Tag Archives: OSHCR Registered Consultant

Welding of drums or other vessels – the potential for explosion

Lots of businesses which we visit have an oil drum or two lying around the workplace.  It may seems like a good idea to make use of one of these unwanted items and we’ve seen them made into bins and even barbecues.

However, depending on what used to be inside them cutting them open or welding something onto them can result in a powerful explosion.  If you want some more information of what we mean by this take a look at the video from WorkSafeBC; Drum Explodes During Welding, Killing Worker

The problem in this instance was that the original substance, acetone, a solvent used in the manufacture of fiberglass items and many other productions, remained in the vessel. Even a trace amount after the drum was washed through could still be present in sufficient quantity to create an explosive atmosphere. in the case of the video above this was less than a tea spoonful of the original acetone.

Looking at the safety aspects here you can see how likely it is that vapours will remain, even after washing out a drum.  Add into that the heat generated by cutting, grinding or welding the drum allowing the remaining substance to ‘gas off’ and you have a potential bomb on your hands.

The best route to reducing risk is to avoid this situation altogether but sometimes people do need to work in situations where welding will need to take place.  If you can’t avoid it then make yourself familiar with the best practices to reduce risk.

For more information please have a read through the free HSE guidance on the subject here;  Hot work on small tanks and drums INDG314(rev1)

Most importantly, consider if you really need to do this.  Replacing rather than repairing may be your better option.  If you do need to make repairs don’t forget that cold cutting or cold repair techniques may also be an option and will avoid the key risk of hot works and potential explosions.

As always, if you need advice then please call us quoting your Safety~net membership number or company name and we’ll be pleased to offer some more specific advice.

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.

Failings in formwork safety leads to further injuries and fines

Formwork safety continues to be an area in which many sites could improve.  There are a range of courses out there which give useful qualification and skills in the management of formwork and falsework risk.  A good example of this would be the Temporary Works Supervisor Training Course (TWSTC) available from CITB.
For more information on this course see this link; TWSTC

Erector fell 3m after access scaffold board failed under load

Sager Construction Limited (SCL) and Shaun Dixon Services Ltd (SDSL) have been fined when an employee fell more than 3m when a scaffold board he was standing on failed.

Southwark Crown Court heard SCL had been appointed Principal Contractor under the CDM 2007 Regulations for the construction of a shopping centre and residential units.

On the 19 February 2015 the 64-year old employee of formwork contractor SDSL was installing a primary beam in the basement when he fell from the top of the work platform.  He  suffered fractures to both of his feet and deep cuts to his head and arms as a result.

Dangerous boards and poor working practices

On investigation the Health and Safety Executive found that operatives worked from boards which were in a poor condition. It was also revealed that particularly poor practices took place in relation to work at height

Sager Construction Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 22 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, and was fined £34,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,577.

Shaun Dixon Services Ltd was also found guilty of breaching Regulation 13 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 at an earlier date.

The company has since entered liquidation but was fined £160,000 and ordered to pay costs of £15,119.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Gabriella Dimitrov said:

“The worker is lucky to have not sustained more serious injuries as a result of this fall from height.

It is entirely foreseeable that accidents will occur where work at height is being carried out without suitable work platforms and other measures to prevent workers from falling.

HSE will take action to ensure that duty holders are held to account for any failings.”

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.

Hand arm vibration (HAV) – are you really managing the risk?

All of us have our pet subjects.  Some of us do tend to bury our heads in the sand for areas in which we’re not as competent.  You may, if you are honest with yourself, have a hit list of subjects which you mean to ‘review’ at some stage.

Local IOSH groups or similar can be a really good place to start in tackling these issues.  Other professionals will have been there before and will have found out its really not as bad as you might think.

Once area we think you should look at afresh is controlling the risk from vibration.  We’ve been involved in assessments for many years now so if you need some help and advice just let us know.  If you’re still looking for that ‘good reason’ to make a start read the case below….

Company fined for failing to manage vibration risks

Newfield Fabrications Company, a manufacturer of steel components based in Cheshire, was fined £120,000 for failing to ensure that the risks to employees were adequately controlled.

Manchester and Salford Magistrates Court heard that in late 2015 the welder, who had worked at the company for several years, was given a job that involved a large amount of grinding and polishing.

After a few hours on the job, he began to experience numbness and tingling, commonly an indicator of exposure to high levels of vibration.  He asked to swap with another worker but he was told by his supervisor to carry on with the work.

A few weeks later, a 20 year old apprentice welder also began to suffer from vibration-related symptoms after using similar equipment.

An HSE investigation found that Newfield Fabrications failed to control employees’ exposure to hand arm vibration. The firm also failed to give its employees sufficient information, instruction and training on the effects of working with vibrating hand tools.

Newfield Fabrications pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 6(1) and 8(1) of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations.

According to the company’s accounts, it had a turnover of £7.7m in 2016 and made a pre-tax profit of £118,826.00 and so the £120,000.00 fine plus the £7241.00 costs is a significant sum for its Directors to find.

HSE inspector Helen Jones said:

“This is a case of the company failing to protect workers using vibrating tools. Exposure to hand arm vibration is a well-known risk which the company failed to adequately control.

“The company also failed to ensure workers were looked after when symptoms did arise leading to further exposure. This was wholly inadequate, and led to two employees suffering significant health effects.”

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.

Focus on structural safety

Working in a safety role means that you come across a diverse range and issues.  We work with the whole range of construction site specialists and spotting risk is part of engaging in conversations with each stakeholder.

If, like us, you’re of the opinion that every day is a school day then this site is likely to hold information you’ll benefit from knowing; http://www.structural-safety.org

Every report sent in is treated in confidence and it provides a means to share information so that all of us benefit from risks spotted by others across our industry and across the world.

Take a look at the site but also review the latest newsletter here; July 2017 CROSS Newsletter No 47

To give a flavour of the information you’ll be able to access see the list below;

  • Polyethylene core cladding panels used on residential high-rise building;
  • Steel canopy collapse during building completion works;
  • Unacceptable quality of construction and lack of supervision on a block of flats;
  • Steel balconies fixed to precast hollowcore floor planks;
  • Near miss – spalled concrete falling from rear face of drilled hole 26 floors up;
  • Failure of fabricated access staging board;
  • Designer competency and missing rebar; and
  • Inability of roller shutter doors to meet the pressure specification for dominant openings.

If you need help and assistance with health and safety from the Principal Designer role under the CDM regulations through to specific help with your own safety management please do get in touch or call us on 01453 800100

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.

Construction deaths hit a record low

HSEIt’s great to be able to report some good news and I’m happy to be able to call it that.  We all qualify each improvement with an immediate caveat of ‘but many others still suffered death or injury which could have been avoided.  Lets not be afraid to say well done to everyone which helped drive these accidents down.

Its a very hard task to reach further improvements and yes, we do still have some way to go and we will get there.  For everyone which has put their time and trouble and resources behind driving down these risks – well done.

Health and safety statistics updated for 2017

Provisional data released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reveals that 133 workers were fatally injured between April 2013 and March 2014, compared with 150 in 2012/13.

The overall rate of fatal injury has now dropped to 0.44 per 100,000 workers, compared to 0.51 in 2012/13.

Judith Hackitt, the HSE Chair, commented;

“The release of the annual statistics always leads to mixed emotions. Sadness for the loss of 133 lives, and sympathy for their families, friends and workmates, but also a sense of encouragement that we continue to make progress in reducing the toll of suffering.

“Whilst these are only provisional figures, they confirm Britain’s performance in health and safety as world class. For the last eight years we have consistently recorded one of the lowest rates of fatal injuries to workers among the leading industrial nations in Europe.”

Minister of State for Health and Safety, Mike Penning, said

“Any death at work is a death too many. But these statistics show that workplaces are getting safer.

“The Health and Safety Executive do an excellent job in making sure each and every one of us can go out to do an honest day’s work in the knowledge that our safety is being taken seriously.”

The new figures also show the rate of fatal injuries in several key industrial sectors:

  • There were 42 fatal injuries to workers in construction, lower than the average figure of 46. The latest rate of fatal injury is 1.98 per 100, 000 workers, compared to a five-year average of 2.07.
  • There were 27 fatal injuries to workers in agriculture, lower than the average of 33 for the previous five years. The rate of fatal injury in 2013/14 is 8.77, compared to the five-year average rate of 9.89.
  • There were 4 fatal injuries to workers in waste and recycling, lower than the average count of 7 over the last five years. The latest rate of 3.33 deaths per 100, 000 compares to an average rate of 5.48

In the last five years, the number of fatal injuries has fallen overall from 179 in 2009, to 147, 175, 171 to 150 in 2013.

Based on the latest available data, from 2011, Britain continues to have the lowest rate of fatal injuries to workers among the five leading industrial nations in Europe – Germany, France, Spain and Italy for the eighth year. Across Great Britain:

  • 106 fatal injuries in England were recorded – a rate of 0.41 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to an average of 134 deaths in the past five years and a decrease from the 119 deaths (and rate of 0.47) recorded in 2012/13
  • 20 fatal injuries in Scotland were recorded – a rate of 0.78 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to an average of 21 deaths in the past five years and a decrease from the 23 deaths (and rate of 0.90) recorded in 2012/13
  • 7 fatal injuries in Wales were recorded – a rate of 0.52 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to an average of 10 deaths in the past five years and a decrease from the 8 deaths (and rate of 0.61) recorded in 2012/13

HSE has also today released the latest number of deaths from mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. These show that 2,535 people died in 2012, which is an increased from 2,291 in 2011.

Judith Hackitt said

“The high numbers of deaths relating to mesothelioma are a reminder of historically poor standards of workplace health and safety, which decades later are causing thousands of painful, untimely deaths each year. While we now recognise and are better positioned to manage such health risks, these statistics are a stark reminder of the importance of keeping health standards in the workplace on a par with those we apply to safety.”

HSE is due to launch an asbestos campaign in Autumn 2014 that aims to help at-risk tradespeople, such as roofers and builders, work more safely with asbestos to protect themselves from harm.

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.

Highly flammable liquids fire burns spray booth operator

We have to be truthful and admit that we sometimes carry out tasks which in hindsight we could have done with far less risk.  It could be driving to work or what we do at home at the weekend away from the eyes of our colleagues and managers.

The case below highlights how susceptible we are to complacency.  We work with items everyday which carry with them great risks but we rarely suffer consequences for taking shortcuts. That in turn leads to greater and greater risk taking until an accident finally occurs.  Read the case below to find out what happened in this instance.

A paint manufacturing company in Manchester has been fined for health and safety failings after a worker suffered burns while trying to clean the floor of a spray booth.

Manchester Crown Court heard how an employee of HMG Paints Ltd was using a highly flammable solvent to clean the floor of a spray booth on site, a job he had done several times since the spray booth was installed.

After complaints about how difficult it was to remove the dried paint he was allowed to purchase an industrial floor scrubber to carry out the task. On 18 November 2014 electric motor on the floor scrubber ignited the cloud of flammable vapour that had built up in the spray booth.

The employee was seriously injured, receiving 26% burns, and was treated at the specialist burns unit at Wythenshawe Hospital.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the planning for cleaning floors using solvent failed to recognise the hazards and level of risk associated with the use of highly flammable solvents to clean floors. The employee who was injured had not been trained to clean floors and was not adequately supervised when carrying out the cleaning activity.

HMG Paints Limited, of Collyhurst Road, Manchester, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £39,669.40.

Speaking after the case HSE inspector David Myrtle said:

“This is a company that handles large quantities of flammable solvent, the hazards are well known and the company has a duty to control the risks arising from the hazards.

“It was custom and practice to clean floors using highly flammable solvents applied using a mop and bucket. In this instance the company failed to adequately control the risks and an employee was seriously injured.” [source HSE]

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.

Could Health and Safety Fines rise even higher? Probably….

HSEWe have seen fines for health and safety offences increases by 10-15 x their former levels since the Sentencing Guidelines were introduced in 2016 (see our earlier article for more information).

A recent article by Dr Simon Joyston-Bechal of Turnstone Law discusses sentences applying to individuals who have put cost cutting before safety being increased to 8 or more years in prison.  More worryingly, where the two aspects for consideration under the existing sentencing guidelines are triggered you could also be moved into the very high category with a starting point of 12 years in jail (and a range of 10-18 years).

These are in consultation at present on the Sentencing Councils website and it seems from the examples used that the Council would wish to see higher fines introduced in the case of health and safety offences.  They are not law yet but it does look increasingly likely that these revisions will make it through to becoming law.

You can read the article in more detail on the SHP website here; Gross negligence manslaughter: ‘Sit up & take note’ as jail terms increase

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.

Oxygen explosion causes worker severe injury and costs firm £1m fine

Oxygen is used throughout many sectors of industry and healthcare.  This common element can be taken for granted as we are so familiar with its name and its use.

Are you aware that;

  1. increasing the concentration of oxygen in air from its normal 21% to just 24% can make an enormous difference  in how easily items will catch light;
  2. They will also be far harder to put out once they are burning and will burn much more fiercely;
  3. Oxygen which is pure and at high pressure (from a cylinder or supply line for example) can react spontaneously with oils, greases and other materials causing them to catch light;
  4. Nearly all materials including textiles, rubber and even metals will burn vigorously in the presence of pure oxygen.

More information on all of the above and the correct precautions which must be in place can be found here; http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg459.pdf

Below is an accident which illustrates the dangers of bad practices around oxygen.  If you need helps and support on these and other issues please do contact us for more information.

Case Law: Oxygen Pipe Explosion

Sheffield Crown court heard that work was carried out by an in-house contractor to fit a valve to an oxygen pipe that carried 99.9 per cent pure oxygen in August 2013

The worker was checking the work when he heard hissing from the valve. When investigating the noise, the pipe and valve erupted in flames causing the person to suffer 60- 70 per cent burns.

As a result of the severe injuries he suffered he was initially not expected to survive and underwent several skin grafts whilst being kept in a coma for several weeks.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the oxygen pipe had been fitted with contaminated second-hand flanges and butterfly valves containing materials unsuitable for use with oxygen.

Sheffield Forgemasters Engineering Limited of Brightside Lane, Sheffield pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and were fined £1,000,000 with £58,000 costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Carol Downes commented: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simple carrying out correct control measure and safe work practices.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standard.”

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.

What’s the best way to move gas cylinders?

Moving gas cylinders in your workplace – the hazards

We see gas cylinders in use across the wide range of clients we visit.  Some will use cylinders to power their MHE (Materials Handling Equipment) and some will be using gases to complete welding and cutting operations as part of their production process.

We’ve written blogs in the past about cylinders and safety measures but not about their actual handling (see here for an accident linked to this post).

To lift or not to lift; that is the question

The key issue with cylinders and their movement relates to handling and lifting.  Many workplaces are equipped with various handling equipment and its tempting to use one of a number of means to lift cylinders.  It’s also quite tempting to manually handle cylinders into position when the distances aren’t too great.

The risks of lifting cylinders

We’ve seen in real life a number of situations where a high risk method has been used to move cylinders, check through the examples below and see if you recognise any of these from your past experience of perhaps even your own site;

  1. Manual handling by churning (rolling on the base);
    1. This is a valid method but what about tall and heavy cylinders and moving them through a cluttered and busy workplace? One drop can cause significant damage to the cylinder, or even the valve, creating a ballistic missile capable of passing through walls!  The is suitable for short movements of easily handled cylinders only (<5m).
  2. Lifting using fork lift truck attachments;
    1. This is fine if the cylinders are safely stored on a pallet or cradle but using attachments such as barrel clamps, scissor clamps or magnets – this can damage the cylinder walls with catastrophic consequences.
  3. Lifting using the valve shroud or valve itself;
    1. Lifting on the valve shroud can cause it to detach from the cylinder, it’s just not designed for a suspension lift.
    2. Lifting on the valve it certainly a very bad idea – again, its not designed for this and could lead to leaks, sudden failure and may of course slip from the lifting sling – this is the highest risk and must always be avoided.

What should you do?

In simple terms follow the guidance  issued by the BCGA, which you can download here; BCGA TIS 28

If you still have questions perhaps now is a good time to ask an experienced consultant from Outsource Safety to review your current procedures.  We can visit and carry out specific risk assessments or even a comprehensive Gap Analysis in line with the requirements of the internationally recognised Management Standard OHSAS18001, contact us for more information.

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.

Case Law: Diversion of workers to maintenance tasks

It can be tempting to allow staff, particularly those who are helpful and keen, to undertake others tasks within your workplace.  You can sometimes hear a staff member state “I could have sorted that for you!”

When you have staff which have worked in other roles through  a diverse career and the work seems reasonably straightforward it can seem like you’re able to make a significant saving or get the work carried out more quickly.

However, you should also consider the lessons which can be learnt from the case below and many like it.

Kent based Erith Haulage Company Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of The Work at Height Regulations 2005, was fined £215,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £10,622 after an employee fell four and a half metres through a fragile skylight onto a concrete floor while cleaning a roof.

The cleaning was undertaken by two drivers, requested by the company’s foreman and took place on the weekend of the 17 and 18 January 2015.

A Mobile Elevated Work Platform (MEWP) was hired for the cleaning, but when one of the drivers could not reach a section of the roof from the MEWP he got out and stood on the roof not realising that the roof contained fragile skylights.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuting told the court the roof in question was metal with gutters running along it. The skylights were located in strips over the portion of roof but were covered in dirt discolouring them and making them appear similar colour to the roof itself.

After some time cleaning, the driver noticed a section of roof left uncleaned and while walking along a section of the roof he fell through one of these skylights. He landed on a concrete floor some 4.5 metres below.

HSE prosecuted the company for its failure to ensure that work at height was properly planned, appropriately supervised and carried out in a manner which was safe, so far as reasonably practicable.

The court heard neither driver had received training or information regarding the use of the MEWP, no edge protection was in place around the roof edges to prevent falls from height, no harness or netting was used (e.g. harnesses or netting) to minimise the distance or consequences of a fall, the fragile roof lights were not covered or edge protected to prevent falls from height.

The fall caused the man to spend a month in hospital sustaining significant injuries including a fracture to the base of his skull, multiple facial fractures, and whiplash. He also suffered damage to bones in both arms which needed pins and plates, as well as leg injuries.  He was, in fact, lucky to still be alive.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Megan Carr said:

“This easily preventable incident resulted in life changing injuries to this man.  I want this case to raise awareness within the industry and amongst companies in general, that proper planning and operation of work at height is imperative. This case highlights the very serious consequences that may arise from oversight.”

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.