Large fine for fall from height injury

Fines totalling £965,000 have been imposed on two companies as a result of a fall from height injury suffered by an employee. BAM Nuttall and McNealy Brown have been fined £900,000 and £65,000 respectively after they admitted failing to put proper procedures and safeguards in place to prevent a worker (in this case a painter PW) falling through the passenger waiting room ceiling at the railway station in East Croydon. PW, who was aged 31 at the time of the accident, suffered severe ligament damage and has been unable to return to work as an industrial painter since falling around 10 feet while working at East Croydon railway station in January 2015.

Croydon Crown Court heard that the two companies agreed the £12million contract with Network Rail to undertake the replacement of station floor surfaces, canopy roofs and cladding. BAM Nuttall started work in January 2014 and later that year a third company (DRH) was asked by the existing contractors to supply industrial painters to undertake specialist tasks. Continue reading

Catalogue of failures – including using crowbars to smash an asbestos roof

Quainton Logistics and Storage had let conditions on site fall well below the expected standards, said the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Workers use crowbars to smash asbestos roof

Workers had not been given personal protective equipment and used crowbars to smash up asbestos cement roof sheets, which was then left on top of mobile elevated work platforms (MEWPs) and forklift trucks. They were also working near open service pits without fall restraint equipment or edge protection, and a MEWP had been parked 1 m away from the perimeter of one of the pits. Only one of the three foreign nationals who were operating the workplace vehicles spoke English, and there were no toilets or washing facilities on site.

In May 2016, the HSE served an immediate prohibition on Quainton for putting workers and the public at risk from the potential spread of asbestos and from falls from height, including the roof and open pits.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching regs 15(2) and 28(6) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, for putting workers’ safety and health at risk and for failing to take measures to prevent a vehicle from falling into a pit respectively, and s 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. It was fined £14,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,870.

Meeting with the Board of Directors of a client

Great morning in London spent in a meeting with the Board of Directors of a client. The session involved a discussion on the duties of directors, and how this links back to the PDCA approach of 18001, 14001, and 9001. Several issues were discussed openly, with several well-considered questions coming back from the Board.

Process Safety (updated April 2018)

On the morning of the last day of two weeks of intensive training in the Middle East (last year) on the subject of Process Safety I happen to read the following article from IOSH:

Process safety neglected in board discussions

The two weeks have included a lot of interesting process safety discussions on technical topics such as:

  • Risk Assessment
  • Bow Tie Diagrams
  • Root Cause Analysis

Importantly, we have also talked at length about the importance of other factors, such as:

  • Communication and Consultation
  • Commitment from Senior Management
  • Active Monitoring
  • Process Safety Audits
  • Health and Safety Culture

In the UK, in April 2018, the HSE challenged Oil and Gas Companies to “do more” to tackle the problem of hydrocarbon releases (see below). This challenge came as we get close to the thirtieth anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster.

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April 2018

In addition to seeing and servicing clients, we have (like many businesses) been going through the year-end processes for accounts. We have also taken the time to look at our data handling and storage ahead of the start date for GDPR (May 2018). This has been a great opportunity to review some of our business processes and procedures. As a result, some changes are being progressed, and process mapping is being improved.

Upcoming works include: several H&S Compliance Audits, several Fire Risk Assessments, and a few Training Courses (Emergency First Aid, Fire Marshal Training, Manual Handling, etc.) which are all in the sphere of usual projects.

Different Projects include: A DSEAR Assessment for a Chemical Laboratory, a Bio-Lab safety audit,  and a review of hydrogen storage and feeds for a development laboratory.

What will May hold? A large amount of First Aid Training, delivery of a 3-Day Plans for some  Health and Safety Course with a Facilities Management focus, Site Audits and Safety Improvement Plans for some our newer clients.

Director held to account

This is another case of a Company, and a Director held to account. In this case, Prior Homes Limited and its company Director, Paul Prior, have been sentenced after failing to control the work at height risks associated with working on a fragile roof, which led to a worker sustaining serious injuries.

Two men were removing panels on a fragile roof when one of them fell through to the floor approximately five metres below. The investigation by the HSE found that Prior Homes Limited had failed to plan the work on the roof or to carry out this work safely. Also, Director Paul Prior was found to be personally in charge of this work and had consented to the unsafe working practices.

Prior Homes Limited, of Gillingham, pleaded guilty at Westminster Magistrates’ Court to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £9,334 and ordered to pay costs of £6,398.20.

Director held to account: Paul Prior pleaded guilty to breaching section 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was sentenced to a custodial sentence of 8 weeks suspended for 12 months and ordered to undertake 100 hours of unpaid work. Continue reading

Construction Site Asbestos Awareness

According to IOSH, “Uncertainty and ignorance” risks more asbestos deaths. Nearly one in four UK construction workers believe they may have been exposed to asbestos fibres, placing them at higher risk of contracting terminal cancers later in life.  Key findings of a recent report for the “No Time to Lose” campaign (relating to work-related cancer) include:

  • 59% have been informed of the asbestos risks and have had this reinforced regularly with training; 15 % have never been informed
  • 23% say they have been exposed to asbestos; with only 27% saying they haven’t been exposed
  • 32% have never checked the asbestos register before starting work on a new site, with 15% these not knowing about the register
  • 18% said that if they found asbestos they would either be unsure or have no idea what to do

While the survey was conducted among construction workers, the risks of asbestos exposure are present in many workplaces.

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Death at Work – Agency worker crushed while unloading lorry

Death at Work – it’s never a headline you want to read or to be featured in.

A logistics company has recently been fined £373,000 after a worker was crushed while unloading a vehicle from a visiting delivery lorry.  Southend Magistrates’ Court heard how an agency worker was unchaining a vehicle ramp from a delivery lorry when the vehicle moved forward with one chain still attached to the ramp, crushing the worker between the ramp and a barrier.

The HSE have Investigated the incident, which happened in December 2015, and HSE found that the employer (Eriks Industrial Services) had failed to fully control the risks arising from the operation of vehicle loading and unloading ramps. In particular, the company:

  • did not implement suitably robust systems of work
  • did not provide sufficient training to allow workers to safely unload vehicles
  • failed to appropriately brief visiting drivers on their role in this activity.

Death at Work leads to fine

Eriks Industrial Services of Amber Way, Halesowen, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £373,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,333.

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COSHH Awareness Training – Monday 09 April

Started the week off by delivering some COSHH Awareness training for laboratory and stores staff with one of my clients. Lots of discussions about the routes of entry into the body, and of the simple and effective control measures that can be employed to keep people safe.

Death at Work – Fine of £1.4 Million

Tata Steel UK Limited  (a steel producer) was were punished with a fine of £1.4 Million in February 2018 after the death at work of a 26-year-old maintenance electrician [TS].

Hull Crown Court heard how, on 23 April 2010, TS (an employee of Tata Steel) was examining a crane as part of his inspection duties as a maintenance electrician. Whilst carrying out this work, an overhead crane travelled over the cage he was in, trapping and then crushing him. TS died instantly.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Tata Steel had failed to enforce its own safety procedures, despite having two previous incidents before TS’s death. The HSE investigation also found Tata Steel failed to put in place essential control measures which would have prevented the overhead crane that killed TS from even being in operation.

Tata Steel UK Limited of Millbank, London, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 and Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was given a fine of £1.4 million along with costs of £140,000.

The fine is large, but the effect on the family is impossible for others to comprehend. Speaking after the hearing, a member of TS’s family said:

“T’s death has devastated us as a family. There’s not a day goes by when we don’t think about him. We miss him always, especially on family occasions when he should be with us. He was well loved by everyone who knew him, and had lots of friends. Every day we think about what might have been if he had still been here. We would like to thank, once again, all those who have helped and supported us over the course of the last eight years. It means a great deal to us.”

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