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.

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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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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