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.

£1.2m fine follows arm amputation

On 26 April 2015 the employee of Mid-UK Recycling Ltd was working as a line operator in the building known as Unit 4 MRF (Material Recovery Facility). On the morning of the incident, blockages had occurred on this line and waste had become wrapped around the axle stopping a lower conveyor. It was whilst removing waste from this axle that the employee’s glove got dragged into the in-running nip between the belt and the powered roller of the conveyor. This resulted in his left arm being amputated above the elbow.  Investigating, the HSE revealed that the company had failed to prevent access to dangerous parts of the conveyor. The castell key system had essentially been bypassed allowing the system to be operated in automatic mode with persons still inside the enclosure.  

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Construction company fined after carpenter injured in fall from height

A Hitchin-based construction company has been sentenced after a carpenter sustained nerve and tissue damage to his lower back after a fall from height.  Luton Magistrates’ Court heard on 2 May 2017, the employee was working for and under the control of MP Building Limited. 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 safety decking used as fall mitigation within the building did not cover the whole area and left significant gaps.  The 36-year-old carpenter sustained nerve and tissue damage to his lower back, whiplash to neck and his little finger was ripped open.

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Sole director jailed after employee killed by excavator

Robert Harvey, sole director and employee of Front Row Builders Ltd has been sentenced after an employee, Nicholas Hall was crushed to death by an excavator bucket, which Harvey was operating.  The employee was pinned against the wall of an excavation pit for a vehicle wash bay that was under construction for Peter Lawless Road Planing Limited at Craighead Industrial Estate, Whistleberry Road, Blantyre.

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Manufacturing company fined after employee loses fingers

A manufacturing company has been fined after a worker’s hand was damaged whilst carrying out machinery repairs. Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 27 July 2018, an employee of Preston Board and Packaging Limited was trying to repair a cardboard slitting machine. Whilst in the process of lifting a chain back onto a sprocket, a roller attached to the chain dropped to the base of the machine trapping his fingers under the chain, resulting in his left-hand ring finger and the tip of his middle finger being severed. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found there was no risk assessment or safe system of work in place for replacing/repairing safety wires and chains on the slitter machine.

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Companies fined after workers exposed to asbestos

RJW Building Solutions Limited, a contractor carrying out refurbishment work at the Sea Hotel in South Shields, and Hotel 52 (Sea) Limited, the client company who arranged this work, were sentenced after workers disturbed asbestos.  South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard that while workers were refurbishing the bar area of the Sea Hotel in September and October 2018, they disturbed asbestos. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that both companies had failed to ensure an appropriate assessment was carried out to check for the presence of asbestos in the areas of the Sea Hotel where refurbishment work was taking place.

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6 in 10 construction workers suffer work-related mental ill health, survey finds

A new survey has revealed that 58% of those working in construction have suffered from mental health problems due to their job, and over a third have had to take time off work due to mental health problems. Released to coincide with yesterday’s World Mental Health Day, the study found that more than half of people in the construction industry have suffered mental health problems at one point in their lives, most often stemming from financial issues (45%), long hours (41%) and the physical strain of the job (41%). Despite this, only four out of ten (44%) have spoken out about it at work – and this figure rises to 71% for those aged over 55.

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Building materials company fined after worker died during maintenance and repair work

Cemex UK Operations Limited has been fined £1m after a worker suffered fatal injuries in Scotland when he was struck on the body by a centering machine lifting mast.  Livingston Sheriff Court heard that on 13 May 2017, James Brownlie was carrying out maintenance and repair work on a dry sided conveyor at the site in West Calder, part of which ran under a machine known as a centering machine. The centering machine was not isolated at the time and part of Mr Brownlie’s body interrupted the path of the light beam between the sensor’s emitter and reflector. This caused the machine’s lifting mast to activate and descend, striking him on the body and causing internal injuries from which he died a short time later.

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What3words: The app that could save the lives of rural workers and landowners

Electricity company, UK Power Networks has announced that it is to start encouraging members of the public to use the What3words smartphone app to pinpoint their location and accurately report overheard power line damage. Last month it was reported that police have urged everyone to download the What3words app, saying it had already been used to help save lives. It’s already being used by many emergency services to help get resources straight to the scene of an incident more effectively.

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Worker seriously injured in ladder fall

On 6 June 2018, at the company’s site in Northside, Workington, an employee was using a ladder to inspect a steam leak at height when the ladder failed and the employee fell to the ground.  Vertellus Specialties UK Limited of St Ann’s Wharf, Newcastle-upon-Tyne pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £120,000 with £5,155.80 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Carol Forster said: “Work at height accidents are one of the main causes of occupational injury and death. Employers should consider if working at height can be avoided and, if work at height is undertaken, it should be properly planned and managed appropriately and all equipment should be fit for purpose.”

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Fines for fire safety breaches have soared since Grenfell

Reviewing 200 of his cases brought under the legislation, fire safety solicitor Warren Spencer found that the average fine since the tragedy is £27,519, more than a third (35%) higher than the average across 2014-2019, which is £20,375.  His research, published to mark the 13th anniversary of the legislation coming into force, also found that three fire services have not brought a single prosecution under the order.  

The ground-breaking study reveals that the most enforced part of the order is Article 14, which relates to emergency routes and exits. And of Spencer’s 200 cases only nine defendants have pleaded not guilty to all charges brought.  The research might be the most detailed analysis yet of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

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