17 October, HSE Construction Inspectors will carry out unannounced visits to sites where refurbishment projects or repair works are underway. This is the ninth annual Initiative and will be building on previous campaigns. The HSE Inspectors will ensure high-risk activities particularly those affecting the health of workers, are being properly managed.

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Workplace Fire – in a Thailand Glove Factory

A workplace fire broke out at a glove factory in Samut Prakan’s Phra Pradaeng district in Thailand on a Monday morning at the start of September 2014.

There were no reports of injuries, though damage was estimated to be about 3 million bart. The fire spread quickly as gloves and socks in the factory fuelled it.

Fire fighters spent about half an hour to control the blaze. A factory worker told police that the factory belongs to a Hong Kong man. The worker said he was awakened by the smell of smoke as he was sleeping on the third floor of the factory.

Police suspected that the workplace fire may be caused by an electrical short circuit.

Workplace fire caused by electrical short circuit – it is a bit of a cliché, but at least nobody was hurt or killed this time.

Fee for Intervention – The first eighteen month’s experience

In June 2014, the HSE published the report of the Independent FFI (Fee for Intervention) Review Panel.

The Conclusions of the Independent Fee for Intervention (FFI) Review Panel

Fee for Intervention (FFI) has satisfied the requirement that the cost burden of enforcement is shifted away from taxpayers and towards non-compliant duty-holders. The approximately £10m net figure that was raised between October 2012 and the end of January 2014 is likely to rise further, pro rata, but then to level off at the point at which all inspection and investigation work is covered by the FFI regime.

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Crane operator swung site cabin into colleague

Crane operator swung site cabin into colleague, leading to injury and prosecution.

The driver of a crane was prosecuted after he failed to plan a simple lift which led to his colleague being hit by a moving portable cabin. A lifting plan need not be complicated, but it must deal with the risks associated with the operation.

The driver was lifting the cabin onto a lorry which was being taken to another site in May 2011. The victim had crawled under the cabin to retrieve work materials when the driver lifted one end of the cabin on the ground. The cabin was dragged across the victim causing a fractured rib cage and pelvis.

The HSE investigated and found that the driver had failed to plan the operation and that the crane unit was too far from the cabin to lift it safely onto the lorry.

The driver was fined £4,000 and £6,000 costs when he pleaded guilty of breaching Regulation 8(1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. The HSE added that “clear lines of communication are needed to ensure that everyone knows what is to happen and what is expected of them”.

Crane operator trapped by load

A crane operator trapped by load (eight tonne block) in gap centimetres wide.

A company which makes commercial vans has been prosecuted after a crane operator was crushed in a lifting operation at their Luton factory. The operator was working in the press plant in 2011 where he was lowering an eight tonne die block. Having finished the operation he placed the control box on top of the die block while he bent to unhook the lifting chains.

The 50 tonne crane started dragging the block towards him crushing him against another block. There were no witnesses but it was agreed that the operator’s shoulder brushed against the strap attached to the control box causing the lever that moves the crane to operate.

The HSE investigated and decided that there were no other reasons that could have caused the incident. It was also discovered that there should have been a frame around the control levers but this was missing. Formal maintenance of the crane was the previous year during August which determined the guard could have been missing for some time and several of the other cranes had missed annual inspections. Many other maintenance problems had not been acted on e.g. leaking oil missing clips on gantry rails. It also came to light that the drivers of the cranes hadn’t been told to make daily checks before using the equipment to ensure there were no defects.

The operator sustained fractures to his left arm, breast bone, right collarbone and ribs and his lung collapsed.

The company was fined £155,000 and costs of £22,795 were ordered after they pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations and Regulations 8(1) and 9(3)a of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations.


Fork Lift Truck Death

A fork lift truck death costs cash and carry nearly £200,000.

A cash and carry wholesaler was fined £175,000 plus costs of £18,455 after a member of staff was killed at their site in Avonmouth. The victim was fatally wounded after she walked through the “Goods In” area of the site. The fork lift truck driver had not seen her as he reversed when loading goods onto a lorry. The victim was trapped under the truck and later died of her injuries. It was found that there were no designated walking areas to protect pedestrians from moving vehicles, nor did it require staff to wear high visibility clothing.

Bristol Crown Court viewed CCTV footage from the previous month showing fork lifts working close to pedestrians in the area and further investigation revealed the company had not providing proper training and instruction on pedestrian safety. The risk assessments were inadequate and not suitable for the Goods In area or the protection of pedestrians. Such an event, resulting in a fork lift truck death, is foreseeable in such a workplace and should be protected against.

The company admitted breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.


Corporate Manslaughter acquittal

A flower company, based in Norfolk, is one of the first to successfully defend itself against prosecution under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.

A tractor driver was towing a trailer to fill an uneven path with soil when the he tipped the hydraulic lift trailer; it hit a 11kv overhead cable. An onlooker called the ambulance after seeing smoke come from the tractor. The driver managed to get out of the cab but died on the same day.

The Norfolk police alongside the HSE, investigated the incident and discovered that the company director had already carried out the same task previously. It was discovered that there was no evidence to state that victim was following the instruction from the director but had acted on his own initiative.

The prosecution alleged that the driver had not been trained to work under power lines but it emerged that a training course for fork lift truck drivers had been carried out covering working under live cables. The investigation also found out that only a general risk assessment of working in fields had been done but failed to provide instruction of working near live power lines. The company also failed to provide plans showing the location of power lines.

The HSE served a prohibition notice instructing the company to stop tall vehicles approaching the power lines until appropriate risk assessments and a safe system of work had been achieved and that it had provided this information, instruction and training to the workforce.

Although they were acquitted of the charges under  the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, the Judge fined the company £50,000 plus costs of £47,932 for breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act (failure to ensure the health and safety of employees). This corporate manslaughter acquittal is one of the first.