August 2016 Newsletter
Company fined £100,000 after an agency worker was injured when he fell two metres from a ladder.
Scarborough Magistrates’ Court heard how an agency worker employed with Pauls Malt Limited at their West Knapton malting factory, near Malton, was injured when he fell approximately two metres from a ladder. He sustained two fractures to his right foot and bruising to his chest and head injuries.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident found that the company had not carried out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the work at height.
A system of work had developed which involved propping a 4-metre long ladder which was too long for its purpose and was propped at too shallow an angle. The ladder slipped outwards at the foot causing the agency worker to fall with the ladder.
Pauls Malt Limited (trading as Boortmalt), of Eastern Way, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,257.
Working at Height (Recap)
What is working at height?
In simple terms working at height is when a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury. You are working at height if you:
- work above the ground
- could fall from an edge or through an opening/surface
- could fall from ground level into an opening in the floor or hole in the ground
Falls from height are the most common cause of fatalities in the workplace. Latest figures from the HSE show that on average there are 39 fatal injuries from falls from height a year.
Before working at height work through these simple steps:
- avoid work at height where it’s reasonably practicable to do so
- where work at height cannot be easily avoided, prevent falls using either an existing place of work that is already safe or the right type of equipment
- minimise the distance and consequences of a fall, by using the right type of equipment where the risk cannot be eliminated
Dos and don’ts of working at height
- as much work as possible from the ground
- ensure workers can get safely to and from where they work at height
- ensure equipment is suitable, stable and strong enough for the job, maintained and checked regularly
- take precautions when working on or near fragile surfaces
- provide protection from falling objects
- consider emergency evacuation and rescue procedures
- ·overload ladders – consider the equipment or materials workers are carrying before working at height. Check the pictogram or label on the ladder for information
- ·overreach on ladders or stepladders
- rest a ladder against weak upper surfaces, eg glazing or plastic gutters
- use ladders or stepladders for strenuous or heavy tasks, only use them for light work of short duration (a maximum of 30 minutes at a time)
- let anyone who is not competent (who doesn’t have the skills, knowledge and experience to do the job) work at height
Talk About Cases:
Construction firm fined £143,000 after worker falls down a lift pit
Cardiff-based construction company, Jehu Project Services Ltd, has been sentenced after a worker was seriously injured falling down a lift pit. The incident happened on 8 July 2015 at a construction site in Pontcanna, Cardiff. Stephen Harrison, a specialist drilling contractor, was employed by Jehu to help refurbish a 73-bed care home when he fell into the basement of a lift pit that was under construction.
Mr Harrison stepped onto the ground floor having been working off a tower scaffold, but stood on a loose concrete block causing him to fall backwards, head-first, into a skip full of rubble on the floor below.
A specialist Fire and Rescue team were nearby and after stabilising Mr Harrison, attached him to the hook of a tower crane and winched him out of the pit, over the site and into the carpark of a housing estate nearby where an ambulance was waiting.
Mr Harrison suffered shattered vertebrae, five broken ribs, a punctured lung and spent 18 days in hospital. He is still recovering and although not paralysed, his injuries were life-changing and he will not return to work.
HSE investigated the incident and found that Jehu had been using a system of lightweight barriers around the edges of the drop, along with bean bags at the bottom of the hole, but these were incompatible with all of the work that needed to be done by the different contractors and had been removed. Following the incident, all of the danger areas were fenced with scaffolding.
Jehu Project Services Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, Regulation 13(1) and Work at Height Regulations 2005, Regulation 6(3) and was fined £143,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £15,029.30.
HSE Inspector Liam Osborne, who brought the case, said: “It is crucial that construction firms properly think through the risks involved before starting work, they then need to ensure there is a workable plan to iron-out or manage the resultant dangers.
“There is a clear hierarchy for managing work at height risks, site managers need to prevent it if possible and then provide suitable fixed barriers. Lower-order measures, such as soft-landing systems or the use of harnesses should only be selected as a last resort and if it is safe and appropriate to do so”.
Worker suffers serious burns after clothing catches fire
A foundry based in Batley has been fined after a worker suffered serious burns when his clothing caught fire.
Bradford Crown Court heard how an employee of Batley Foundry Limited was undertaking work involving the use of isopropanol and a paint-like solution. The bucket containing the solution caught fire which then set light to his clothes, causing serious burns.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident which occurred on 5 August 2014 found that the company failed to provide adequate training, work equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE).
Batley Foundry Limited, of Warwick Road, Batley, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9000.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector John Boyle said:
“A worker was left with serious injuries as a result of this incident. Had the company taken a number of simple measures prior to the work activity taking place – such as the provision of suitable work equipment, training and personal protective equipment – then it may well have been avoided.”
Engineering firm found guilty of breaching PUWER (1998) and fined £14,000 after worker loses finger in lathe machine
A Hampshire based engineering firm has been fined after a worker severed a finger in a metal working lathe.
Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court heard how the company had allowed the custom and practice of defeating interlocks on CNC metal working lathes to develop. This meant that machines could be operated whilst allowing access to the moving parts.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident which occurred on 3rd July 2015 found that the worker’s hand had come into contact with the moving parts of the machine whilst he was attempting to release a jammed work-piece. This resulted in one of his fingers being severed.
Repro Engineering Limited, of Aysgarth Road, Waterlooville, Portsmouth, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, and was fined £14,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,222.
HSE Inspector Frank Flannery speaking after the case said: “This incident could have been prevented by more active and robust management action, it sends out a message to employers that tampering with safety devices can lead to injury and prosecution”
Hand Arm Vibration (HAV) (Recap)
Hand arm vibration comes from the use of hand-held power tools and is the cause of significant ill health (painful and disabling disorders of the blood vessels, nerves and joints), nearly 2 million people are at risk. Hand Arm Vibration is largely made up of two conditions, Vibration White Finger (VWF) and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). Damage from HAVS can include the inability to do fine work and cold can trigger painful finger blanching attacks. HAVS is preventable, but once the damage is done it is permanent.
.You are at risk if you regularly use hand-held or hand guided power tools such as:
- Sanders, grinders, disc cutters
- Hammer drills
- Chipping hammers
- Concrete breakers, concrete pokers
- Chainsaws, brush cutters, hedge trimmers
- Powered mowers
Early Signs and symptoms include:
- Tingling and numbness in the fingers (which can cause sleep disturbance).
- Not being able to feel things with your fingers.
- Loss of strength in your hands (you may be less able to pick up or hold heavy objects).
- In the cold and wet, the tips of your fingers going white then red and being painful on recovery
If you continue to use high-vibration tools these symptoms will probably get worse, for example:
- The numbness in your hands could become permanent and you won’t be able to feel things at all;
- You will have difficulty picking up small objects such as screws or nails;
What should I do as an employer?
- Find out from your employees and their supervisors which, if any, processes involve regular exposure to vibration (eg processes using the equipment listed in ‘Which jobs and tools produce a risk?’ or other vibrating equipment);
- See whether there are any warnings of vibration risks in equipment handbooks;
- Ask employees if they have any of the HAVS symptoms described in these web pages and whether the equipment being used produces high levels of vibration or uncomfortable strains on hands and arms.
- Assess who is at risk
If there is likely to be a risk you need to assess who is at risk and to what degree. The risk assessment needs to enable you to decide whether your employees’ exposures are likely to be high or low risk and to identify which work activities you need to control. You could do the risk assessment yourself or appoint a competent person to do it for you.
For details on your role as an employer visit:
In 2015 a Ltd Company was fined £14,000 for breaching the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court. An employee of UPP (Broadgate Park) Limited operated mowers, strimmers, and a leaf blower as part of his work for the company, and was regularly exposed to levels of vibration which were above the Exposure Limit Value and Exposure Action Value. He reported ill health symptoms to his line manager but no action was taken.
UPP (Broadgate Park) Limited, of Gracechurch Street, London, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive and pleaded guilty to Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Regulation 5(1) of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 and fined a total of £14,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £1,943.
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