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

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 our contact us page.

Posted by Roger Hart

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.

Posted by Roger Hart

How did that accident happen? Motion induced blindness

So, here you are.  Steadily driving your way home along a motorway, mile 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.

Motion induced blindnessmotion induced blindness

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.

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 and safety

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,

Contact us on 01453 800 100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use our contact us page.

Posted by Roger Hart

Is there a case for intuition in safety?

Sintuition safetyometimes you just feel that something isn’t right, you can’t explain exactly why but you have that feeling, your subconscious is telling you to look a little more closely or probe a bit deeper.  We think there is a case for Is there a case for intuition in safety.

I read an interesting article recently by Dr Travis Bradberry which discusses the subconsciousnesses role in guiding our actions and asks us to use these feelings more to guide us in our decision making, it contains in interesting quote;

“Intuition will tell the thinking mind where to look next.” – Jonas Salk

In a study by the Salk Institute participants were asked to play a card game by pulling cards from two different decks, unknown to them the decks were rigged.  Its took around 50 cards for these participants to realise something was unequal and about 80 cards to realise what the actual difference was.

However, after just 10 cards most players starting to sweat slightly on their palms before pulling a card from the ‘losing’ deck, at about the same time they started subconsciously favouring the ‘winning’ deck.

The above study serves to demonstrate the power of intuition, something which comes from the primitive brain and which served us well in days where danger was all around us, and something which we should, perhaps, be happier to rely on more often in our modern lives.

Is there a case for intuition in safety?

If you remain unconvinced why not try a little game, stare intently at the back of someone’s head in the office or walking down a corridor. Perhaps you’re sat across a table or hall from someone you know at lunch.  The wait and see how long it takes them to raise their head and search for the person looking at them, it might not work every time but I think you’ll be surprised at how often it does (and if you do know them don’t forget to at least nod a hello!).

So next time you’re completing a safety tour, audit or inspection don’t be afraid to slow down and listen to your gut feeling, it might lead you in the right direction.

About: Roger Hart  is Managing Director of Outsource Safety Ltd, a consultancy specialising in ISO9001, ISO14001 and ISO45001 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, Additve Manufacture and Museums with a specialism in the contracting, construction and renewables sectors,

Contact us on 01453 800 100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use our contact us page.

Posted by Roger Hart

Hand arm vibration – are you doing enough?

vibration white fingerHaving read of a recent case where a company was fined £200,000 plus £27,724 costs for a HAVS incident has made us revisit the vibration issue here in the office.

Each of us already know that the emphasis from HSE and our insurers is now firmly on health as well as safety.  We reported nearly two years ago that occupational deafness has become the new whiplash with claims rocketing and payouts of well over £10,000.

Vibration monitoring and assessment

We liken HAVS to COSHH and DSEAR as one of those areas which many of us know that we should tackle head on but we often find a number of other more pressing things we need to do instead – if this is you read on or make contact with your retained consultant to have a 5 minutes chat and find out more.

The truth is that many of us have made a good attempt as assessing our vibration risks and in many cases have felt that it wasn’t quite s bad as we had feared once we had got started.  However, as its something most of us don’t tackle every day that familiarity soon wears off and we find ourselves back as square one making he same old excuses.  Its also worth remembering that this dates back to the 1990’s and so we have very little in the way of excuses when it comes to defending cases or demonstrating our own safety management qualities to the Board.

Although the risks are certainly real the damage takes a long time to manifest, what we have to remind ourselves of is that this, like occupational deafness, isn’t going to reverse itself and the consequences for the person can be life changing.

You have in essence two choices; complete your own assessments or call in ourselves as external experts to complete this for you.  We can often work from manufacturers data and so costs are competitive and even if you do have specific processes which require vibration to work we can always monitor these individually and arrive at not just an answer in terms of exposure but also good advice on how you can control and reduce exposure.

So, don’t stick your head in the sand and hope this will go away or kid yourself that you’ll get around to it soon – if you need help contact us and if you’re too busy to be able to complete internally just ask your consultant, we’ll be glad to help out.

Posted by Roger Hart

Scaffold inspection – a need to know more…

Both industrial and construction sites we visit and support often have scaffolding in place and regardless of if you are a client or an experienced contractor, its nice to have sufficient knowledge to complete a quick assessment or to just be able to spot when something is amiss.

For example, you’re a safety manager in an engineering business but work is being done to the roof, or you’re having an extension completed.  Or perhaps you’re a site manger in construction but you’d benefit from knowing a bit more.

Scaffold inspection – a need to know more…scaffold

With this in mind the National Access and Scaffolding Confederation (NASC) – the leading trade association for the industry within the UK has just completed a 20 page guide which you’re likely to find very useful.

This 20-page document (free to download from the NASC Website or to be distributed by email to those who need it) is intended for use by anybody with responsibility for the management, use, monitoring and provision of scaffolding.

Sections of the document describe:

  • current scaffolding regulations
  • what to expect from operatives according to the level of proficiency they have attained, i.e. whether they have CISRS Part 1 or Part 2 or Advanced Scaffolder
  • scaffold design requirements and how to tell they’ve been met
  • the minimum personal protective equipment to be worn/used
  • handover certificates
  • scaffold inspection requirements.
Posted by Roger Hart

Supervision: How much is enough?

fork lift truckOne of the key things people learn on their first safety courses are key phrases used in health and safety.  We, like all professions, are awash with different phrases and acronyms and one of those is ITIS (as in healthandsafetyitis – a condition which can affect us all as some point on another).

However, the phrases behind this is important; Information, Training, Instruction, Supervision.  We are told in the classroom that no matter what, we never loose that responsibility to keep pushing the safety and health messages out to our staff.  But, the law often sees things in a different and generally quite stark light where things are either OK or not, adequate or simply inadequate.

The case below can therefore be helpful to shed a little more of this light on what a judge might think is appropriate, our only caveat is that this is one case and represents a specific set of circumstances.

A case has recently been heard by the Court of Appeal involving Dean Quantrell and TWA Logistics Ltd.  Quantrell was operating a gas powered lift truck to unload vehicles but somehow managed to end up underneath the truck and sustained leg injuries, exactly how this happened is unclear.

Quantrell asserted that he was travelling at low speed when his left foot slipped from the pedal causing him to overbalance and fall.  However, the judge at the first hearing in Liverpool was seemingly unconvinced by Quantrells version of events and noted that he had been inconsistent in his story during questioning. In addition, a reconstruction showed the events described to be all but impossible when moving at slow speeds.

The judge concluded that it was more likely that the accident occurred due to a sharp turn at high speed which caused it to tip and the case was dismissed.

The case was taken to the Court of Appeal where Quantrell argued that the accident had happened at low speed and confirmed story he had recounted was broadly correct. He alleged that there were several areas in which TWA Logistics had failed including inadequate training as it had not included specific instruction in driving gas-powered FLTs or familiarisation training at the workplace as required by the Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) for lift trucks. He also felt that insufficient weight had been placed on the lack of enforcement over wearing a seat belt.

The court of appeal disagreed with both arguments and then dismissed Quantrells claim. It found that although the training was not fully compliant with HSE ACoP it had covered the “basic” element just not the required “specific” and “familiarisation” parts. HThe Court felt that there was no link between the accident and any inadequacy of training. The question of seat belt usage was also found to have been given sufficient consideration by the business and although enforcement was not rigorous, it had been reasonable.  Evidence being the business supplying buzzers to alert drivers when the seat belt was not used and notices being displayed to remind drivers to use seat belts.

So an interesting conclusion and one which will serve to give some assurance to safety managers and directors alike.  Our advice?  Make sure you keep records of any reminders, toolbox talks or disciplinary action take relating to safety, it great evidence when you need it.

Posted by Roger Hart

CDM Client prosecuted for failing to appoint a Principal Contractor

A CDM Client which failed to appoint a Principal Contractor under the CDM Regulations 2015 has been prosecuted and fined £50,000cdm-2015

Any Client who has building work completed which falls under CDM must appoint a Principal Designer and Principal Contractor in writing – this is one of the key requirements placed on any client under the regulations.

The CDM Client (Ziman Trading Ltd) was developing the New York Hotel in Porth when an investigation found that the company had failed to put in place appropriate measures to control risks from risk on site including fire, asbestos and falls from height.  To compound matters, Ziman Trading also failed to co-operate with the investigation and to comply with the enforcement action taken by HSE.

Ziman Trading Limited, of Cefn Coed Road, Cyncoed, Cardiff, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and Section 33(1)(G) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,478.

CDM Client prosecuted for failing to appoint a Principal Contractor;

  • Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015  – Regulation 13(1) which requires a principal contractor to plan, manage and monitor the construction phase and coordinate matters relating to health and safety during the construction phase to ensure the construction work is carried out without risks to health or safety.
  • Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 – Section 33(1)(G) which is an offence to contravene any requirement or prohibition imposed by an improvement notice or a prohibition notice.

If you’re a client with CDM responsibilities please contact us on 01453 800100 or use the links above and below to find out more about how we can support you.  We’ve been involved with CDM Client support since the very start of the CDM Regulations back in 1995 and have several key staff who are very experienced CDM Consultants.

Find out more about the CDM Regulations here; HSE CDM 2015 Regulations; frequently asked questions  If you have specific questions please contact us or call us on 01453 80010 to discuss them.

For details of our experience with CDM see this link; Meet the Team

To watch our video on the CDM Regulations 2015 please click this link; CDM Regulations 2015 An Explanation

Posted by Roger Hart

CSCS Cards; applications, advice and guidance

We have yet to meet a client who doesn’t let out an involuntary sigh CSCS Cardswhen we mention the above.  To be truthful we do have a slight sinking feeling ourselves and often look around the office for the best person to pass the enquiry to!

There is a lot of advice on how to proceed but an awful lot of information is now outdated or wasn’t the best route  in the first place.

First the bad news, the process hasn’t suddenly simplified.  The better news, the process has been better defined and there are some short cuts you can make towards getting the right answer.

Step 1 – Get a test

You need to be able to prove competence and that means sitting through and passing the Health, Safety & Environment Test and it must must be passed within the past 2 years.

However, don’t assume this is your only step – not any more. You’ll also need to show evidence of a relevant professional qualification or membership.  In fact, even a labourer needs a one day Site Safety Plus or an IOSH Working Safely course under their belt.

Step 2 – Use the Card Route Finder

We’d suggest visiting and heading to the “Use our card finder” button, then click “Search by occupation” .

You’ll need to enter what you do, or you could  just view the full list of occupations using the links at the bottom of the web page.  once you’ve done that you’ll see a list of card colours and test types and also some guidance on the evidence which you’ll need in terms of qualifications.

But, be careful

Please be aware that a search on the web may lead you to a number of websites which look to profit off the back of this process. Make sure you visit or you could end up paying more than you need to; a test should cost £19.50 and a card should cost £30.00 if you’re paying more than that you’re most likely on the wrong site.

One final tip is to download the test app from CITB, it only costs £5.99 and includes the answers to mock tests which can be very helpful on those odd questions which seem to have multiple answers.  Check here for more details;

Posted by Roger Hart