Confined space triple fatality

Reporting on fatality is sad; reporting on a Confined space triple fatality is even. Although this tragedy occurred in America, it could so easily be a report about a UK incident. This confined space tragedy happened in South Florida and claimed the lives of three workers – two of them were “would-be rescuers”. Two companies were taken to task over this issue.

Confined space triple fatality: What happened?

The incident occurred on Jan. 16, 2017, when a 34-year-old pipe layer entered the manhole (which is a confined space) and quickly became unresponsive. A 49-year-old laborer then entered the manhole and attempted to rescue the first employee. After the second employee also became unresponsive, a 24-year-old equipment operator followed in an attempt to help his fallen co-workers. Sadly, all three men died. Post-incident atmospheric testing in the manhole revealed lethal levels of hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide.

The fatality count could have been even worse; two other employees and a volunteer firefighter were also exposed to the toxic gases in the manhole during rescue attempts but survived.

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extremely helpful and nothing was too much trouble

As a new roofing business aiming to attain a Health & Safety accreditation, we asked LRB Consulting Ltd to help guide us through the process. Their help was invaluable, they were quick to respond to any phone calls and correspondence and provided advice based on knowledge and experience, putting our minds at ease.

Christian was extremely helpful and nothing was too much trouble for him. He took the time to explain details and options in a way that I could understand and adapt to our company’s needs.

I would recommend LRB Consulting Ltd to anyone needing Health & Safety advice, their professional yet friendly approach helps them stand out from the rest and we look forward to working with them in the future.

Sandy Betts and Darren Prime, Directors, S&D Roofing Ltd

Life changing injuries

A 21-year-old worker has been left with life changing injuries, and the Company has been fined.

Devonshire based textile company Heathcoat Fabrics Limited has been fined after a 21-year old employee suffered life changing injuries (to his hand). In August 2014, AS was preparing a piece of machinery for the next shift. During this operation, his hand was drawn into the rotating rollers. He suffered severe crush injuries to his left hand resulting in partial amputation of four fingers. Exeter Magistrates’ Court was told that the HSE investigation found the company had failed safeguard this dangerous machinery. They had previously provided a guard, but when it broke down they failed to repair it and instead replaced the guard with an emergency stop wire. It remained in that condition for over two years, with the proper guard only being replaced the day after this incident.

The Company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,862.30.

Speaking after the hearing Health & Safety Executive inspector Paul Mannell said: “[AS] has suffered life changing injuries due to the company’s failures. An individual’s health and safety should not be made worse by the work they do.

[AS] has suffered life changing injuries due to the company’s failures. An individual’s health and safety should not be made worse by the work they do.

Duty holders have the responsibility to ensure all dangerous machinery has the appropriate level of safety guarding for employees to be able to operate it.

Fire Safety Crisis: Fire Safety and Local Councils

It is clear that the country is facing fire safety crisis in the area of social housing. It has been reported that:

The Local Government Association has said that local councils cannot afford the substantial fire-safety upgrades to social housing recommended in the wake of the Grenfell fire

The Local Government Association represent more than 400 English and Welsh local authorities. It has released a statement saying:

It is clear that the current building regulation system has failed. It is also clear that councils cannot afford to carry out this work.

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Use of highly flammable liquids leads to a DSEAR fine for paper company

A paper coating company has been fined after a worker suffered burns following a fire on a coating machine. Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court heard how an Olympic Varnish Company Limited employee suffered burn injuries following a fire caused by the use of highly flammable liquid to clean rollers on a coating machine.

An investigation by the HSE into the incident found that the company did not ensure that risks from the use of highly flammable liquids were eliminated or reduced across a number of areas of that activity. There was an absence of a suitable safe system of work as well as a lack of suitable training.


Olympic Varnish Company Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6 (1) of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 and has been fined £16,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,505.40. The DSEAR fine was awarded after an operative was injured by a fire resulting from the use of highly flammable liquids used for cleaning rollers.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE principal inspector Andrew Kingscott said:

Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to inform, instruct, and train their workers in that safe system of working. In this case, if a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the serious injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented.

If you wish to avoid a similar DSEAR fine, then you need to assess the risks, put control measures in place, and train your workers. If you need help with this, please contact us.

HSE are very active on Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)

I have been approached recently by a few engineering companies as a result of HSE actions. In line with the HSE inspection regime, these are now more focused on Health Issues instead of the more traditional safety issues, such as Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), Noise, inhalation of hazardous fumes and dust.

In addition to these approaches, there is evidence of HSE interest and action on Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) from recent prosecutions.

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) Prosecution

An engineering firm has been fined for failing to control the risk to employees using hand-held power tools from Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). Manchester and Salford Magistrates heard how Newfield Fabrications Co Ltd (NFCL) failed to ensure the risks to its employees from exposure was adequately controlled. The company also failed to ensure its employees were given sufficient information, instruction, and training on the health effects of working with vibrating hand tools.

An investigation by the HSE found that sometime towards the end of 2015, a welder who had been working at the company for a number of years had been given a job that involved a significant amount of grinding and polishing. After a number of hours on the task, the worker began to experience numbness and tingling. He asked to swap with another worker but was told to carry on. Whilst his symptoms continued he was told by his supervisor to carry on using vibrating tools. A few weeks later, a 20-year-old apprentice welder also began to suffer from vibration-related symptoms from using similar tools.

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