February 2016 Newsletter
3rd of March 2016 – World Hearing Day
Housing trust fined following ride-on mower incident
A Tameside housing trust has been fined after a 24-year-old worker suffered severe injuries to his left hand when it was struck by a metal blade on a ride-on mower. He had to have his thumb and forefinger amputated following the incident and is now unable to grip with his left hand or use his remaining fingers, the court heard.
The worker from Stockport, who has asked not to be named, sustained several broken bones in the incident on Hitchen Drive in Dukinfield on 28 March 2014. A hospital x-ray has been released showing the extent of his injuries.
Manchester Crown Court heard the worker was using a ride-on mower for the first cut of the season, with a grass box attached. The chute to the grass box often became blocked, as the grass was long and wet.
On one occasion, the employee reached into the chute to clear a blockage when his hand came into contact with a metal fan, which was still rotating.
New Charter Housing Trust was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found that:
• the organisation had failed to consider the risks from the work;
• the organistaion had failed to provide professional training or to give clear instructions on what to do if the mowers became blocked; and
• the worker had not received training on how to use the mower, and did not know that the fan continued to rotate for around 30 seconds after the engine was switched off.
New Charter Housing Trust, of Cavendish Street in Ashton-under-Lyne, was fined £140,000 and ordered to pay £70,000 in prosecution costs after being found guilty of a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Speaking after the hearing, the HSE Inspector said: “A young worker has suffered injuries that will affect him for the rest of his life but they could easily have been avoided. New Charter Housing Trust should have planned the work properly and provided appropriate training, so workers knew to wait for the fan to stop.”
Warning to schools after lab technician is seriously injured
The HSE has warned that all schools need to have clear health and safety arrangements in place for their staff and students, following an incident in which a chemistry laboratory technician lost parts of three fingers and sustained a serious internal injury while preparing a highly sensitive explosive for use in a ‘fireworks’ demonstration to a class of children.
Bristol Magistrates’ Court heard the now retired staff member lost the top joints of his left hand index, middle and ring fingers and ruptured his bowel while preparing the explosive at Bristol Cathedral Choir School.
The HSE prosecuting told the court the laboratory technician spent 12 days in total in hospital after the October 2014 incident. Although he returned to work in February 2015, he has since retired.
It was revealed that the preparation of explosive substances had been carried out in the school several times a year since 2009. The mixture in question and other substances had been used in ‘fireworks’ demonstrations.
The court also heard that other explosive substances, namely flash powder and gunpowder, were stored in the school’s chemistry storeroom.
HSE said the incident could have been avoided if the school had implemented clear management arrangements to control and review the risks posed by the chemicals used in its teaching activities.
Bristol Cathedral Choir School, of College Square, Bristol, admitted that it failed to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of its employees, in breach of its duty under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
It also admitted failing to conduct its undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in its employment, in this case its pupils, were not exposed to risks to their health and safety, in breach of its duty under Section 3 of the same act.
The school was fined a total of £26,000 [£8,000 for the section 2 offence and £18,000 for the section 3 offence] and ordered to pay £12,176 costs.
After the hearing, the HSE inspector said: “Schools need to have clear health and safety arrangements in place for their staff and students.
“They should set up adequate control systems and ensure that these arrangements are clearly understood and adhered to. They should also follow recognised guidance provided by CLEAPSS (formerly known as the Consortium of Local Education Authorities for the Provision of Science Services) and similar organisations regarding the control of risks to health and safety in practical science work.”
Coachbuilder fined £50k after young worker loses finger
A Cheshire coachbuilding firm has been fined after a worker sustained injuries to his hand when using an unguarded planer. The company, which has previously been prosecuted for two fatal accidents, had identified machine guarding as a control measure within its risk assessment.
Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard how on 9 December 2013, a 21-year-employee at S. Cartwright and Sons (Coachbuilders) Ltd, was feeding wood over the planer when his fingers touched the blades, resulting in the amputation of his little finger and injuries to his right hand that later required skin grafts.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the guards on the machine were not in the correct position. The injured worker had previously used the machine with others to help with guiding wood, but had never used it on his own prior to the incident.
The court was told that the incident could have been prevented had machinery guarding been in place, a control measure identified in the company’s own risk assessment.
The firm did not ensure management systems were in place to achieve sustained compliance to safety measures. The company also failed to monitor and supervise untrained employees entering the woodwork shop.
The court heard the company had been prosecuted three times by HSE over safety failings which included two fatal accidents and have received 12 enforcement notices since 2001, including an Improvement Notice in 2006 regarding no suitable and sufficient risk assessment.
Cartwright and Sons (Coachbuilders) Limited of Atlantic Street, Broadheath, Altrincham, Cheshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £50,000 with £5890 costs.
The HSE inspector said after the hearing: “A man suffered life changing injuries which could have been prevented had the company’s safety systems been properly managed. The management of health and safety systems is paramount in order for companies to ensure employees safety, wellbeing and morale”.
Worker paralysed after fall caused by electric shock
An electrical power company has been fined £300,000 after a worker was paralysed after receiving an electric shock and falling from a ladder.
Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court heard how, an employee of Bristol based Western Power Distribution PLC, suffered permanent spinal injuries as a result of falling from height after coming into contact with live electrical equipment.
He, was part of a two-man team tasked with changing an antenna at Brithdir cemetery in April 2013. After climbing a ladder he received an electric shock when he touched the antenna. Pushing himself off the ladder to avoid potential electrocution, he fell four and a half metres. As a result of his injuries he now has to use a wheelchair.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found there to be a fault in the wiring causing the external metal to become connected to the 230v power supply.
Western Power Distribution (South Wales)PLC, of Avonbank, Feeder Road, Bristol, was fined a total of £300,000, and ordered to pay £18,178 in costs, after pleading guilty to an offence under Regulation 4(1) and 4(3) of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989.
Speaking after the hearing, the HSE Inspector, said: “the worker suffered life-changing injuries as a result of the company’s failure to carry out adequate tests on electrical equipment and was lucky not to have received a fatal electric shock.”
Manufacturing firm fined £750k after young worker’s death
Manufacturing company Hanson Packed Products Ltd has been prosecuted after a 26-year-old worker was fatally crushed when his arm was caught in a powered roller. A critical guard was missing on the machine, the court heard.
The workere was clearing sand around the base of an in-feed conveyor at the company’s bagging site in Dagenham on 25 September 2013 moments before his right arm was drawn into the roller.
Southwark Crown Court heard that there should have been fixed guards surrounding the powered roller to prevent access to the dangerous moving parts. However, a critical guard was not in place.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that a guard had not been in place on the machine for a few days. It also found there had been issues with the machinery on the previous day which Mr Ridge was trying to rectify at the time of the incident.
Hanson Packed Products Ltd of Hanson House, Castle Hill, Maidenhead, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and were fined £750,000 and ordered to pay costs of £29,511.
After the hearing the HSE Principal Inspector said: “This death of a young worker could and should have been prevented. Where safety depends on guards, employers need to regularly inspect them and be confident they are properly in place and that they are effective. Our thoughts are with the Ridge family as they prepare for another Christmas without William.”
Bar owner fined after customer accidentally served line cleaner
A bar and its owner have been fined £25,000 for serving a glass of beer line cleaner (caustic soda) instead of beer to a customer. The customer suffered “exquisite pain” immediately after swallowing the liquid and was taken to hospital with severe internal injuries. He was placed in an induced coma and eventually had to have surgery to remove his oesophagus.
A “flawed line cleaning system” led to the incident, which happened at The New Conservatory in Leeds on 19 July 2014, the Judge said.
The court heard the customer asked to taste a pale ale called “Sunbeam” and on swallowing it, began gasping and vomiting.
The bartender who served it did not know the line was being cleaned at the time, as the liquid which came out of the pump was a similar colour to the beer.
An investigation revealed a new member of staff had inadvertently turned the beer badge on the pump to face customers prior to the drink being served, not realising turning it the other way indicated it was unavailable.
Passing sentence, the District Judge said: “A system that relies on a beer badge not being inadvertently turned around the other way and staff being aware potentially exposes people to risk.
“This is not a case of saying, ‘Oh well, if only we knew then what we know now’, because the coming together of these events were, to an extent, waiting to happen.”
Director Nick Bird admitted failing to protect the health and safety of customers and was sentenced earlier.
The company and Mr Bird, 31, of Back York Street, Leeds, were also ordered to pay costs of almost £18,000.
Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for environmental protection and community safety said: “What started out as a day off sightseeing in Leeds ended in tragedy for the man.
“When taken on their own, the events that led to this incident seem minor but the knock-on effects had a catastrophic outcome.”
Engineering company fined for safety breaches
An engineering company firm has been fined for safety failings after a member of the public witnessed workers on a fragile roof without any preventative measures to avoid risk of falling.
Redhill Magistrates’ Court heard how in September 2014 employees of Todd Engineering Limited, of Staffordshire, were working on a fragile roof installing ventilation ducting. The risks were obvious, but nothing was in place to prevent either falling off the edge of the roof or through the roof.
Falls from height remain one of the biggest causes of deaths at work in the UK. Fortunately, no-one was injured in this incident.
Todd Engineering Limited, of Gregory Works, Armitage Road, Rugeley was fined a total of £10,000 and ordered to pay £4,782 in costs after pleading guilty to an offence under Regulation 4(1)(a) of the Work at Heights Regulations 2005.
Speaking after the hearing, the HSE Inspector said: “It is essential that all roof work is properly planned by a competent person and competent workers are clearly instructed on how to carry out the work safely. It is not acceptable to simply rely on sending the workers to site and expecting that they will carry out the work safely, as was the case here.”
Brain injury sees solar farm contractor fined £250,000
Two construction contractors have been sentenced at Exeter Crown Court after a worker received an electric shock from an overhead power line at a renewable energy installation that left him with brain injuries.
Exeter Crown Court, where BSR and Pascon were charged and fine.
The worker, who was working onsite for subcontractor Pascon, was installing cables in a trench when an excavator tracked under a 33kV overhead power line and struck it. He was helping to control the cable drum suspended from the arm of the excavator when the incident happened on 13 March 2013.
He had to be resuscitated after receiving a shock which left him with a life-changing brain injury. The court heard that the worker is unlikely to work again having lost much of his independence. His speech is affected, he suffers with short-term memory loss, has some mobility issues, and no longer feels pain.
Two other workers also received shocks but were not seriously injured.
Pascon was contracted to carry out the work by British Solar Renewables (BSR), which was installing a solar energy farm at Knockworthy Farm in Great Torrington, Devon.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), BSR did not install warning signs about the nearby power lines, while Pascon failed to assess the risks of working under the lines.
Principal contractor BSR of Glastonbury, Somerset, was charged with breaching Regulation 34(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM) 2007 and fined £250,000. It must also pay £72,466 in costs. Under this regulation, electric power cables either must be directed away from the area of risk, or clear warning signs put in place.
Subcontractor Pascon was fined £35,000 plus £25,000 contribution to costs after pleading guilty to a breach of Regulation 13(2) of CDM 2007, which requires contractors to ensure construction work is carried out with minimal risks to health and safety.
“This incident was entirely preventable and arose from clear failures to plan, manage and monitor the work and to ensure that the construction site was set up with appropriate measures to control the risks of working under overhead power lines,” said the HSE inspector.
“Luckily the worker was resuscitated, but he now suffers from life changing complications due the electric shock he received. He was extremely close to losing his life and this is down to the failure of both construction companies involved in the work.”
Supervision failings drove Hanson’s £750,000 guarding fine
Lack of supervision of hazardous operations were at the heart of the failings which saw Hanson Packed Products fined £750,000.
William Ridge was drawn into the roller of an in-feed conveyor at Hanson’s aggregates bagging site in Dagenham Essex and died. The conveyor’s guard had been removed a few days before the incident.
The conveyor, which fed a bagging line for construction sand, started under a hopper outside the plant into which deliveries of building aggregate were delivered. HSE principal inspector Stephen Hartley led the executive’s prosecution and told IOSH Magazine the end of the conveyor on Line 3 (pictured above) had been shedding sand the day before, so Hanson workers, including 26-year-old Ridge, had been digging out built up material around the tail end drum to keep the line going.
Hartley said it is not clear whether Ridge was trying to fix the line or just to remove accumulated sand when he was drawn into the exposed in-running nip between the drum and the belt, but closed circuit TV footage of the back of the plant seized by the HSE showed the box guard which would have prevented access to the roller had not been in place before the incident.
“The guard was found under a mound of sand,” said Hartley. “It had been held in place by four nuts and no nuts nor any tools were recovered from the scene … which was consistent with the guard being off for a few days.”
Hartley said Hanson has sophisticated management systems, produced evidence that Ridge and his colleagues had been well trained and that he had filled in a preproduction sheet which asked if all the guards were fitted.
“Hanson accepted that the fundamental issue was failings in supervision and failing to have an effective guarding inspection regime,” he added, noting the company had adopted an enhanced inspection regime for some bagging lines before Ridge was fatally injured. “Line 3 was one of the ones they hadn’t quite got to,” he said.
Hanson Packed Products admitted a charge under Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and at Southwark Crown Court on 17 December was fined £750,000 plus prosecution costs of £29,511.
Hartley said the fine was considerable for what was a “relatively narrow breach”, albeit a fatal one.
“This was not a company that was doing absolutely nothing, or had scant regard for its workers or was putting profit before other factors,” he said, but noted that Hanson had been fined in 2010 for a conveyor fatality at another site and that it had been one of the parties convicted in a separate fatality case earlier in the month.
The judge had referred closely to the 2009 sentencing guideline for HSW Act offences causing fatalities (due to be superseded next month) taking into account both a serious shortfall in Hanson Packed Products standards, its turnover of £44 million last year but also its early admission of guilt in arriving at the penalty.
“We serve countless notices on poorly guarded conveyors,” Hartley concluded. “People still seem to forget, these things don’t take prisoners.”
Kitchen co had no proper guarding on tenoning machine
A luxury kitchen manufacturer has been taken to court after a worker’s hand got trapped on a revolving cutting block that was not correctly guarded and deemed unsuitable for use in manual mode.
The worker had two fingers on his right hand amputated following the incident on 31 October 2014.
Bespoke in Oak was sentenced at Northampton Magistrates’ Court, when it was revealed there was no functioning limited cutter projection tooling on the cutting block and dangerous moving parts were exposed.
Limiters control the thickness of the workpieces that come into contact with the cutter, reducing the risk of it being “snatched” by the machine and kicked back at the operator. They reduce injury if a worker comes into contact with the rotating tool and have been required on hand-fed woodworking machines since 2003.
Bespoke in Oak did not train the operator on how to use the equipment, the court heard, while his supervisor failed to notice the unsafe working method. Also, the cutting block was on a single-end tenoning machine and should not have been set to manual.
The company was fined £40,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulations 4(1), 11(1), 9(1) and 9(2) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 for failing to ensure the suitability of work equipment, not preventing access to dangerous machinery, and failing to provide adequate training. It was also ordered to pay full costs of £1,896.
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