Tag Archives: Prosecution

Clients receives huge fine after self employed contractor falls from MEWP

falls from heightYou are most probably aware of the duties you have as a client to select contractors which are competent and adequately resourced for safety.  Sometimes you will also need to convince others within your supply chain or business of the need to complete a thorough assessment and the case below may offer assistance.

In this case a major company had employed a self employed contractor to carry out work installing updated fire detection equipment at its Yate factory site. Due to a failure to plan and supervise the work correctly an overhead conveyor was started which ultimately led to a fall of over 5 metres for from the Mobile Elevating Work Platform (MEWP) which the contractor was using.

Maintenance workers employed by Whirlpool UK Appliances Ltd were unaware that starting the conveyor system would results in this tragedy as they had not been told that this work was taking place.  An HSE investigation found that there were no effective controls or supervision in place to prevent these conflicting work tasks from being undertaken at the same time.

The company pleaded guilty at Bristol Crown Court to breaching section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £700,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,466.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Matt Tyler said:

“This is a tragic case where the incident could have been prevented if the company had planned and controlled the work properly.”

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.

Jail sentence for both company directors and the main contractor following death

HSEHSE now has a policy of ‘looking beyond the garden gate’ in construction accidents.  in this particular case the directors of a roofing business, and also the director of the business which contracted this work out to them, have seen custodial sentences (see our earlier blog for another example of this type of prosecution).

HSE has made plain its intention to look further up the supply chain and drive home the message that contractors are responsible for decisions they make when subcontracting work.  The duty to ensure that the subcontractor is competent and adequately resourced for safety is becoming a recurring theme and is one which deserves further consideration for any construction based business.

The cases which will begin to filter through which occurred after the CDM 2015 changes will likely see this intensify with HSE able to look even further up the supply chain to target clients and designers more effectively in the coming years.

Read the story below to find out more details as report in Safety & Health Practitioner (link) and if you need support please click on Contact Us above

Three company bosses have been jailed following the death of 25-year-old father of one, Benjamin Edge, who fell from a roof he was working on, without safety equipment and in windy conditions.

Following the incident safety failings were covered up, a new risk assessment was written and an employee was “sent home to collect harnesses to make it look like the accident was Mr Edge’s fault, because he had not worn safety equipment” it was reported.

Credit: Greater Manchester Police

Credit: Greater Manchester Police

The fatal incident

On 10 December 2014, Mr Edge, fell from the roof of a metal structure he was helping to dismantle in Ramsbottom, Bury.

He died hours later at Salford Royal Hospital, after suffering catastrophic head injuries.

At the time of the fall, Mr Edge was working for SR and RJ Brown and was working on a site run by Marshalls Mono.

Investigation

A joint investigation by the Greater Manchester Police alongside the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) looked into the circumstances surrounding Mr Edge’s death.

It was heard in court how MA Excavations Ltd, contracted out the work to brothers Christopher and Robert ‘James’ Brown, directors at SR and RJ Brown Limited.

Mark Aspin, director at MA Excavations Ltd said he believed the Browns were ‘competent’ and could complete the job safely, but the court heard he did not check their qualifications.

Manchester Evening News reported that RobertJames’ Brown composed a ‘grossly inadequate’ risk assessment before the job which he did not show to anyone.

After Mr Edge was rushed to hospital he then typed up another risk assessment, which should have been done beforehand.

Peter Heap, 34, who had been working alongside Mr Edge was asked by Christopher Brown, 25, to go home and collect harnesses to make it look like the accident was Mr Edge’s fault, because he had not worn safety equipment.

“Foolishly, weakly and criminally – as he now realises – Peter Heap went along with what he was told to do,” Mr Justice Openshaw said.

The Browns maintained that the harnesses had been there before the incident, although they did admit falsifying the risk assessment.

Sentencing

During sentencing, addressing Christopher Brown and Robert ‘James’ Brown Ben’s mother said that when she saw her son’s coffin at the funeral she wanted to drag those responsible to the coffin so they could see what they had done.

She said: “Ben’s death was totally avoidable. He had everything to live for, but his future was stolen from him.”

Mrs Edge added: “Benjamin Edge, known affectionately as Ben, was my son and his father, Tim’s, son. We are so proud of Ben, not just what he achieved, but who he was.”

  • SR and RJ Brown Limited, of which brothers Christopher and Robert Brown are directors, was fined £300,000 at Manchester Crown Court after admitting corporate manslaughter.
  • Christopher Brown and Robert Brown pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice and two counts of health and safety breaches. They were jailed for 20 months. A count of manslaughter for the brothers is to lie on file.
  • Mark Aspin, 37, was sentenced to a year in jail after admitting health and safety offences.
  • MA Excavations Ltd, of Garden Street, Ramsbottom, which contracted out the work – was fined £75,000 after pleading guilty to two health and safety breaches.
  • Employee Peter Heap, 34, was spared jail after he followed orders to bring safety harnesses to the site after his colleague had fallen to try to conceal what had happened. His four-month sentence for perverting the course of justice, which he had admitted, was suspended for two years.

Ben’s family have issued a tribute to their son, who leaves behind a three year-old daughter, a loving mother and father, twin brother, and partner.

“Ben was taken from us in tragic circumstances aged only 25, and our family and all of his friends are totally grief stricken by his loss.

“We miss him so very, very much.

“He was a loving, caring son, twin brother and family man. Ben was a much loved partner and father and will always remain a huge part of everyone’s lives”.

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.

£2m fine for a fall and injury at breadmaker

Warburtons Limited, a large national breadmaker has been fined £2 million plus costs of £19,609.28 after a worker carrying out routine mixing machine cleaning  lost his footing and fell nearly 2 metres to the floor below.falls from height

He was hospitalised and suffered a compression fracture to his spine and was unable to return to his work for several months. He was unable to return to his original role and was dismissed in December 2015 after a long period of sick leave.

An HSE investigation found that the firm routinely asked its employees to access the top of the mixers when they undertook cleaning tasks, in order to do this the workers had to access and then brace themselves to prevent themselves from falling.

It was found that supervision was not adequate and no training had taken place on how cleaning risks at height could be controlled.

HSE Inspector Mahesh Mahey commented;

“This case highlights how important it is for companies to fully assess the risks from work activities at height and to take appropriate action to prevent injury in the workplace.

This should have been prevented, falls from height is one of the biggest killers in the workplace and even falls from fairly low levels can be extremely dangerous. Mr Sears life has been changed forever but his injuries could have been more severe.”

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.

Massive fine imposed at magistrates court £1m+

In a move which would have been unheard of just a year ago a magistrates court has handed a fine to DFS Trading Ltd of £1m plus costs of £15,099

On 2 July 2015 the worker was unloading wooden furniture frames at one of the firms upholstery sites when he was struck by an unsecured furniture arm which fell from an unstable load.  The impact knocked him unconscious and he suffered serious neck and head injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that DFS had failed to adequately manage the risks of heavy loads being moved between manufacturing sites.  The court also heard the company had failed to supervise the work taking place and that a number of near misses had also been reported from similar unsecured loads.

Fundamental and systemic failings

DFS pleaded guilty to breaching sections 3 of the Managing Health and Safety at Work Regulation and also section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and were fined £1,000,000 and ordered to pay costs of £15,099.

Speaking after the case HSE inspector Lyn Spooner said:

“DFS is a large national organisation. The fundamental and systemic failings identified in their health and safety management systems is far from what would be expected from a company of their size who has the ability to deliver higher standards of safety.

Unfortunately DFS were unable to do that on this occasion and a preventable accident was allowed to occur.”

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.

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.

Takeaway owner sentenced for Fire Safety Offences

The owner of a Gloucester takeaway (Best Takeaway, 136 Eastgate Street, Gloucester) has this week been prosecuted for serious breaches of fire safety legislation.best_takeaway_interior

Ilhami Ince, originally of London,  appeared at Cheltenham Magistrates Court on the 15th August 2016 for failing to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

This hearing followed an earlier failure to appear resulting in a warrant being issued for his arrest. Throughout the investigation the lack of co-operation from Mr Ince repeatedly frustrated the process of making the premises safe in the event of fire thereby failing to protect the persons who had been placed at risk.

In July 2014, a multi-agency inspection of the premises was carried out supported by Gloucester City Council and Gloucestershire Constabulary. Fire Safety Enforcement Officers found that unauthorised sleeping accommodation for staff had been provided on the first and second floors and that a fire alarm system had not been provided and the structural fire precautions were insufficient to allow safe escape in the event of fire.

The Fire Safety breaches identified in the premises were so serious that death or serious injury would be imminent in the event of fire. This resulted in the first and second floors being prohibited from use.

Further investigations found that the ‘prohibition notice’ was being breached and staff were sleeping on the first and second floors.

The defendant pleaded guilty to the following matters:

  1. Failure to comply with the prohibition notice on 3 occasions 24th September 2014, 8th October 2014, 7th July 2015.
  2. Ground floor door between the takeaway and escape route was not fire-resisting.
  3. Employees were not provided with fire safety training.
  4. Two bedroom doors on the first floor were not fire-resisting.
  5. Two bedroom doors on the second floor were not fire-resisting.
  6. One bedroom door was so small a person had to crawl through it to exit and enter.
  7. A kitchen was situated within the first floor escape route.
  8. Emergency lighting was not provided.
  9. No fire alarm and smoke detectors were provided.
  10. A Fire Risk Assessment had not been completed.
  11. No fire safety information provided to employees

Ince was sentenced to 4 months imprisonment suspended for 24 months and was also ordered to pay full costs of £11,228.04 plus victim surcharge.

Cllr Nigel Moor, cabinet member responsible for fire, said:

“Fire safety law is there to ensure that occupants of premises are safe.

“Although we would prefer to work alongside business owners to make sure they comply with law, sometimes prosecution is the only reasonable outcome. Our priority is to ensure that Gloucestershire a safe place to live, work and visit.

“This prosecution sends a strong message to the business community to ensure that fire regulations are taken seriously.”

Chief fire officer Stewart Edgar said: “The targeted inspections highlighted some serious fire safety concerns in a number of premises that provided staff accommodation, so immediate action has been taken.

“The fire service is now working with these businesses to make sure their fire safety is brought up to standard. A fire in a commercial premises would have a devastating impact on both the employer and employee and the outcome could be a large fine or imprisonment in serious cases.”

Contact us on 01453 800100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use contact us above of 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.

Solar panel installer falls through fragile asbestos roof, company fined more than £20,000

solar_farm_imageNorwich-based Durrant Electrical and Mechanical Ltd, trading as Green Home Energy Solutions, had admitted a single charge of breaching working at height regulations on September 26, 2013.

The accident occurred when employee Chris Eldon was measuring up an asbestos roof on a tractor shed at Woodland Farm, near Watton.  He was completing this work without the use of crawling boards.

Klentiana Mahmutaj, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said Mr Eldon suffered severe concussion, a fractured wrist and bruising to the base of his spine when it gave way and he fell 2m to the ground.

An HSE investigation had found the company had carried out an inadequate risk assessment and planning for working on an inadequate roof.  The HSE Inspector added no-one from Durrant Electrical and Mechanical had been on site to brief Mr Eldon before he and apprentice Kyll Staff had started work.

“What should have happened was for the roof to be assessed by a competent person, who would have concluded it was fragile,” she said, adding falling from a roof could often lead to death or serious injuries.

Julia Kendrick, defending the firm, said Mr Eldon had worked for the company since 2011 and had been been given training in health and safety and working at heights. She added: “He was very experienced and he had significant training to make him aware of the risks which were inherent in the kind of work he was undertaking.

“The injured person had completed more than 100 installations. He was a supervisor on some jobs and they considered him extremely competent. Systems were in place but were not sufficiently adhered to or implemented.”

Durrant Electrical and Mechanical had had to lay off workers after a downturn in the renewables sector, the court was told. After making a £95,000 profit in 2015, it had so far lost £25,000 this year.

“They are struggling to pay their workers and stay afloat,” said Miss Kendrick, adding the company had no previous accidents or convictions.

Under the new sentencing guidelines firms can be fined between £14,000 and £250,000 for breaches. Judge Sell ordered it to pay £14,000, with £7,000 costs, commenting: “I’ve certainly not seen any evidence of serious or systemic failings to assess risks to health and safety.”

Durrent Electrical and Mechanical was given two years to pay.

After the hearing directors Kerry and Debbie Durrant, who were present in court, declined to comment.

Contact us on 01453 800100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use contact us above of 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.

How did that accident happen? Motion induced blindness….

So, here you are.  Steadily driving your way home along a motorway, motion induced blindnessmile after mile and junction after junction, perhaps in kind of semi aware state casually glancing at the sat nav, speedo or rear view mirror.  Every now and then you find yourself simply gazing at the view ahead and seconds turn into minutes and then half an hour passes without you realising it.

Sound familiar?

It should do because almost everyone that I’ve spoken to has experienced it, particularly on long and familiar journeys with a steady pace and light traffic, the M5 heading past Bristol and into the Southwest is a good example on a weekday afternoon, clear of bank holiday traffic.

The truth is this drifting state is dangerous and its not just when you’re on a motorway.

Blindness in the workplace

We often wonder when we come to look at an accident just how it happened.  We are given the gift of 20/20 hindsight of course and its always hard to put yourself in that persons position to the extent that you can truly appreciate the thought processes they went through.  You are there to try and identify the root causes – that’s why its worth knowing about motion induced blindness as a principle and also raising it with your staff as an issue before these accidents have a chance to occur.

Visual and optical phenomena

So, how do we get this message out there to vehicle fleet drivers, fork lift truck operators, motorcyclists and a whole other raft of people who might benefit?  As usual, by training and education – and a very neat graphic courtesy of the internet.

Stare at the central yellow dot and keep looking, do the other three dots then start to disappear?  That’s motion induced blindness.

Now imagine yourself at a busy crossroads waiting to pull out with pedestrians and other waiting to cross – can you spot that motorbike approaching?

Or perhaps you’re a a forklift truck driver in a busy warehouse passing by aisles and with pallet movers and pedestrian pickers all around you.

What next?

Use the video above in your training sessions when you have fork lift truck refreshers or new driver training, hold a toolbox talks for those who drive as part of their job (road users or otherwise) or ask us to complete a toolbox talk on your behalf to raise awareness.

How to combat motion induced blindness

You may still be wondering, why the jet fighter image at the top of the page? Fighter pilots are taught a technique to overcome this weakness in the way we process our view of the world around us and its very simple but very effective – you keep you head moving.  Don’t believe me?  Keep moving your head whilst re-watching the video above and you’ll see the difference – make sure that’s a key part of your training session.

As always, we hope you’ve found the information above interesting and feel you can use it to make a positive change in how you actively manage risk in your workplace.

About: Roger Hart  is Managing Director of Outsource Safety Ltd, a consultancy specialising in ISO9001, ISO14001 and OHSAS18001 Management Systems.  The company employs 10 staff and works for hundreds of retained clients across the UK in all sectors from Defence and Aerospace to Education and Museums with a specialism in the contracting, construction and renewables sectors, www.outsource-safety.co.uk

Contact us on 01453 800100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use contact us above of 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.

Occupational Health: Styrene Vapour Prosecution, Templetown Canopies Ltd

We’ve carried out many monitoring programmes which have involved exposure to styrene over the past 20 or so years.  The substance is in common use and because of this businesses and their staff can sometimes become too familiar with the substance and fail to take adequate precautions.

We also have heard staff assuring us that they don’t need to use protective equipment as they have developed a tolerance or even an immunity to styrene’s effects – wouldn’t it be good if that could ever be the case…

In the case below styrene exposure simply wasn’t guarded against and although HSE Inspectors know that small businesses have pressures on them they quite rightly won’t allow this as an excuse to endanger the health of their employees.

If you need occupation health advice, air monitoring for styrene or any other safety support please speak to your retained advisor or contact us on 01453 800100 to get some sound advice.

Styrene vapour not controlled by extraction and RPE

Templetown Canopies Limited from Tyneside has been prosecuted over the lack of controls regarding the use of the hazardous substance styrene during the production of fibre glass door and window canopies.

Styrene exposure causes irritation to the nose, throat and lungs and neurological effect including difficulty in concentrating, drowsiness, headaches and nausea.

HSE inspected the company premises in May 2013 issued an Improvement Notice. However, the company did not take action to comply with the Notice until they moved premises in March 2015 failing to adequately control exposure of their employees to styrene.

An extraction system should also have been in place to remove the heavier than air vapours and RPE provided with the correct filters (FFP3) to protect operators.

Employees exposed to styrene vapour for almost 2 years

Templetown Canopies Limited, of Shaftsbury Avenue, South Shields, Tyne and Wear, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 7(1) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) and was fined £8,500 and ordered to pay costs of £4,500.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Fiona McGarry said:

“Workers’ health was put at risk from exposure to styrene for a period of 22 months, even after the company had been made aware of the actions it needed to take.

Whilst HSE is sympathetic to the pressures faced by small businesses, this is simply not acceptable. Employers need to take action to ensure they are providing adequate control to protect the health of their employees.”

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.