The lack of separation of people from moving vehicles was one of the reasons that an 89-year-old worker was fatally injured when struck by a reversing delivery vehicle. In too many workplaces that I visit, there is insufficient consideration given to this common, dangerous, controllable practice.
The Magistrates’ Court in Mansfield heard how on 26 April 2016 the woman, working for Savanna Rags International Limited, was walking from the weighbridge towards the smoking shelter in the rear yard during her afternoon break. A delivery vehicle driven by a visiting driver reversed from the weighbridge towards the rear yard to deliver goods when she was struck by the back of the vehicle sustaining fatal injuries.
During the course of its investigation, the HSE found that the company had failed to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks arising from vehicle movement. It was custom and practice for vehicles to reverse from the weighbridge, which was also used by employees to access the factory. There were no measures in place to adequately segregate pedestrians from moving vehicles, and there wasn’t a safe system of work in place to ensure that vehicles could manoeuvre safely.
An incident that occurred in January 2015 has led to a fine for an oil company.
When contractors working for ESL Fuels Ltd cut into a sealed pipe using a grinder, there was an explosion. The pipe in question was attached to a tank and part of a waste oil recovery process at ESL fuels Ltd’s North Blend Tank Farm. Flammable gases within the pipe ignited, resulting in an explosion within the tank and the tank lid and vent pipe being partially detached and projected over a raised walkway.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive discovered that the company was having difficulty with the waste oil recovery process, which was foaming out of the vessel and filling its bund. The company’s tests were inadequate and failed to identify the cause of the problem, which was generating flammable carbon monoxide gas. A decision was taken to connect the vessel by pipework to an emergency relief dump tank to prevent a potential catastrophic overpressure in the tank but the safety implications of this modification and its design were not risk assessed. The HSE also found systemic failings with the company’s management of contractors and an inadequate Permit to Work system.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) general secretary Matt Wrack said:
The fire and rescue service is in crisis. Seven years of budget cuts have left the public at greater risk as there are far fewer firefighters left to respond to emergencies. We’ve seen thousands of frontline firefighter posts axed and dozens of fire stations closed with the result that it’s taking a lot longer for fire crews to arrive at emergencies.
In a fire, every second counts – it can make the difference between life and death. If the government is serious about keeping the public safe, they should use the upcoming budget as an opportunity to bring the cuts to fire and rescue services to an end and invest in the service instead.
Disasters like the fire at Grenfell Tower show how important and valued our emergency services are. MPs from all parties should support investment into the fire and rescue service in order to maintain a world class, professional service that keeps us all safe.
In a recently reported case, a culture of negligence resulted in prison sentences being given to two Company Directors. A litany of safety failings led to a recycling company and both of its directors being prosecuted and fined. How did this particular company and its management get it so wrong?
A series of visits by the HSE to the recycling plant operated by Monoworld Recycling Ltd revealed a wide range of safety failings. Workers were being put at serious risk in various aspects of their work, including:
- work at height
- using unsafe work equipment and unsafe electrical equipment
- poorly maintained workplace vehicles
- emergency stop buttons on machinery were marked as broken but were not repaired
- broken lights and windscreen wipers on forklift trucks were not fixed, putting pedestrians and drivers at risk.