Making Sense of Health and Safety

Health and Safety News

We scour the Internet for Health and Safety related news items on an almost daily basis.

The news articles and clippings, curated by MD Safety, highlight the requirements for compliance with UK Health and Safety Legislation and best practice across all industry sectors.

The majority of the information and cases will apply to a greater or lesser degree to our broad range of Clients and lessons to be learned will be able to be gained.

Roofer sentenced after dangerous carbon monoxide release

A self-employed roofer has been sentenced after leaving a gas appliance flue in an immediately dangerous condition when he removed a chimney stack from a property in March 2019. Truro Crown Court heard how Mark Reski, trading as MR Roofing & Leadwork, was contracted to remove and rebuild a chimney stack from the roof of a client’s property in Fowey. 

The chimney stack was shared between the client’s and a neighbouring property, occupied by a vulnerable elderly woman. In removing the chimney stack, Mr Reski exposed the flue liner for the gas range within the elderly woman’s property. He left the flue liner unsupported, dangling at an angle and exposed to the elements. A flue liner left in this condition would not function correctly, with a high risk of combustion products, including carbon monoxide, entering the property.

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Places for People Homes fined after five employees developed Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)

A property management and development organisation has been fined after five employees developed Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS).  Aylesbury Crown Court heard that between 2009 and 2014 five employees of Places for People Homes Limited used vibrating powered tools to carry out grounds maintenance tasks at sites in Milton Keynes, Rotherham and Hull.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company failed to assess or manage the risks associated with vibrating tools. It also failed to provide suitable training or health surveillance for its maintenance workers and failed to maintain and replace tools which increased vibration levels.

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Contractor fined after cable strike injuries

Folkestone Magistrates’ Court heard that, on 15th October 2018, G&R Groundworks operatives were using an electric ground breaker to dig fence post holes for a car park perimeter fence at a Cummins Power Generation site in Ramsgate, Kent.  While operating the electric breaker, one of the operatives struck an 11kv electricity cable causing a large flash and engulfing him in flames. The operative sustained serious burns to his face, chest, abdomen, groin, both arms and both legs, amounting to approximately 50% total body surface area burns. An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that the contractor had failed to source and refer to the underground services plans before breaking the ground to determine the location of any cables within the planned working area. It also failed to provide operatives with cable identification equipment to further locate any cables within that area.

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‘Don’t turn a blind eye to diabetes’, safety managers are warned

An estimated 4.7million people in the UK are affected by diabetes which, if not treated with proper medication and a healthy diet, can be life-threatening. Perhaps more surprisingly, around 1 million people are undiagnosed and are living wit diabetes without knowing about it. According to Specsavers, only one in five adults is aware that an optician can detect signs of diabetes during an eye test.  Many people with diabetes do not get any symptoms and it can take up to 10 years for them to be diagnosed. But left untreated, diabetes can damage the heart, kidneys, eyes and feet.

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Task specific COSHH guidance for welding, cutting and allied jobs

Revised guidance: exposure to welding fume

In February 2019 HSE issued a safety alert to inform industry of a change in relation to the control expectations for exposure to welding fume including that from mild steel welding.

HSE has now revised its guidance.

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health direct advice for welding to help make sure exposure to any welding fume released is adequately controlled has been published, along with HSE’s web pages on how to manage exposure to welding fume.

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Farm worker blinded by cleaning chemical

In August 2017, an employee was cleaning the walls of the dairy farm at Old House Farm in North Dean, Buckinghamshire, using a corrosive disinfectant DM CiD, which contains potassium hydroxide. The pump sprayer being used unexpectedly developed a fault and ruptured into the face of the employee. His face became covered in the caustic and corrosive disinfectant, rendering him permanently blind in both eyes.  The HSE’s investigation found that Beechdean Farm Limited failed to plan and supervise the use of chemicals for cleaning the dairy and did not have effective emergency arrangements in place.

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Rebar welding alert issued

Rebar welders are supposed to be certified to the new CARES Technical Appendices 11 and 12. These cover welding to the International Standard ISO 17660 and the new British Standard BS 8548:2017 Guidance for arc welding of reinforcing steel. The previous appendices and the associated BS 7123: 1989 Specification for metal arc welding for concrete reinforcement have been withdrawn.  BAR says that the main changes of the new ISO and British Standard are more rigorous testing including more tensile and shear tests, new regular production tests in addition to the weld procedure and welder qualification tests, plus new requirements for designated welding co-ordinators.

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UK drone pilots have until end of November to register with regulator

UK drone pilots have until the end of November to register their details with the Civil Aviation Authority.  The mandatory requirement to register covers owners of drones or model aircraft weighing more than 250g (8.8oz). Owners of unregistered drones could then face the threat of a fine.  At the same time, the CAA is starting a service it hopes will reunite owners with their lost drones. 

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Forklift truck safety shortcomings revealed

Mentor FLT Training has released a new report on ways to improve site safety after its recent survey revealed the troubling realities of forklift operations.  Forklift Safety Insights was released to coincide with the Fork Lift Truck Association’s National Forklift Safety Month, an annual campaign that raises awareness in order to reduce the severity and frequency of lift truck accidents in the UK, which has taken place throughout October.  Survey respondents were taken from a sample of UK businesses operating forklift trucks on site. As well as forklift use, the survey investigated key areas, such as manager and operator training, safe systems of work, segregation, monitoring, and operating environments.

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Building co fined £65k after carpenter falls from height

Significant gaps in generic risk assessments have led to a worker sustaining nerve and tissue damage to his lower back.  Luton Magistrates’ Court was told that on 2 May 2017, a 36-year-old employee was working for MP Building. He climbed up to remove a nail from a brace holding trusses, one of which started to fall causing the employee to fall with it.  Raised fall protection decking did not cover the whole area and left significant gaps. The carpenter sustained nerve and tissue damage to his lower back, whiplash to his neck and his little finger was ripped open.

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