Asbestos failures lead (again) to substantial fines

A building contractor has been fined after failing to carry out the correct procedures after asbestos was found during the refurbishment of a building at Bedford School in Bedford. Asbestos failures included the lack of a demolition/refurbishment survey and failure to manage asbestos after it was disturbed.

Luton Crown Court heard how on 11 August 2015, SDC Builders Ltd failed to carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment to identify the presence of asbestos in all areas of the building where work was to be carried out.

An investigation by the HSE found that SDC Builders Ltd failed to carry out the procedures required under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. Continue reading

Prison Sentence for couple convicted for Manslaughter over bouncy castle death

A husband and wife whose business operates funfairs have been convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence after a seven-year-old child [SG] died when the bouncy castle she was playing on blew into the air and struck a tree. The child [SG] was taken to hospital but died from her injuries. Sentencing has been adjourned until a date yet to be set.

William and Shelby Thurston were overseeing several rides at Thurston’s Funfair at Harlow Town Park in Essex on 26 March 2016 when the incident happened. They denied responsibility for the child’s death, but a jury at Chelmsford Crown Court convicted the pair on 9 May following a three-week trial. The court was told that the couple had failed to anchor the inflatable dome to the ground securely and did not monitor weather conditions to ensure that it was safe for the bouncy castle to be in use. [SG] was trapped inside the castle when a gust of wind blew the dome away from its moorings. It travelled about 300 m down a hill and struck a tree before coming to a rest. [SG] sustained multiple injuries to her head, neck and chest.

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Lack of a Safe System of Work leads to fatal crushing

In many cases, the safety of workers using potentially dangerous equipment can be achieved by the use of a suitable Safe System of Work. Conversely, the lack of a safe system of work can lead to serious (and even fatal) consequences.  Unfortunately, in a recent case waste paper management company has been fined £250,000 after an employee was fatally crushed inside a baling machine.

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) investigation found it was “most likely” that the worker fell down the baling machine’s hopper and into the compactor chamber while clearing material that had blocked the hopper. It is also suggested that “Falling into the chamber initiated the compaction sequence.”

The Company had failed to adopt a safe system of work, and employees routinely climbed the baler to remove blockages. The HSE said workers were exposed to the risk of falling from height, either into the compactor chamber or on to the concrete floor.

The company was found guilty of breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £250,000, with costs of £6,640.

HSE inspector Nicholas Wright said: “This tragic incident, which led to the avoidable death of a father, was easily preventable and the risk should have been identified.”

Safe System of Work

A system of work is a set of procedures according to which work must be carried out. Safe systems of work are required where hazards cannot be eliminated and some risk still exists.  Safe Systems of Work can reduce or eliminate exposure to hazards but they must be strictly followed. In order to be effective, your Safe Systems of Work Regularly review your systems of work to ensure that they still reduce or minimise risk and revise as necessary.

The lack of a Safe System of Work may lead to risks not being managed effectively and workers being placed in danger. The lack of a Safe System of Work may also lead to death, as in the case outlined above.

Safeguarding Training

There is a lot more to Safeguarding than just getting the DBS checks done. It is recognised that the protection of vulnerable groups is an important issue and needs to be managed effectively. Vulnerable groups can include Children, Young Persons, Disabled Persons, and Elderly Persons, as well as other groups.

We have recently been creating Safeguarding policies for several of our clients who are working on site with (potentially) vulnerable groups. In some cases, this includes work in Schools or Colleges, in other cases it is work on playing fields. There are many other situations where appropriate and proportionate arrangements need to be in place.

Safeguarding Training

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Reversing Vehicles – failure to control led to serious injury and large fine

Failure to control reversing vehicles led to the supermarket chain Tesco being fined £1.6m following a prosecution brought by Ealing Council. The supermarket chain pleaded guilty to two health and safety offences (dating back to August 2014) when a Tesco driver reversed into a member of the public at the Tesco Metro store on Greenford Road loading bay. The victim suffered multiple serious and life-changing injuries after becoming wedged between the vehicle and loading bay.

Failure to control reversing vehicles

After an investigation, the council found Tesco had failed to assess the risk of vehicles and pedestrians using the premises’ car park and also failed to stop the driver from performing an unassisted reverse. Performing an unassisted reverse is against Tesco’s internal procedures, but the company has now made changes to Greenford Road car park which will ensure better public safety.

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Legislation Update: Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017

The Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017 came into force on 1 January 2018. These updated Regulations are supported by a new Approved Code of Practice and Guidance (ACoP). The Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017 (IRR17) set out an employer’s minimum legal duties, while the ACoP text and guidance give practical advice on how to comply with those Regulations.

The main changes since the last ACoP are:

  • The dose limit for exposure to the lens of the eye has been reduced from 150 mSv to 20 mSv in a year.
  • There is a new system of authorisation for work with ionising radiation – the higher the radiation protection risk, the greater the requirements. A three-tier system of regulatory control, notification, registration and consent has replaced the previous requirement for notification and prior authorisation. To notify, register or get consent from HSE, follow this link
  • The requirement for notification has been changed to a lower level of activity than in IRR99.
  • The definition of an outside worker has been broadened so that it includes both classified and non-classified workers.
  • There is now a requirement to put procedures in place to estimate doses to members of the public.
  • Guidance has been clarified regarding the duties of employees to co-operate with employers in meeting the requirements of these Regulations.
  • Medical appeals by an employee are made to HSE within 28 days of the employee being notified of the appointed doctor’s decision. This has been introduced for consistency with other regulations.

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Captive Key duplicate leads to Interlock guard bypass – Maintenance Fitter Killed

A maintenance fitter died after he was trapped in a conveyor used a spare captive key (part of a safety interlock) to access a guarded enclosure and work on the machinery while it was still powered up. The use of the spare key led to the interlock guard bypass which led to the fatality.

The precast concrete products manufacturer CPM Group was fined £660,000 after a 43-year-old fitter [JB] was fatally crushed when the conveyor started moving as he was carrying out maintenance work at the company’s plant in Frome, Somerset in October 2016.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered that JB’s supervisor had authorised the maintenance on the same day and issued a permit to work, which detailed the procedures to ensure work was carried out safely in the weigh bin area. But the supervisor failed to supervise the work and had not checked the control measures identified in the permit, including making sure the machinery was isolated and confirmed safe.

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Mental Health Awareness Week

Stress is the focus of Mental Health Awareness Week this year. This is a subject that many businesses fail to deal with and yet it is one that affects many people.

Mental Health Awareness Week is taking place on 14 – 20 May 2018.

Mental Health Awareness Week

What resources are available?

If you’re running an event for Mental Health Awareness Week or even if you just want to raise awareness, maybe via your website or social media, there are some great free resources to help you – download social media graphics and posters that you can print.


Grenfell Tower Inquiry – Phase 1 dates have been announced

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry hearings schedule has been announced

Phase one will focus on the factual narrative of the events of the night of 14 June 2017. This will include:

  • the existing fire safety and prevention measures at Grenfell Tower
  • where and how the fire started
  • the development of the fire and smoke
  • how the fire and smoke spread from its original seat to other parts of the building
  • the chain of events before the decision was made that there was no further savable life in the building
  • the evacuation of residents

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