Surprise safety inspections for the waste industry

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned the waste industry that it can expect unannounced safety inspections at sites from 02 October. This warning came after the HSE advised businesses in the waste and recycling industry that “they must pay closer attention” to how they manage workplace risk. It is part of a “proactive review” of health and safety standards in waste and recycling businesses across the country.

In the recently published HSE sector plan for the waste and recycling sector, there is a targeted reduction in injuries and fatalities to waste workers caused by moving machinery. The main causes of fatal injuries to workers in the sector are thought to be collisions involving moving vehicles, coming into contact with moving machinery, or injury from collapsing or overturning objects.

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Silica dust exposure – HSE/HSL Study

In a published study, HSE and the HSL looked carefully at roof tile cutting operations.

The Problem

When cutting roof tiles, workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica (RCS).  This dust, if breathed in, causes severe lung diseases such as silicosis. The HSE has produced a video of the effects of silicosis on people’s lives.

Valley tiles are created where rooves meet (see picture). These tiles need to be trimmed to fit. An interim agreement between industry and HSE allowed valley tiles to be cut using hand-held power tools without wet dust suppression systems, which would introduce additional safety hazards, such as slips.


HSE Video of stonecutter suffering from silicosis


Radon Gas – a cause of lung cancer in the UK

Radon Gas: A prime cause of lung cancer across the UK has created an infographic describing the major causes of this radon gas and essential tips on how to avoid getting affected by this gas. It also guides you to buy a special test kit which is inexpensive and easily available online.
There are no symptoms of radon exposure, therefore, it is vital that testing is carried out in properties at risk of containing elevated levels. Exposure to radon is responsible for over 1100 lung cancer deaths each year in the UK yet many of these deaths could have been avoided if testing had been carried out and high radon levels reduced prior to occupants receiving high doses of radiation.

Step ladder fall leads to £1,000,000 fine

A Hull-based bakery has been ordered to pay a fine of £1 Million after a self-employed contractor died when he fell from a stepladder. Hull Crown Court heard that the worker was contracted to complete electrical work at Greencore Grocery Ltd site in Hull in October 2013. The worker was wiring two motors for a new sugar paste machine – the work was situated above a machine and carried out from a stepladder. The company agreed this work activity could be completed using a stepladder, which it had provided. The employee fell from the step ladder and suffered fatal injuries. He is thought to have hit his head on a wall when he fell after standing with one foot on the top of the step-ladder, and the other on a cantilever lid, which moved, causing him to lose his balance.

The Health and Safety Executive’s investigation found that Greencore failed to properly plan the activity from the beginning including access arrangements to be made for installation of motors to use to carry out this work activity.

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couldn’t care less attitude to safety

Having a couldn’t care less attitude to safety has landed the boss of a Swansea skip hire company in jail and with fines. The owner of a skip hire and waste disposal firm based near Swansea has been jailed for a year and his firm fined £35,000 for health and safety breaches. During the sentencing,  the Company owner (Robert Collis) was slammed by Judge Geraint Walters at Swansea Crown Court for his couldn’t care less attitude towards his employees, the public, and the environment. The Company was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive following a fire in 2013 which took five engines and 25 firefighters to put out. Following this blaze, the HSE found a number of safety breaches including the site being unfenced and open to the public, insecure storage of gas cylinders, and a teenage worker not being issued with safety equipment on site.

The Company owner had an aggressive attitude towards the HSE, such that their visits needed to be accompanied by a Police Officer.