Lack of experience leads to Principal Contractor being fined £360k

Both a Principal Contractor and other contractors have been fined following a worker falling over 7 metres through a fragile roof which was being replaced.

Our belief is that the client was lucky not to be prosecuted as a key requirement on them is to ensure that those they appoint are competent and adequately resourced – a point of note for all clients.  If the case had been heard under the 2015 Regs the client would also be likely to have been found guilty.

Rafal Myslimm was standing on a asbestos sheeting when this gave way and he fell to the concrete floor below, as he fell he hit a number of metal pipes – no safety netting or other fall protection had been provided, he suffered a haematoma to the brain.

HSE found that three companies were at fault, Dengie Crops Ltd had contracted Ernest Doe & Sons Ltd, an agricultural machinery supplier, to help the company replace their roof.  However, they recognised that they themselves lacked the appropriate experience and subcontracted the work to Balsham ( Buildings) Ltd.

Balsham assessed the requirements and subsequently subcontracted the replacement work to Strong Clad Ltd.. However, Ernest Doe & Sons Ltd remained the Principal Contractor under the CDM Regulations but were unable to perform this role effectively due to their lack of experience in construction, it shoudl be noted that Balsham had highlighted to them the risk of a fall.

Outcomes

None of the three parties involved put in place safety measures for the 40% of the roof which was not protected with safety netting and relied too heavily on the verbal briefings to workers regarding where the netting was situated, rather than simply putting in place these measures for the whole roof.

  • Ernest Doe & Sons Ltd – of Ulting, Essex, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 22 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and were fined £360,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,000
  • Balsham (Buildings) Ltd – of Balsham, Cambridge, pleaded guilty to breaching 4(1)(a) and 4(1)(c) of the Work at Height Regulation 2005. They were fined £45,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,000
  • Strong Clad Ltd – of Castle Hedingham, Essex, pleaded guilty to breaching 4(1)(a) and 4(1)(c) of the Work at Height Regulation 2005. They were fined £7,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,000

HSE inspector Adam Hills said:

“The dangers of working on fragile roofs are well documented. Every year too many people are killed or seriously injured due to falls from height while carrying out this work.

Work at height requires adequate planning, organisation and communication between all parties. This incident was entirely preventable and Mr Myslim is lucky to be alive.”

Contact us on 01453 800100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use contact us above or the form below to request a proposal;

Form Not Exist.

University experiment safety error almost costs two students their lives

We work for a number of education establishments and the risks within them are diverse, its a challenge for a person or a small team to manage each of them.

This example represents a situation which could arise in any number of similar organisations when risk isn’t adequately controlled, the consequences here could have been very serious, all the way to a very possible dual fatality.

University makes near fatal error

The experiment involved the study of the effects of caffeine, a substance which we typically experience in tea and to a larger extent coffee.  Caffeine is a stimulant which affects the central nervous system and is a good example of a chemical which we sometimes given less respect to than it deserves (largely due to our continued use of it within society, suffice to say that too much can have serious effects on your health.

Caffeine has uses within sports science and it was within that department that the exposure took place.  The two students were intended to be part of an experiment which studied the effects of the substance, in terms of sports performance, on two volunteers.

Each cup of coffee contains, on average, 0.1mg of caffeine and the intention was to administer 0.3mg of caffeine through a drink.  However, we understand that two issues lead to a near fatal mistake.

  1. The method required the use of caffeine in tablet form and none being available a powdered alternative was found;
  2. The staff did not posses the necessary competence to follow the method, were inexperienced in similar work and had received no instruction on the method from others;
  3. An error was made in the calculation which meant that the dose was measured as 30mg, 100X the intended amount of 0.3mg which is equivalent to 3 cups of coffee

To put this in perspective, a death had previously been reported after ingestion of 18mg of pure caffeine and the effects on the two students were almost immediate including;

  • dizziness
  • blurred vision
  • vomiting
  • shaking
  • rapid heartbeat.

They were rushed to hospital where their conditions were considered life threatening, dialysis was required to rid their bodies of the excessive levels of caffeine.

One student was kept in hospital for six days, reported short-term memory loss and lost 26.5lb (12kg) in weight, the second student treated for two days in intensive care and losing 22lb (10kg) in weight.

The key issue here was a failure to see the real risk.  An error of this type could easily result in death, given that this, the highest of risks was a real possibility the University should have put far more controls in place.  in truth, the two students were likely only saved by their youth and physical fitness.

Contact us on 01453 800100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use contact us above or the form below to request a proposal;

Form Not Exist.

Slips on a Icy Path… A Case Law example

As we have a cold weather front approaching and some real winter may well be approaching… that leads us to the old stories and tales about slips on ice and who is responsible.

Most of what we hear from good intentioned colleagues has to be taken with a pinch of salt – even advice from experts can be somewhat hit and miss.

We can argue that ice is naturally occurring but case law leads us to recommend that anti slip overshoes or similar may be a wise investment for some staff, particularly those visiting homes without the benefit industrial footwear.

Read on below for some case law to shed some light on the matter.

Kennedy v Cordia

This is one of the most significant cases in this area and concerns a care home worker who, in December 2010, slipped on a path. She had been making an essential visit during that period of very cold weather, wearing flat shoes with some ridging of the soles but they were not a match for the icy path conditions.  She fell and broke her wrist and the case was eventually heard at the Scottish Court of Session in August 2013 where the Court found in her favour and against her employer, Cordia (Services) LLP.

However, her employer appealed the case and was successful in its defence BUT the case was then referred to the Supreme Court which then concluded that Cordia (Services) LLP were liable after all.  Hope you are following this so far!

The above gives some insight into both the legal process and the difficulty of the courts in deciding who is actually at fault. The key issue was the fact that icy conditions had been identified as a risk AND that similar accidents had occurred in the past, this meant that ice could be seen then as an obvious hazard affecting the worker.

One other key fact was that staff were advised to wear appropriate footwear but that this was not specified in terms of what appropriate was.  Other similar businesses (mostly larger ones) had begun to provide anti slip over shoes (Yaktrax and similar) and it was decided that their provision would have been reasonable to expect in the circumstances.  The company was found guilty under the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992.

Contact us on 01453 800100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use contact us above or the form below to request a proposal;

Form Not Exist.

PPE: Can staff bring in their own?

This is an interesting question which sometimes arises for the hundreds of clients we support across the UK.  Imagine that a new employee starts working at your business or a temporary employee becomes permanent and they already have their own Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Given the links back to the Health and Safety At Work Act and its requirement not to charge employees for protective equipment some staff can become confused on whether this is actually permitted.  Looking in more detail at the specific regulations covering PPE leads us to Regulation 4 of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 which states that employers have a duty to “ensure that suitable PPE is provided” to employees who need it.

Can staff bring their own PPE to work?

Looking at the above you can see that if you haven’t provided PPE that isn’t the issue but you do have to ensure that it’s correct for the job.  The key issue here relates to suitability and here are a few instances which you may like to check;

  • Safety boots provide the right slip resistance and protection – mid sole protection for example;
  • Respiratory protection is adequate and will give protection from the dusts or vapours encountered (FFP rating);
  • Eye protection is adequate (impact rating or chemical protective);
  • Hard hats are within your requirements for manufacture date (typically 3-5 years from manufacture depending on your policy.

One final thing to remember is that fake PPE is surprisingly common, particularly when individuals buy PPE from the internet at a reduced cost, and individuals are likely to be more cost sensitive.

The final choice is yours, if you’re in a higher risk industry you may wish to start afresh with issuing equipment which you know to be right for the job.  If on the other hand if you’re an occasional user of PPE you may well not need to go to the expense of issuing new equipment if an employee can bring suitable items themselves.

Don’t forget, once they do work for you you will need to pay for the supply of their PPE.

Contact us on 01453 800100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use contact us above or the form below to request a proposal;

Form Not Exist.

Occupational Health: Alveolitis in Metal Working

Health is becoming the central thrust of any HSE visit and with good reason, health causes a huge impact on individuals and a massive strain on our NHS. However, not all safety professionals are aware of these risks well enough to control them and that’s where expert, external, independent advice can be invaluable.

Alveolitis is a condition of the lung caused by the inhalation of the mist created by metal working fluid when machining – particularly at higher speeds.

The Hazards of Metal Working Fluids (MWF)

Exposure to MWF can be hazardous in several ways but dermatitis from skin contact and lung problems from inhalation are the two major issues.  Biocides are often introduced into MWF’s to stop bacterial growth and this gives the clue about what can happen to the lungs when a fine mist is inhaled by workers.

Over a period of time workers may develop a number of ill health conditions including;

  • bronchitis;
  • irritation of the upper respiratory tract;
  • occupational asthma;
  • or, most seriously, extrinsic allergic alveolitis (EEA).

If you use MWF then seek to control exposure by minimising the volume and rate of delivery at the cutting point or seek to capture mist or enclose it within CNC machines.  If you use a small bright torch with a focusing beam you may be able to seek where and how mist is rising from the process – we issue these torches for free to our clients so if you need one please ask – we’ve helped many businesses with this simple tool.

Consider also your current health surveillance provision – if you need any help and support we can provide skilled practitioners to help you put a robust health surveillance plan in place – just call us on 01453 800100 for more detail and read here for a case study involving a major aerospace company which was recently fined £800,000

Contact us on 01453 800100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use contact us above or the form below to request a proposal;

Form Not Exist.

Major aerospace company receives £800,000 fine for occupational ill health

Martin Baker Aircraft Company has been fined £800,000 after three of its workers developed Extrinsic Allergic Alveolitis (EEA).

EEA is often caused when workers inhale contaminated metal working fluids as a mist when high speed machining is taking place, these fluids can provide a home for bacteria and other organisms to breed and lead to serious and ongoing illness.

Extrinsic Allergic Alveolitis

EEA is a condition which causes the small air scacs within the lungs (alveoli) to become inflamed in an allergic reaction. Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath and joint pain.

The three workers suffering from the condition had been exposed to MWF mist for three years and were among a group of 60 staff which the HSE found to have been put at risk. One of the workers was said to have become virtually paralysed by the illness and the two others have become restricted in the types of work they can undertake in future as they must now avoid contact with the substance.

HSE investigation leads to massive fine

The HSE investigated and found that Martin Baker Aircraft Company (MBAC) had not done enough to reduce the risk with no system of cleaning away the excess fluid and a lack of extraction to prevent the build-up of MWF mist. In addition, they found that there was also a lack of health surveillance (required under Regulation 11 of COSHH.

In court MBAC pleaded guilty to breaching s.2 (1)Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Reg 6(1) Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 . It was fined £800,000 with £36,912 in costs – one of the highest ever penalties for occupational health offences.

Contact us on 01453 800100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use contact us above or the form below to request a proposal;

Form Not Exist.

Precast Concrete: ‘Barring’ of floor units causes major injuries and £33k fine

The use of pinch or crowbars to move components is a common practice in precast concrete erection.  Components should be positioned as close as possible to minimise the need for it but there is often a need for some adjustment whether to ensure that the component reaches the right position or to tighten up a floor after laying.

If you have any questions on barring we would recommend you read the Precast flooring Federations Code of Practice for the Safety Installation of Precast Concrete Floors and Associated Components available here.

The incident to which the title refers occurred in December 2014 when Walter Thompson (Contractors) Limited, a construction company from Northallerton, was engaged as Principal Contractor for a 47 bedroom extension of the Ramside Hall Hotel, Durham.

£33,000 fine under CDM Regulations

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident found that the company had failed to adequately plan and manage the installation of the two-floor slabs.

The defendants pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 22(1)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and was fined £33,000 with £12,552.81 costs.

Contact us on 01453 800100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use contact us above or the form below to request a proposal;

Contact form

Please complete the form below and we promise to respond within 24 hrs. If you need more urgent help just call 01453 800109 and ask for Andrea.

HSE to Issue Construction Sector Plan for 2017 – 2022: emphasis on CDM 2015 compliance

HSEThe Board of HSE met in December to discuss draft sectors plans for construction for the coming 3-5 year period, the summary of the points for consideration are listed below with the emphasis being placed on Health, Smaller Business and CDM 2015;

HSE Priorities

  1. Health Hazards – reducing incidents of ill-health, with a particular focus on occupational lung disease and musculoskeletal disorders;
  2. Small Businesses – supporting small businesses to achieve improved risk management and control; and
  3. CDM Regulations 2015 – embedding the principles of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM).

HSE will secure effective management and control of risk by:

  • Project Regulation – directing inspection and enforcement at those failing to manage and control risks, focusing on health risks refurbishment, and licenced asbestos removal;
  • Central interventions – visiting dutyholders to review their health risk management arrangements using leading indicators in the Construction Health Risks Toolkit; and
  • CDM 2015 Pre-Construction Phase – intervening with construction clients, principal designers and designers to ensure proportionate CDM understanding and compliance, working with or through other health and safety regulators (eg ONR) where necessary.

HSE will lead and engage with others to improve workplace health and safety by:

  • Health Ownership – working with the Health in Construction Leadership Group in promoting the ownership by industry of good health risk management, and the development of case studies and health-specific leading indicators;
  • Awareness Research – funding communication insight research enabling improved risk awareness, management and mitigation in small and micro businesses;
  • CDM 2015  for SMEs – helping small businesses to comply proportionately with CDM, eg case studies on social media;
  • Designer Risk Mitigation – working with professional bodies to enhance the competence of designers through the effective teaching of design risk mitigation across built environment higher education courses;
  • BIM Promotion – demonstrating the effective use of building information modelling (BIM) to improve risk information sharing, coordination and collaboration throughout the construction process; and
  • Manual Handling – working with supply chains to reduce risks from manual handling.

HSE will reduce the likelihood of low-frequency, high-impact catastrophic incidents by:

  • Major Projects – early and strategic interventions with major projects, including Crossrail, HS2, Thames Tideway, power generation decommissioning and new build; and
  • Risk Leadership – working with industry to develop clear standards of construction risk leadership and leading performance.

Contact us on 01453 800100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use contact us above or the form below to request a proposal;

Contact form

Please complete the form below and we promise to respond within 24 hrs. If you need more urgent help just call 01453 800109 and ask for Andrea.

Polishing on lathes still causing injuries at work, £400k fine

When you start out in health and safety you usually end up on a 10 day NEBOSH Certificate and this is often taught in a college.  You all file down to an old engineering workshop and are told about holding emery cloth on lathes and the terrible injuries it can cause.

However, you suspect that when you get into industry proper you won’t see such an obvious breach of the Regs and good common sense… how wrong you were.

These accidents are as old as lathes themselves but we’re still seeing the awful injuries which result from them, read on to find out more and perhaps make this the subject of a toolbox talk or take a quick walk down to engineering and just do a double check for used pieces of emery cloth…

Cammell Laird Shiprepairers and Shipbuilders Ltd has been fined £400,000 after a workman suffered serious injuries whilst carrying out repair work on a lathe.

The 59 year old worker from Ellesmere Port suffered fractures and crush injuries to his right hand and was off work for 5 months after carrying out repair work to a lathe the 20th July 2015.

Liverpool Magistrates Court heard  on 5 December that while he was repairing the lathe  he noticed that the shafts and couplings were dirty decided to clean these parts by wrapping an emery cloth around the lead screw with the lathe under power.   This resulted in the rotating machine parts pulling him to the moving parts of the machine.

The company pleaded guilty to a breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £400,000 And ordered to pay costs of £7,683.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Karen Fearon said:

“The Defendant had developed a Health and Safety Management System (HSMS) but failed to ensure that the system had permeated all parts of the organisation. If the HSMS had been followed this accident may not have occurred.

Maintenance was being carried out on machinery which was energised whilst someone was in the dangerous part of that machine. There was no lock off, poor control and poor management. Prior to maintenance the equipment was not shutdown, isolated and residual energy released and secured with a means to prevent inadvertent reconnection (e.g. by locking off with a padlock) as it should have been.”

Contact us on 01453 800100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use contact us above or the form below to request a proposal;

Contact form

Please complete the form below and we promise to respond within 24 hrs. If you need more urgent help just call 01453 800109 and ask for Andrea.

English as a foreign language

Firstly, a Happy New Year to all our clients, friends and contacts.  Sitting over the Christmas period gives you time to think on a few things and with Brexit still being a point of discussion I was thinking of the foreign workers who continue to provide a huge amount of resource in our country.

From our health service to construction and agriculture there exists a diverse community or workers to whom we owe a duty of care.  Some of these staff can read and write English as well as us native speakers but many struggle with the finer points of understanding.  This presents a problem for us safety professionals in terms of communication.

To help us to gain perspective on this I found the list of peculiarities of the English language below, have a read through and you will start to appreciate the challenges faced by colleagues who are don’t have English as their first language.  If you can share this with your managers and supervisors it might help make us all more aware and, with that, more understanding and willing to help.

Happy New Year.

  1. The bandage was wound around the wound.
  2. The farm was used to produce produce.
  3. The dump was so full it had to refuse more refuse.
  4. We must polish the Polish furniture.
  5. He could lead if he would get the lead out.
  6. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
  7. Since there was no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
  8. A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
  9. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
  10. I did not object to the object.
  11. There was a row among the oarsmen on how to row.
  12. They were too close to the door to close it.
  13. The buck does funny things when does are present.
  14. A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
  15. To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
  16. The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
  17. After a number of injections my jaw got number.
  18. Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
  19. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

Contact us on 01453 800100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use contact us above or the form below to request a proposal;

Contact form

Please complete the form below and we promise to respond within 24 hrs. If you need more urgent help just call 01453 800109 and ask for Andrea.