handheld mobile phone

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


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East Midlands Ceramics Ltd

Brexit Health and Safety

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.

Brexit and health & safetyImage 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”.

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Fire and explosion at an oil refinery leads to £1.65 Million fine

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.

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Control measures need to be managed

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).