Tag Archives: Safety

Use of Plant on Construction Sites – New HSE guidance on Overturning

There have been more instances of tele-handlers and dumpers overturning on construction sites with often tragic consequences. These days we have trained operators and good site traffic management on most sites we see but in spite of this we are still seeing too many overturns.

This gave use cause to think and discuss this in the office and we have the following thoughts for you to consider which will be helpful when seeking to manage these risks;

  1. Are roll bars always in the upright position – staff sometimes do not put them into place following delivery;
  2. Seat belts are still not being worn and warning systems are being defeated as operators are still under the impression that they could somehow ‘jump free’ of the vehicle if it should overturn  this just isn’t the case;
  3. Training often does not teach good practice for using this machinery (in particular dumpers) on slopes, this is essential and should make up a toolbox talk and really should be part of any operators training – check your training satisfies this area;
  4. Some zones may not be suitable for dumpers and telehandlers – mark exclusions zones for soft ground and steeper slopes;
  5. Tyre pressures are crucial – make sure staff check pressures daily as a small change in pressure (as little as 5 psi) can have an enormous effect on load capacity.  Tyres must be check when cold at the start of each day.

Find out more about the safety of telehandlers here by reading the latest research report from HSE.  General information about plant safety can be found on the HSE website here.

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;

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Risk Assessments: A joint venture

As an employer you have the duty to assess the risks to Health, Safety and Welfare of all persons in your employment and also to those not actually in your employment but entering your premises – members of the public or visitors to your site.

You have diligently carried out your work place risk assessments, but is this enough?   Have you considered who has been involved in the process of creating the risk assessments and how have these been communicated?

Staff engagement

This is where involvement from your employees and contractors is not only important, it can be critical as a recent case involving a major manufacturer shows (see our blog for more details).

As the person responsible for risk assessment you should consider that fact that your employees may be the ones best placed to identify the key hazards and risks from machinery and equipment, after all, they are the ones operating these machines on a daily basis.

As part of this they know the capability of equipment, the process of handling any raw materials, as well the short cuts which operators might be tempted to take to get the job done faster.  Their involvement gives added value and an insight which would otherwise be missing.

Contractor safety

Contractors attending your premises should provide their own risk assessments before they carry out non-standard and higher risk tasks such as electrical or mechanical maintenance, work at height or confined space operations.  This is typically submitted for review as method statements and risk assessments RAMS.

Don’t forget that you must then also play your role, particularly when the work site is not a segregated area but within your normal operating areas.  You should be checking these documents before they arrive and also making sure that they comply with what they have written down when on site.  You may also need to issue permits to work to ensure that the task can be carried out safely.

Plan Do Check Act

Ensuring you get “buy in“ to your risk assessment process, shows that as far as reasonably practicable, you are working towards best practice.  Your aim, whether for work by your in house team or external contractors, is to monitor and review activities to ensure effective requirements and standards continue to be met

Through keeping health and safety high on the agenda, your staff, shareholders and customers will all see a business which is safe, controlled and thoroughly professional – a benefit for all.

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;

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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;

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HSE settles judicial review brought by OCS Group before High Court Hearing

HSEAt our recent round of breakfast clubs we discussed the Judicial Review being brought by OCS Group after the FFI fine imposed upon it by HSE linked to its operations at Heathrow Airport.

Key to the review was the HSE being able to act as a ‘judge in its own cause’ – something which was, unsurprisingly, at odds with others areas of review and something of a legal issue.

To complicate matters further, HSE is now headed by Mr Martin Temple, the same person who undertook an independent review of FFI when at the EEF and within that review called FFI a ‘dangerous model’.

Given the above and the arbitrary process of appeal it won’t come as too much of a surprise to see that HSE has chosen to settle the case early and also to withdraw the FFI imposed on OCS plus pay its costs.

Changes will be in place by 1st September 2017

Changes are now afoot to make the process of appeals completely independent of HSE by 1st September 2017.  More than this a consultation exercise should ensure that all stakeholders will now have the opportunity to voice their opinions on how that new process might operate.

Watch this space for more news.

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;

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Butler at historic home dies in lift accident due to lack of inspections

All lifts which carry goods or people should be checked on a regular basis, 12 monthly for those lifts carrying goods and 6 monthly for those which carry people.  These tests are required by law and must be completed – they’re known as statutory tests.

Burghley House Preservation Trust Limited in Stamford employed Arthur Mellar as a butler and he was crushed to death by a lift  in July 2014 when it became stuck after one of the bags became jammed.

The lift had not been fitted with a slack rope detector and this was identified by the competent person after its examination. Had the lift been examined by a competent person earlier the engineer should have identified that this needed to be fitted.

The Trust pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and were today fined £266,000 and ordered to pay costs of £16,863.

Speaking after the sentencing, HSE inspector Alison Ashworth said:

“Arthur Mellar was killed when a luggage lift descended on him while he was trying to free an item of luggage. This was a completely avoidable incident, and Burghley House admitted its role in it, but of course that will be little comfort for Mr Mellar’s family.

I would urge any business using lifts, particularly older lifts such as the one in this case, watching this case to ensure correct measures are taken in relation to maintenance of lifts and that competent lift engineers are employed when necessary to identify defects.”

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;

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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;

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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;

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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;

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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;

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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;

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