Category Archives: Health and Safety

HSE prosecution announcement

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has this week informed BAM Nuttall Limited, Ferrovial Agroman (UK) Ltd, and Keir Infrastructure and Overseas Ltd that they will be prosecuted in relation to three incidents that took place during the construction of the new Crossrail railway tunnel construction, which runs east to west across London.

HSE’s website reports that all three companies will appear at Westminster’s Magistrates Court in January 2017 to face four charges, each. Two relating to the death of Rene Tka’cik on the 7 March 2014 and one each relating to injuries to Terrence Hughes on the 16 January and Alex Vizitiu on 22 January 2015.

Roofing firm fined after worker’s ladder fall

HSE’s website carries news of a King’s Lynn roofing company has been prosecuted after a worker fell seven metres from a scaffold access ladder while assisting with chimney repairs.

Kings Lynn Magistrates Court heard how the worker was subcontracted by J Webber Roofing Limited to assist with removing waste, mixing cement and bringing tools up to colleagues who were working on the chimney at a domestic property on Beech Avenue in Kings Lynn on 10 July 2015.

The company had erected a scaffold platform around the chimney with an access ladder attached to it. The worker climbed up the ladder carrying a cement filled bucket with a radio attached to it, on his shoulder. He lost his balance and fell approximately seven metres to the ground. The fall resulted in multiple fractures to both of the worker’s wrists and his lower left arm. He required surgery and steel plates and will never regain full use of his hands.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that J Webber failed to adequately plan work at height which involved manual handling of construction materials and waste up and down scaffold ladders.

J Webber Roofing Limited of 81 Gayton Road, Gaywood, Kings Lynn pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1)(a) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £1,582 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Kasia Urbaniak said: “The risk of falls from ladders is well known. Ladders are being frequently misused where often better specifically designed equipment is easily available.

“This incident which has left a worker without the full use of his hands could have been easily avoided if a ‘gin wheel’ had been installed on the scaffold platform to transport tools and other construction materials”.

£300,000 fine after contractor seriously injured in fragile skylight fall

The HSE have reported London exhibition venue firm, The Business Design Centre Ltd, and a building contractor have been fined for safety failings after a specialist contractor fell through a fragile skylight.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how the Business Design Centre allowed workers to cross an unsafe roof, which contained three fragile skylights and open edges, and failed to prevent contractors crossing the same unsafe roof on a number of occasions.

The court also heard that James Murphy, 64, from Chigwell in Essex, who had been appointed by The Business Design Centre Ltd to undertake repair work at the site, had led a specialist lead contractor over the unsafe roof on 14 May 2015. As he walked over the unsafe roof the lead contractor fell through a skylight, falling 5.5m. He suffered serious injuries including a shattered pelvis, broken wrist, and a broken elbow.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident found that the Business Design Centre failed to ensure that access to and from the areas of the roof which required repair was suitable and safe, and that sufficient measures were in place to protect against the risks of falling from height.

James Murphy failed to ensure that the job of accessing and then inspecting the auditorium roof was properly planned.

The Business Design Centre Limited, of Upper Street, Islington, pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2925,56

James Murphy, of High Road, Chigwell, Essex, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1)(a) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, and was fined £4,000 and also ordered to pay costs of £2925.56

How safe are your gates?

The news has again highlighted potential risks associated with automatic gates and shutters following the death of a woman after an incident involving an automatic door at a car park.

Emergency services were called to reports of a woman who was not breathing at a block of flats in Cambridge at around 7.30pm on Sunday. 

A spokesman for the East of England ambulance service said: “Sadly, there was nothing that could be done for the woman, believed to be in her 40s, who died at the scene.

“Our thoughts go out to her family and friends.”

The incident has been referred to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).  An HSE spokesman confirmed inspectors were assisting police with inquiries.

HSE has highlighted the risks with automatic gates in the past:

In recent years, a number of adults and children have been seriously injured or killed by this type of machinery. The injuries were caused because people have been trapped or crushed by the moving door or gate. All powered doors and gates must be properly designed, installed and maintained to prevent possible injuries.

HSE has worked with Gate Safe® and the Door and Hardware Federation (DHF) to produce advice and guidance on powered gates. You can get specific information on powered doors and gates from their web sites.

Further guidance from the HSE can be found here: http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/powered-gates/introduction.htm

 

Construction firm sentenced after worker falls down a lift pit

HSE inspector has reminded site managers of the need for managing work at height following the successful prosecution of a construction firm after a serious accident.

“There is a clear hierarchy for managing work at height risks, site managers need to prevent it if possible and then provide suitable fixed barriers. Lower-order measures, such as soft-landing systems or the use of harnesses should only be selected as a last resort and if it is safe and appropriate to do so”.

The incident happened on 8 July 2015 at a construction site in Pontcanna, Cardiff.  A specialist drilling contractor, was employed to help refurbish a 73-bed care home when he fell into the basement of a lift pit that was under construction.

The worker stepped onto the ground floor having been working off a tower scaffold, but stood on a loose concrete block causing him to fall backwards, head-first, into a skip full of rubble on the floor below.

A specialist Fire and Rescue team were nearby and after stabilising the casualty, attached him to the hook of a tower crane and winched him out of the pit, over the site and into the carpark of a housing estate nearby where an ambulance was waiting.

The man had suffered shattered vertebrae, five broken ribs, a punctured lung and spent 18 days in hospital. He is still recovering and although not paralysed, his injuries were life-changing and he will not return to work.

HSE investigated the incident and found that the site had been using a system of lightweight barriers around the edges of the drop, along with bean bags at the bottom of the hole, but these were incompatible with all of the work that needed to be done by the different contractors and had been removed. Following the incident, all of the danger areas were fenced with scaffolding.

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Newport Crown Court heard that there were numerous management failings associated with this project, which included a lack of effective site management and supervision, a construction plan that did not properly consider obvious working at height risks and a lack of an effective Temporary Works Management System.

Jehu Project Services Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, Regulation 13(1) and Work at Height Regulations 2005, Regulation 6(3) and was fined £143,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £15,029.30.

HSE Inspector Liam Osborne, who brought the case, said: “Jehu had been given many warnings in the past by HSE about the lack of effective planning, managing and monitoring on their construction sites, as well as warnings about unsafe working at height. The court heard some really positive steps the company are now taking to put these matters right, including making substantial management changes.

“It is crucial that construction firms properly think through the risks involved before starting work, they then need to ensure there is a workable plan to iron-out or manage the resultant dangers.

HSE report consultants and others confused about Legionnaires

HSE have reported via their myth busters panel that some consultants & letting agents misinterpreting landlords responsibilities regarding legionella risks to their tenants.

It is being suggested that some consultants and letting agents are using the revised L8 ACOP to suggest that new legislation has been imposed on landlords of domestic rented properties for managing and controlling the risks of exposure to Legionella bacteria of their tenants. This is wrong, the legislation has not changed and misinformation/misinterpretation can impose unnecessary financial burdens on landlords where they are being charged for legionella testing and certificates they don’t actually need.

Panel opinion

  • There is a legal duty for landlords to assess and control the risk of exposure to legionella bacteria, but Health and Safety law does not require landlords to produce or obtain, nor does HSE recognise, a ‘Legionnaires testing certificate’.
  • Legionella testing (or sampling) is generally not required in domestic hot and cold water systems and then only in exceptional circumstances.
  • Misinterpretation of the legal requirements by some consultants and letting agents about landlords’ responsibilities to manage and control legionella in domestic premises may result in unnecessary financial burdens being placed on landlords and tenants.

They go on to state that the law is clear that if you are a landlord and rent out your property (or even a room within your own home) then you have legal responsibilities to ensure the health and safety of your tenant by keeping the property safe and free from health hazards.

Elderly care home resident died of scalding injuries, court hears

SHP Online has reported details of a case which has resulted in a  care home company based in Middlesex being fined £100,000 after an elderly resident of a Surrey home died from scalding injuries.

European Healthcare Group Plc, of Windsor Street, Uxbridge, Middlesex, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £50,000.

The HSE investigation found that the bathroom taps were not adjusted to limit the temperature of the water to a safe level for bathing and showering.

Guildford Crown Court heard how the 89-year-old was receiving personal care from two employees of European Healthcare Group Plc at Old Wall Cottage Nursing Home when she received significant scalding injuries, and subsequently died of her injuries in hospital.

The HSE’s investigation into the incident found staff training and communication contributed to the failures in procedures which led to the resident’s death.

HSE inspector Michelle Canning said after the hearing: “This tragic and preventable incident highlights the responsibility that all care providers have to protect the safety of people in their care. People who live in residential care and nursing homes are amongst some of the most vulnerable in our society and rely on others to provide a safe environment for them to live in.

“All healthcare premises have a legal duty to control the risks of scalding injuries from bathing or showering and there is guidance that is well established and simple to implement.”

Ban on throwing mortar boards is a tired health and safety myth

Back in May it was widely reported that a university planned to ban their students  from throwing mortar boards in the air on graduation day for health and safety reasons. HSE has provided a response to this age-old myth:

Geoff Cox, who heads the Health and Safety Executive public sector team, said: “You’d think universities would study history and do a bit of research before repeating tired health and safety myths like this one. The banning of mortar board tossing on supposed ‘health and safety’ grounds is one of our most popular myths and actually appears in our Top 10 all-time worst health and safety excuses.

“As far back as 2008, HSE made clear the law does not stop graduates having fun and celebrating their success in the time-honoured fashion. The chance of being injured by a flying mortar board is incredibly small and it’s over-the-top to impose an outright ban. We usually find the concern is actually about the hats being returned in good condition.”

£1million fine after young worker killed by exploding tyre

The Health and Safety Executive have reported that a Kent tyre company has been sentenced for safety failings after 21-year-old Matthew Hoare, from Canterbury was killed when a tyre exploded.

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Canterbury Crown Court heard how Matthew, an employee of Watling Tyre Service Limited of Kent, was repairing a puncture to the tyre of a ‘dresser loading shovel’ when it exploded.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Matthew was working on his own with inadequate work equipment which was not properly maintained. He was not trained or competent to undertake the work he was told to complete.

After the hearing, HSE Principal Inspector Mike Walters said: “Employees need to be provided with properly maintained equipment and the correct equipment to undertake tasks whilst out on site. Employees also need to be trained and competent in the tasks they were asked to undertake.”

Watling Tyre Service Limited pleaded guilty, at a previous hearing on 29 January 2016, to breaches of Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 were today fined £1 million and ordered to pay costs of £99,485.

Fatal roof fall

A fatal roof fall has highlighted both the need for suitable risk assessment and on site supervision of workers.  This tragic incident has led to a Birmingham maintenance company being successfully prosecuted and fined.

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Birmingham Crown Court heard how H20 Plumbing Services Limited were contracted to carry out repairs to two motor rooms situated on the roof of a building on Hagley Road, Birmingham.

Two workers set up a station immediately outside of a protected area in which to mix some mortar due to lack of space. The mixing station consisted of a tarpaulin sheet placed on top of the roof with a plasterer’s bath placed on top. The corners of the tarpaulin sheet were weighted down with bags of rubble.

At the end of the working day, the employees were cleaning up and as they moved the mixing bath, the sheet of tarpaulin blew open due to the wind and landed over the edge of the building. As one of the workers attempted to retrieve the sheet he stepped off the side of the building, falling 14 metres, suffering fatal injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident which occurred on 10 October 2014 found that H20 Plumbing Services Limited failed to ensure the safety of its employees during the external repair work.

After the incident, HSE Inspector Amy Kalay is reported to have said: “This incident was obviously foreseeable. The employees of H20 working at the site were effectively left to their own devices with equipment and a system that was not wholly suited for the task at hand.

“A suitable and sufficient assessment of the risk, suitable planning, implementation of suitable control measures and adequate and effective site supervision would have prevented this incident from occurring.”

H20 Plumbing Services Limited, of Lee Trading Estate, College Road, Perry Barr, Birmingham pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £25,000.