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.
I have found all of the staff at LRB to be very professional and knowledgeable, I have found their help very valuable.
Claire Sharpe, Conference and Facilities Team Manager, Voluntary Action Leicestershire
Record keeping for matters relating to health and safety is something that many organisations are poor at, yet suitable records kept in an accurate and retrievable form can make a significant contribution to the good management of an organisation and to legal defences (when being prosecuted or sued) and also to avoiding legal action in the first place. Potentially, there are many records that an organisation could keep. Careful consideration should be given to what records should be kept and for how long. Some records are required to be kept be various pieces of legislation, while others may be useful in defending legal actions. Many pieces of legislation require various records and documents to be kept, although few specify the exact nature of the record to be kept.
Record Keeping – Accident Records
As a minimum, details of all workplace injuries must be recorded in the Accident Book (Form B1510), as required by the Social Security (Claims and Payments) Regulations 1979. Such records must be kept for at least three years from the date of entry.
Construction failures – directors jailed A Greater Manchester construction company (SR and RJ Brown Ltd) has been fined £300,000 for Corporate Manslaughter, and two of its directors have been jailed for 20 months after covering up the events that led to a worker’s death. The directors attempted to cover up events after the death of a worker. The court heard that the directors (and a worker) conspired to hide the safety management failings to make it look as if the victim had taken off his harness before he fell and ignored had management instructions. The two directors (brothers) were sentenced to 20 months after pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice and failing to ensure the safety of employees and others.
The fatal incident
On 10 December 2014 a worker (BE) fell from the roof of a metal structure he was helping to dismantle in Ramsbottom, Bury. He suffered catastrophic head injuries and died hours later at Salford Royal Hospital. At the time of the fall, BE was working for SR and RJ Brown.
Food Safety Offences – Asda has been fined £300,000 after inspectors found dead mice and flies at a depot that distributes food to online shoppers in London and Essex.
In May 2016, inspectors found dead mice and flies at a depot that distributes food to online shoppers in London and Essex. Asda pleaded guilty to three breaches of food safety regulations after an inspection found mouse droppings on shelves and gnawed cereal and sugar packets. The inspection also found fly pupae shells and rotting coriander in home delivery trays during the visit to the site in Enfield.
An Enfield Councillor commented:
It beggars belief that a national retailer would allow food to be stored in an environment where rodents are running riot.