I’m sure that you are more than aware that this year is now running towards its end and that 2015 beckons. Traditionally, this is a time for people to think about the future:
- What will next year bring?
- Are you ready for it?
- How will you respond to it?
- How will you make the very bet of it?
At New Year, many people make resolutions to change – their lifestyle, attitude, eating habits, etc.
Do businesses? Do the people who run businesses?
This year, why not make a resolution to “do safety better”. I do not mean that you should spend unnecessary sums of money or to carry out unnecessary training or risk assessments. I mean “to think about safety and make some simple, low cost changes for the better”.
Here are some simple starters for you and your New Year’s Health and Safety Resolutions:
Construction Safety Plasterboard – A Glasgow-based construction company has been fined for serious safety failings after a worker was severely injured when he was crushed under nearly two tonnes of plasterboard. SM, a joiner for William Fulton Building Services Ltd, was putting up plasterboards inside an extension at a house in Duntocher when the incident happened in icy conditions on 6 January 2011.
Dumbarton Sheriff Court was told that his employer, WF, had brought more plasterboards sheets for the job and was using a forklift truck to lift the load onto the site. WF drove the unsecured load of 82 plasterboard sheets (weighing in the order of 1925 kg) down the road towards the extension and began to lower them into a courtyard. The court heard that the forks of the truck were iced up and that the road had not been gritted. SM and another employee were in the courtyard below the forklift and watched the boom extend over a demolished wall. As the workers began to guide the load from the forklift to the ground SM, who was not wearing a hi-vis vest and could not see WF, noticed the plasterboard move. As he tried to get out of the way, he slipped. The load fell off the forks and landed on SM trapping him.
Work at height – two separate incidents at one site
Two workers injured following two separate work at height injuries at a national drinks company. One of the injuries occurred when a worker fell nearly four metres off a ladder whilst clearing a blockage in a chute for a grain silo. He was found unconscious on the floor and taken to hospital. Luckily he had very minor injuries and has returned to work. The other incident happened two months later when another worker was standing on the bonnet of a loading machine attempting to clean the roof. He slipped and fell more than two metres to the ground. He suffered a bleed on the brain and a shattered leg bone. He now suffers from short term memory loss but has also returned to work.
Safety and lack of communication – a worker was crushed to death by falling load from and overhead crane. The incident happened when two employees were using the same overhead rail lifting two individual loads, both unaware of the actions of the other. The two cranes collided and sent one of the loads, a three and a half tonne steel container, crashing to the ground. As a result one of the employees received fatal crush injuries.
Pressure vessel safety – pressure vessel kills one and seriously injures three others. The incident happened at a horticulture company who were attempting to upgrade a pressurised tank used to heat their greenhouses. Three people were seriously injured and one died of his head injuries six days later. The court was told that two workers had been instructed to unbolt a hatch cover from the pressure vessel, unaware that there was still pressure in the system. This caused a fatal release of pressure sending the hatch flying across the room followed by a large jet of water sweeping everyone off their feet.
Construction Safety Electrical Cable cut through – a worker survives after cutting through a live mains cable. A construction company has been fined £2,000 and made to pay £980 in fees after they were found guilty of failing to identify live mains cables under the CDM regulations 2007.
The company was clearing the site to build a new student block. The employee had been asked to go into the cellar and to start removing old pipes and cables. He was assured that all live power had been disconnected. He began to cut the cables with his angle grinder, as soon as this touched the live wires there was a large flash and the worker was thrown across the floor resulting in injuries to his elbow and shoulder. Luckily his protective clothing had protected him from burns or any more serious injuries. The HSE inspector added that this young worker had been extremely lucky to not sustain more serious injuries as a result of this incident and that companies need to take more seriously the risks from gas and electricity supplies getting written confirmation that they have been disconnected before work commences.
Work at height – a college was fined after contributing to life-long injuries to one of its employees. A college specialising in Health and Safety teaching was found to have failed to ensure work at height had been carried out safely – with no risk assessments having been completed on this since moving to a new facility nor had any training on work at height been given to the employee. The investigation showed that the college had installed a new extraction system designed to remove carbon fibre dust from the atmosphere during drilling and other processes. The system had been installed at short notice following a new contract to train people in the aerospace industry.
Lead poisoning – scrap metal company fined over lead poisoning
It was found that a worker who was admitted into hospital was found to have seven times the normal amounts of lead in his system, putting him at high risk of nerve, brain and kidney damage as well as potential infertility.
The investigation found that workers had regularly been exposed to lead fumes and dust for a number of months. The company had been repeatedly warned prior to the worker being admitted to hospital that he should be suspended from working with lead, as required by law, until levels fell sufficiently low enough again. This advice was ignored several times and the worker allowed to continue exposing himself to the hazard.
Wood Working Machine Injury – crushes a worker’s ankle – An employee conducting maintenance on a piece of machinery was trying to flush lubricant through the grease unit on the machine. He had one foot on the floor and the other on a base plate next to a large moving bed. He asked another employee to turn on the machine. As they did so, the already programmed machines bed immediately moved forward crushing the man’s foot between the bed and base plate.
The investigation found that in order for the machine to be turned on required the operator to lose sight of the injured party, as such they were unaware they were not clear of the machine. The machine had a hand held mobile remote control pendant, used to control the machine. This pendant had been broken for three and a half years and had not been repaired or replaced.
Warehouse Safety Fork Lift Trucks cause injuries and fatalities
In this case a worker was crushed to death by an overturning fork lift truck. The accident happened as an employee was driving an unladen fork lift truck down a sloping access. He made a sudden and sharp turn causing the truck to overturn. As it did, the employee was thrown from the truck with the roll cage landing on his head, trapping him underneath it. A colleague rushed to another fork lift to raise it and free the injured man. He was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident due to multiple head injuries.