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.

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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Worker dies in Tata Port Talbot steelworks accident

A worker has died in a machine accident at Tata's Port Talbot steelworks.  Tata Steel Europe said the company's thoughts were with the contractor's family and a full investigation had been launched. An air ambulance was sent to the scene following the accident at about 14:00 BST on Wednesday. A South Wales Police spokesman described it as 'an isolated incident' and said there was no threat to the wider public.

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Rail leaders urged to prioritise safety as fatalities increase

A railway health and safety expert today calls on industry leaders to ensure managing risks to workers and passengers are a priority as new figures reveal the number of fatalities and injuries last year. Published by the Office of Rail and Road, the figures 17 passengers were killed and 377 suffered ‘major injuries’ in 2018-19, up from nine and 354 in the previous year and the highest numbers for a decade.  Meanwhile, two rail workers lost their lives and 6,247 were injured in accidents, 158 of them classed as ‘major injuries’. And there were 329 fatalities involving members of the public – those classed as neither passengers or workers – down from 336.

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Two workers have died in explosion at SSI site

Fire crews were called to the old coke ovens at the SSI site in South Bank, Middlesbrough, at 2:15pm on 19 September.  Cleveland Police confirmed that two workers were killed in a ‘huge’ explosion. The two workers were working at height inside a cherry picker, working near a gas holder when the explosion happened.

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HSE warning after safety concerns of Channel 4 show

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is to raise concerns with broadcasters after several instances of unsafe DIY practices were aired on a Channel 4 documentary this summer. The HSE, which regularly holds discussions with broadcasters is understood to have expressed concerns about incidents on the recent '£1 Houses: Britain’s Cheapest Street' programme, where homeowners were seen tackling jobs on the properties in an unsafe manner. 

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Employee killed by falling wooden bearer

On  7 September 2017, James Longair, 62 was helping a colleague who was operating a side loader at IODS Pipe Clad Limited, moving pipes from one part of the yard to another by lifting the pipes on the forks. The men decided that the pipe should be lifted at one end using a side loader. Once the pipe had been lifted at one end it rolled off the forks and struck the deceased on the leg before falling onto a wooden bearer. This sent the bearer into the air, striking the deceased on the head.  

The HSE’s investigation found that the work method used to lift and move the pipes was unsafe. In particular, there was no method to secure the pipe on the forks when lifted, which meant when the pipe began to roll along the forks the operator had no control over it. The pipe subsequently fell off the end of the forks, ultimately leading to the fatal injury.

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Tree service company sentenced after employee suffers finger amputation

Josh Noon Tree Services has been sentenced today after a worker suffered serious hand injuries when his hand was caught in a log splitting machine. Exeter Magistrates’ Court heard that on 29 December 2017, 33-year-old tree surgeon Darren Gillespie was working with another employee on the log splitting machine at the company’s site at Lapford, Crediton.

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Company director fined after worker impaled on a spike

Hafeez Ghafoor, formerly a director of the now-dissolved landscaping company R K United Ltd, has been sentenced for safety breaches after a worker suffered life changing injuries. Leeds Crown Court heard that on 25 August 2016, an employee of R K United Ltd was using a lorry loader crane to deliver a load of soil to a new house on Otley Road, in Leeds. As he brought the crane arm down, his left arm was impaled on a spike which was protruding from the control system. The impact caused several bones in his arm to be shattered.

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