HSE Provides risk assessment training

Well then – who better to tell you about how provide a risk assessment training than an actual HSE Inspector!HSE

Or is it….

HSE have recently started to offer more in the way of courses and have some which cover risk assessment, others covering CDM and more are likely to arrive in the future.  The truth behind this is a drive to monetise the skills present within HSE and help fund the large reduction in the support which HSE receives from central government coffers.

I think we can all see the rationale behind this and perhaps there is merit in trying to make our tax pounds work a little harder…. but… would anyone but a very large business be willing to pay £495.00 for just one days risk assessment training?  Aren’t we already paying for this service through both tax and through the FFI Scheme? What can’t the same information and resources be made available to the smaller businesses who can’t (or won’t) pay £495.00 for just one days training?

I’ve paid in the past to attend courses at the Health and Safety Laboratory and found them useful but even we’d bulk at the costs HSE want to extract from those which they enforce.  Speaking of which, isn’t there some basic conflict of interest going on here?  Could future cases be complicated by the waving of a certificate which deems some competence on an attendee?  What about those who could not afford to attend?

In essence I’m in the ‘thanks but no thanks’ camp. Provide a level and fair playing field for all those governed by the same regulations and keep enforcement and commercial practice separate now and in the future.

If you’d still like to know more about this training course you can do that here; HSE risk assessment training course

Posted by Roger Hart

Scaffolder faces up to 6 months in jail for failing to use harness – on a CPS Building!

Scaffolder Terrance Murray faces up to 6 months in jail after being photographed by a retired HSE Inspector working 60 feet up on a scaffold in Manchester.  Even more surprising is that the building he was working on housed the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) who are now involved in prosecuting the case against him!

Scaffolder faces jail after working dangerously on CPS Building

A photograph can be seen which shows the scaffolder looking directly into the Crown prosecution Services offices within the building, his apprentice was working further down the same scaffolding but is not being prosecuted.

Murray, who is an experienced scaffolder can be seen standing on planks without having first erected a rail  to stop his fall, as required by SG4:15 In the photograph he is wearing a harness but has not connected it to the scaffold leaving him unprotected from a fall.

Attending court yesterday, Murray, pleaded guilty to failing to take reasonable care for either himself or others who may have been affected by his acts and omissions while at work.

District Judge Mark Hadfield adjourned the case when Murray, who was not without legal representation, admitted he hadn’t realised he could be sent to prison for the offence.  The case was adjourned until February 20 to allow Murray to consider getting a lawyer.

After the hearing, HM inspector of health and safety Matt Greenly commented:

‘The potential for his actions was the death of a young man. This is a situation which could easily have been avoided. He had all the right equipment. He chose for some unknown reason to take his life in his own hands that day.’

 

 

 

 

Posted by Roger Hart

CDM Principal Designer avoid HSE enforcement under CDM 2015

You might well find the following report of interest if you’re in construction, particularly if you’re CDM Principal Designer.  For those of you living in the South-west you might be interested to know that Bristol came second in the list for most enforcement notices issued under CDM 2015 (just behind Hammersmith in London)!

We’ve just had a full year of CDM 2015 and the conversations regarding client and designers and their specific role in the new regulations are ongoing.  Coupled to this HSE now have a specialist team visiting designers (architects and similar) to ensure that the message of CDM 2015 and its specific requirements related to the assessment of risk at the design stage are fully implemented by the CDM Principal Designer.

CDM Principal Designer: Take a look at the report below

MPW R&R Ltd CDM Principal Designer avoid enforcement

If you’d like a quick summary please read on below;

  • total number of enforcement notices issued to the construction sector related to CDM 2015: 3155
  • of this number the total of prohibition notices issue: 1793
  • of this number the total of improvement notices issued: 1362
  • number of regulatory breaches these notices listed: 7993
  • Most breached regulation: HASWA: 3391
  • Second most breached regulation: Work at Height: 1790
  • Third most breached regulation: CDM 2015: 1669

Interestingly, there were 99 potential breaches of Client duties under CDM but only 5 potential breaches of duty by Principal Designers and just 2 potential breaches by Designers.

An accurate depiction of the real state of the CDM 2015 Regulations?  We’ll leave you to decide…

Posted by Roger Hart

The clients duties under CDM 2015 – are you complying?

We’ve now had the first full calendar year of the updated CDM Regulations in place with some very big changes in terms of Clients duties.  Some things have changed and designers, architects in the main, have begun to feel the pinch of the regulations.  Contractors seem happy to proceed largely on the same basis as they were and are, by and large, relatively unaffected by the changes if they were used to CDM under the earlier regulations.

One area which has felt the pinch is the smaller contractor and the contractors and designers completing domestic projects such as new house builds for wealthy clients.  There are some surprisingly large practices and contractors serving wealthy clients in the Cotswolds, Home Counties and similar spots who spend a significant sum on their new build homes / renovations.  Up until the 2015 changes in CDM all of these projects fell outside of the scope of CDM and so there has been a steep learning curve for this part of the construction sector.

A second change which has hit all clients and is part of the CDM risk management process is the greater focus on health.  Issues such as vibration and respirable crystalline silica have been known of for many years but contractors at all levels are really feeling the focus both from the supply chain and from HSE in terms of enforcement on these health related issues.

The missing link so far from our perspective are clients.  We have seen some prosecutions but clients are hard for HSE to reach and often quite unaware of their duties under CDM 2015. The key distinction here is between commercial and domestic clients but we’re going to assume (being a business and talking in this blog to our clients) that you’re a commercial client.

That being said, did you know? [source: http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/cdm/2015/commercial-clients.htm]

For all projects, commercial CDM clients duties are to:

  • make suitable arrangements for managing their project, enabling those carrying it out to manage health and safety risks in a proportionate way. These arrangements include:
    • appointing the contractors and designers to the project (including the principal designer and principal contractor on projects involving more than one contractor) while making sure they have the skills, knowledge, experience and organisational capability
    • allowing sufficient time and resources for each stage of the project
    • making sure that any principal designer and principal contractor appointed carry out their duties in managing the project
    • making sure suitable welfare facilities are provided for the duration of the construction work
  • maintain and review the management arrangements for the duration of the project
  • provide pre-construction information to every designer and contractor either bidding for the work or already appointed to the project
  • ensure that the principal contractor or contractor (for single contractor projects) prepares a construction phase plan before that phase begins
  • ensure that the principal designer prepares a health and safety file for the project and that it is revised as necessary and made available to anyone who needs it for subsequent work at the site

For notifiable projects (where planned construction work will last longer than 30 working days and involves more than 20 workers at any one time; or where the work exceeds 500 individual worker days), commercial clients must:

Posted by Roger Hart

Utter failure to manage safety results in tragic death

Almost all the people we know and work with struggle with knowing the right mix of safety aspects and operational aspects when planning work.  We do have to get the job done, but let’s do it safely is a common phrase through industry and construction.  However, every now and then we come across a case where safety hasn’t been given any thought.  When the risks are so severe and obvious the facts make for uncomfortable reading and, in this case, the utter failure to manage safety has resulted in an entirely preventable death of a young father of one.

Utter failure to manage safety: Golf company director jailed following lake death

Gareth Pugh was collecting golf balls from a lake at Peterstone Gold Course near Newport on behalf of Dale Pike, director of Boss Golf Balls.  The works were to retrieve golf balls from a lake at the course, some thing which is typically conducted by qualified divers.

During the course of the work Mr Pugh, weighed down by the 341 golf balls (16kg) he had so far collected and the weighted belt which he wore, lost his breathing equipment and drowned.

Mr Pike was alerted by the constant stream of bubbles emerging from the water and altered the emergency services with Mr Pughs body being recovered from the water some 70 minutes later.

The court heard Pike, who ran Boss Golf Balls which sells balls retrieved from lakes, should have hired trained divers to carry out the work, at a cost of about £1,000 a day. But instead he employed Mr Pugh, who had ADHD and learning difficulties, and paid him £20-40 a day.

David Elias QC, defending, said Pike “naively and foolishly believed that all would be well with the use of that equipment in that lake”.

Sentencing Pike, Judge Keith Thomas said: “Mr Pugh was an unsuitable contender for the diving work you employed him to undertake, but you allowed him to take those risks to make a quick buck.

The risk of death or serious injury was obvious to you, but your cavalier attitude towards safety was the cause of Mr Pugh’s death.

Iwan Jenkins, from the CPS, said: “Dale Pike stood by and watched as Gareth entered the water knowing that safety regulations were being breached and which resulted in Gareth losing his life.

“There was clear evidence Pike had made enquiries with legitimate dive operators to cost this activity but he chose not to use them, instead falsely claiming to the golf club that he was a qualified commercial diver with his own equipment.

Posted by Roger Hart

Client fails to appoint a Principal Contractor and receives £200,000 fine

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations and its requirement for a Client to appoint Principal Contractor are long established having been first issued in 1994 but more recent changes in the 2015 update are catching out some clients.  We think that as time progresses HSE will be looking to enforce more regularly on client duties in project both large and small.

The case below will highlight the potential for clients to become liable when they don’t take steps to ensure their own compliance under CDM.  If you have questions or need CDM 2015 support please contact us and speak to one of our CDM experts on 01453 800100.

Failure by client to appoint attracts Principal Contractor duties by default

The owner of the block of flats has been prosecuted and fined £200,000 after HSE identified serious safety breaches during demolition of the building in South London.

As is often typical a member of the public was the first to raise the alarm and it was found that the building owner and client had failed to make any appointments under CDM 2015.  Without this is place the duties associated with the Principal Designer and Principal Contractor roles would fall to the client – something which is known to us but was most likely an unpleasant surprise for Mr Selliah Sivguru Sivaneswaran.

In October 2016 HSE Inspectors stopped work at site due to workers being exposed to a range of risks including asbestos, falls from height, and fire. When HSE revisited the site for a second time in January 2017 work had restarted whilst the site was still unsafe – despite enforcement notices being served and advice being provided.

The demolition work continued to be carried out by hand with workers climbing onto the unguarded roof and ‘bombing’ debris to the ground. Workers were at risk of falling up to 4m through unguarded openings in the floors and the partly demolished staircase.

Welfare facilities were not provided and there was a significant risk of fire without adequate means of escape. The Court heard that two days before the sentencing hearing HSE had to return to the site and take further action.

The Court heard that despite the foreseeably large financial return from the project, Mr Sivaneswaran put profit before safety and paid cash in hand to untrained workers, failed to engage a site manager, and provided none of the legally-required site documentation.

Mr. Sivaneswaran pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) and 4(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM) and was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £1,421.20 in costs.

HSE inspector Andrew Verrall-Withers commented after the hearing:

“Mr. Sivaneswaran was a commercial client as he was carrying out work as part of a business. When he failed to appoint a Principal Contractor (PC) the the PC duties fell to him.

Thanks to a member of the public reporting the dangerous conditions HSE was able to take action. It was just good fortune that no one had been killed at the site.

Instead of taking the support and advice provided by HSE, Mr. Sivaneswaran continued to let the workers operate in appalling conditions where they were at risk of being killed. He did not even provide a WC or washing facilities”.

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Posted by Roger Hart

Bristol Construction firm receives £145,000 fine without an incident occurring

This recent case involving a Bristol construction firm highlights two common misconceptions;

  1. You have to have an accident to get prosecuted and fined by the HSE;
  2. Most inspections come through random HSE visits.

This case disproves both of these assumptions.  Firstly, the case was prosecuted based on the risk of the breach rather than based on any accident or incident which occurred.  Secondly, the visit was prompted by the concerns of a member of the public communicated to HSE through their website which can be accessed here; HSE: raise a concern

Bristol construction firm Ikon Construction fined

Ikon construction had received previous warnings relating to the correct planning and management of construction work but these had not been acted upon.  The fine related to risk without injury during the construction of nine timber framed town houses and resulted in a significant fine of £145,000 plus £2191.20 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Kate Leftly said:

“By failing to comply with the law, Ikon Construction endangered the lives of workers at the site, and neighbouring residents of the complex being developed.

Thankfully, a complaint was made by the public which we acted on very quickly and subsequently thoroughly investigated.”

If you need help, advice and support on any aspect of construction site safety or application of the CDM Regulations as a Designer, Contractor or Principal Contractor please contact us using the links above and below to see how we can help.

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Posted by Roger Hart

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 (formwork safety)

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.”

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Posted by Roger Hart

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 and Hand Arm Vibration (HAVS) is all too common an example.  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, see our video below for more information..

One area we think you should look at afresh is controlling your 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 Hand Arm 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.”

Posted by Roger Hart

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

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

In the past few months alone there have been a number of high value, high profile fines, including:

Health and Safety Fines rise for individualsHSE

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

Posted by Roger Hart