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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.”

Continue reading

Machinery Guarding Fine

Machinery Guarding is an important control measure to prevent injury to workers using conveyors and other similar equipment. This case is yet another severe injury arising from inadequate guarding and predictable human actions (trying to clear a blockage).

Mason Animal Feeds Ltd (based in Co Armagh, Northern Ireland) has been fined £120,000 at Newry Crown Court after failing to provide adequate safety measures on a chain and flight conveyor used to move animal feed from the mixing plant to the bagging area. The company was found guilty following an incident in which a 17-year-old employee had his right arm dragged into the conveyor while trying to clear a blockage. His right arm and wrist were severely damaged, resulting in him now having very limited mobility in his hand and wrist.

There were breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (NI).

Speaking on behalf of the HSENI, Inspector Sean Keogh said:

Employers must ensure that all machinery is adequately guarded and that the employees are trained, competent and authorised to operate machinery.

It is also essential that employers provide health and safety information to their employees that is clear and easily understood.



Simply Put – Risk Assessments

‘Simply Put’. In this series, we’re going to be taking a simpler look at some of the key phrases and ideas we frequently come across in health and safety. – such as Risk Assessment.

At the heart of our company’s ethos is the desire to provide helpful, practical advice. Part of that comes from speaking in plain English and avoiding unnecessary jargon. However, at one of our recent training courses, we were struck by the fact that there are some words and phrases we all use without necessarily thinking about what they really mean. Continue reading

Process safety – COMAH Fine of £400,000

Process Safety issues (such as major gas releases or the loss of containment of highly flammable liquids) can create significant risks to health, safety, and to the environment. Refer also to our recent Process Safety blog. Following a substantial release of flammable butane gas from its plant, Total Lindsey Oil Refinery (LOR) has been fined £400,000.

The Magistrates’ Court in Grimsby was told that the leak happened during a planned maintenance shutdown that takes place every four years. One of the planned tasks during the shutdown (that involves processing units, pipework, vents and drains) was the connection of a new 1 km-long butane line between two of the processing units.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the contractor who connected the pipework had not checked the whole line to ensure it had been properly installed and all the valves were closed. Further to this, the pipework should also have been pressure tested before flammable substances were introduced, the HSE said. As a result, a high-point vent was left open and about 50 tonnes of butane leaked over a period of nearly four hours (in March 2016).

Process Safety

Continue reading

Serious Fire Safety Breaches leads to Prosecution

Serious fire safety breaches have led to a Scarborough hotel being prosecuted. Owing to the poor safety conditions that were evident, a Prohibition Notice was issued that prevented the use of the upper floors. An enforcement notice for remedial work to be completed was served with a deadline date that was missed by two months.

Fire Safety Officers from North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (NYFRS) visited the building and identified a number of serious fire safety breaches, including:

  • No suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment (FRA) had  been undertaken
  • The existing fire alarm was inappropriate for the premises
    • it did not sound above the lower ground floor, meaning anyone sleeping in the rooms above ground floor would not have been alerted in the event of a fire
  • Numerous defective fire doors
    • not fitted with self-closers
    • lack of intumescent strips and smoke seals (which would allow smoke and fire to enter into the means of escape impeding anyone’s evacuation from the building
  • Fire doors held open with (what looked like) automatic hold open devices
    • these were not connected to the fire alarm system and so would remain open in the event of a fire
  • There were fire separation issues in storage rooms that led to means of escape and which contained ignition sources
  • There was inadequate routine maintenance or testing of the fire alarm, emergency lighting and firefighting equipment
  • There was no training of staff including the manager

Continue reading

Process Safety

On the morning of the last day of two weeks of intensive training in the Middle East 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

Continue reading

Health and Safety Management – Active Monitoring

Active Monitoring of Health and Safety is vital if an organisation is to avoid catastrophe. Good, solid, and sensible active monitoring help an organisation to avoid disaster by ensuring that the control measures that they believe are keeping them safe actually are keeping them safe. Active monitoring helps to avoid the reality gap: the chasm between what we think is happening and what is really happening.

A few years ago there was a significant prosecution in Scotland based on a failure in the health and safety management of a company, mainly to do with their lack of active monitoring.  This is a very brief summary of the key points of this case.

In common with other important aspects of running a business (e.g. sales, production, finance, quality, etc.) companies need to measure their health and safety management performance to find out if they are being successful. Monitoring may be split into two distinct areas: Active Monitoring and Reactive Monitoring. Most people are familiar with, and comfortable with, the concept of reactive monitoring. Reactive Monitoring is the process of investigation into things that have gone wrong (such as accident investigation) and involves learning from mistakes. These mistakes may have resulted in injuries and illness, property damage or near misses.

Active monitoring is an important aspect of modern health and safety management that appears to be very difficult for some companies to accept and to buy into. It is the things that we do that generally keep employees (and other persons) from harm; but it is the records and documents that we keep (and complete) that help to protect the Company. A Scottish court case from a couple of years ago helps to put this into context.

Continue reading