June 2015 Newsletter
Statement – HSE’s investigation into the incident at Alton Towers
Neil Craig, head of operations for HSE in the Midlands, said:
“This was a major incident and members of the public have suffered serious injuries. It meets the criteria for an HSE investigation and our inspectors were at Alton Towers yesterday to begin making inquiries.
“We have assembled a team of specialist inspectors and technical investigators and they will be on site today to continue our investigation.
“Our role is to establish the facts. We will want to determine that those responsible for operating this ride have done what the law requires. We will also ensure that if there are any lessons to be learned they are shared as soon as possible.
“Although the investigation is in its early stages, we will take action to protect the public if we uncover evidence that could affect the safety of other rides at the park or elsewhere.”
A number of HSE inspectors have been specially trained to form its National Fairground Inspection Team (NFIT).
The team investigating this incident at Alton Towers is being supported on site by specialists in mechanical engineering, electrics and control systems from HSE’s Health and Safety Laboratory in Buxton, Derbyshire.
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 places a general duty on those operating rides to ensure that members of the public are not – so far as is reasonably practicable – exposed to risks to their health and safety. Other legislation, including laws requiring annual safety inspections and maintenance of electrical installations, also apply to theme parks.
While HSE is the national regulator, fairground safety involves a range of organisations working together. This includes the ride designers, manufacturers, importers, the bodies who carry out design reviews and thorough examinations, through to the owners, controllers and operators of the rides. Representatives from all of these bodies sit on the Amusement Devices Safety Council (ADSC) and this body sets the safety standards that it requires all of its members to abide by.
All duty holders within the system have responsibilities, and have a duty under health and safety law to build, review, examine, maintain and operate their rides in such a way that the health and safety of their own employees and the general public is not put at risk.
To assist duty holders comply with the law HSE has published the guidance document, Fairgrounds & Amusement Parks: Guidance on safe practice (HSG175). http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg175.pdf .
HSE’s National Fairgrounds Inspection Team concentrates on inspecting poor performers in specific areas i.e. particular machines, controllers or ride examiners, with the ultimate objective of improving public safety.
HSE also works nationally with all of the main industry organisations through the HSE chaired Fairgrounds Joint Advisory Committee (FJAC) and the industry governing body the Amusement Devices Safety Council (ADSC), to improve safety.
More than 1 in 5 UK workplaces are “bad for worker’s health”
Work is having a negative impact on people’s health and wellbeing, with 1 in 5 workplaces being ‘bad for worker’s health’, a study has found.
The study of 2,000 full and part time UK workers conducted by One4All Rewards, highlights the importance of employers making a conscious effort to look after the welfare of their workers.
In the past year, 11 per cent of employees said that they had become ill as a direct result of their work. Twice that number said that they regularly suffer from high levels of stress due to work pressures. And 17 per cent admitted that they often had problems sleeping as a result of their jobs.
As a result, a significant proportion (23 per cent confessed that they were underperforming in their work. When asked to estimate what impact a more positive environment would have on their performance, 22 per cent estimated that their output would improve by over 10 per cent.
Worryingly, only 6 per cent of workers felt that work actually had a positive impact on their health and wellbeing, indicating how few UK employees find work a positive and enjoyable experience.
Managing director of One4all Rewards, comments, “These are worrying findings for everyone. Not only are many workers feeling increasingly stretched and unhappy, but their employers are also losing out as stressed-out workers significantly underperform.
“Recent studies have shown how 80 per cent of white collar workers in the UK currently work over 40 hours per week and also that developments in technology mean that it is getting harder and harder to switch off when not in the office.
“This report indicates the importance employers should be placing on ‘Workplace Wellness’ – not only out of a sense of corporate responsibility, but also as a way to boost productivity and give them a competitive edge when recruiting and retaining the best staff.”
Workers in London are the worst affected according to the research, with 33 per cent admitting that their work is suffering as they are (compared to the national average of 23%).
Those workers most likely to be in relatively junior positions (those aged between 25 and 35), are also feeling the pressure, with 30% admitting their performance was below par.
Meanwhile the worst affected sectors are IT, PR and Marketing, with 37 per cent of workers reporting reduced productivity as a result of poor health or stress.
The MD continues, “In order to create more positive working environments, businesses need to consider how they can incentivise better behaviours. Putting out the right messages about working habits and rewarding people with health-enhancing benefits, such as fitness activities, duvet days and creating the right facilities in the office can make commercial sense as well as being good corporate behaviour.”
Man injured in building collapse in central London
A building collapsed in central London yesterday afternoon, injuring a man.
The London Fire Brigade was called to the site in Holborn when part of the building and its surrounding scaffolding collapsed injuring a demolition worker.
The man was taken to hospital with injuries to his head and hip after part of the building collapsed.
About 200 people were evacuated from nearby properties and the building site, and hazard response teams attended the scene.
The building was being demolished at the time of its collapse, the London Fire Brigade said.
It added that the building had collapsed in on itself, rather than onto the streets below.
Station Manager, who was at the scene, said: “When the first crews arrived they found the building, which was under refurbishment, had collapsed between the fifth and second floors.
“Firefighters gave first aid to an injured man on site until ambulance crews arrived and also helped police put safety cordons in place and to evacuate people from the immediate area.”
The collapse of the upper floors brought down demolition machinery and tonnes of rubble causing the lower floors to give way.
Eye witnesses said most of the construction team had been on a break on a different part of the site when the building came down.
Another eyewitness, said the building was being demolished “layer by layer”.
He said: “There was a lot of dust but I could see there was a digger down amongst the rubble and one or two builders were running around trying to get someone out of the digger.
“The operator seemed to be trapped in the digger. When I checked the photos I had taken I saw there were two people standing on the upper layer looking down. They seem to have had a really lucky escape to me, because everything else had just collapsed around them.”
The site is being demolished by specialist Keltbray.
The Managing Director of the company said: “We can confirm there has been an incident at Portugal Street, where Keltbray was working on the demolition of a building when part of the building and scaffolding collapsed.
“One man has been taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Fortunately nobody else was hurt.
“Emergency services were immediately called to the scene and all people in the vicinity were evacuated.
“All operations on site have been suspended while we work with all the relevant authorities to investigate and fully understand the circumstances of the incident.”
The Health and Safety Executive has been informed.
Two firms fined after worker knocked by four-tonne hammer
A worker suffered fractures to his back, hip and leg after he was knocked over by a four-tonne piling hammer when it broke free while being lifted into position, a court has heard.
The worker, was controlling the piling hammer, suspended from an excavator, during work to renew a sewage outfall across the beach at Burn Road, Hartlepool when the incident happened.
He was standing in seawater, around one metre deep, using the hammer to drive timber piles into the beach. But as the hammer was moved from one pile to the next, the sling supporting it broke and the hammer fell, knocking him down into the water.
He suffered fractures to his vertebra, pelvis and left thigh as well as muscle damage to his back, shoulder and knee and was in hospital for 11 days. He has been unable to return to work and although he can walk unaided he still suffers persistent pain and has had to move to a bungalow to avoid stairs.
Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court was told that an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the workers employer Southbay Civil Engineering Ltd, a specialist civil engineering contractor, had failed to properly plan, supervise and carry out the lifting operation in a safe manner.
The investigation also found that principal contractor for the project, Costain Ltd, had failed to properly manage and monitor this phase of the work.
The court was told a smaller hammer, which was easily lifted into position by the excavators on site, had been identified when the work was initially planned. However, the smaller hammer was found not to be powerful enough so a larger hammer was brought in.
The additional weight was not an issue for the excavators, but the extra length led to problems when lifting the hammer over some piles, which led to unsafe working practices being used, in which the slings were stressed over the sharp edges of excavator buckets in an attempt to gain extra height.
This was what caused the sling to break, and the hammer to fall. This could have been avoided if the work plan had been changed when the larger hammer was introduced and a suitable lifting machine used.
Costain Ltd, of Vanwall Business Park, Maidenhead, Berkshire, was fined £19,000 and ordered to pay £14,895.25 costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 22(1)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.
Southbay Civil Engineering Ltd, of The Bailey, Cumberland Road, North Shields, was fined £19,000 and ordered to pay £8,652.45 costs after pleading guilty to a breach of Regulation 8(1)(c) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.
After the case, the HSE inspector said: “This worker’s injuries should not and need not have happened. Had the work plan been changed when the circumstances changed and a different hammer was brought into use, it could have easily been avoided by using a suitable lifting machine.
“Instead, a system of work evolved that was far from safe and as a result part of the sling was stretched across the sharp edge of the excavator bucket, causing it to break.
“The failures by both companies to look properly at the risks involved and then organise the lifting operation properly put staff at needless risk. This sadly led to the painful and life-changing injuries suffered by the worker.”
Bristol City Council fined after worker thrown from tractor
Bristol City Council has been ordered to pay almost £25,000 for safety failings after a park keeper suffered serious injuries when she was thrown from a tractor as it overturned. HSE said that the council had inadequate systems in place to ensure operators were suitably trained in the use of this equipment and failed to identify the need for a suitable seat restraint.
The worker, from Bristol, who doesn’t wish to be named, broke her pelvis and badly damaged an Achilles tendon in the incident. She remained off work for a year but has since returned and is undertaking an office job.
An investigation by HSE led to a prosecution on at Bristol Magistrates’ Court.
The court heard the park keeper, who was carrying out maintenance work, was driving the tractor with a trailer attached and had braked as the tractor descended a slope. The vehicle skidded and she turned to avoid a fence but it overturned, throwing her from the seat.
HSE found the tractor was not fitted with a seat belt or any type of restraint and the Council failed to ensure their employee had received adequate training on the use of the tractor.
The investigation also identified the nearly new tractor and trailer had been acquired by Bristol City Council shortly before the incident but outside the normal procurement procedure and, as a result, no supplier training was provided.
Bristol City Council of City Hall, College Green, Bristol, was fined a total of £20,000 and ordered to pay £4,700 in costs after admitting two breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
After the hearing, the HSE inspector, said: “This incident was entirely preventable and has caused the worker considerable suffering and distress. She had trained three years for her park keeper role but is now office-bound and will need further surgery on the tendon requiring a 12-18 month recovery.
“Every year, there are accidents involving transport in the workplace, some of which result in people being injured or even killed. People fall from vehicles, are knocked down, run over, or crushed against fixed parts, plant and trailers.
“Bristol City Council had inadequate systems in place to ensure operators were suitably trained in the use of this equipment and failed to identify the need for a suitable seat restraint.”
Window firm fined after worker’s severe hand injury
A window manufacturing firm has been fined £10,000 after a worker cut off all four fingers and most of his right hand while using a chop saw. It was heard in court how the employee was not adequately trained.
The employee was working at Griffin Windows, Treorchy, Mid Glamorgan when the incident occurred.
Pontypridd Magistrates’ Court heard how he was cutting down thermal plastic inserts for window frames on a chop saw, but due to the lack of training provided he was operating the saw incorrectly- in that he was placing his hand close to the blade whilst wearing gloves and arm protectors.
Masco (UK) Window Group Limited, of which Griffin Windows are part of, pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £10,000, and ordered to pay full costs of £2,940.
Bedford company to pay £415k after unsupervised teenage trainee dies
A company which manufactures pumping systems has been sentenced after the death of a 19-year-old trainee design engineer, who died when he came into contact with a live 3 phase electrical system.
The trainee was carrying out electrical testing work at the Grundfos Pumps Ltd factory in Windsor when the incident happened. He was working unsupervised whilst testing a live electrical control panel.
It was heard how Grundfos Pumps Ltd had not adequately risk assessed the testing of live electrical panels to identify a safe system of work and failed to provide suitable training and supervision to undertake 3 phase live testing. An unsafe system of work was found to be the cause of the trainee’s death.
Grundfos Pumps Limited, Leighton Buzzard, Bedford, appeared at Reading Crown Court on 11 May 2015 and was fined £300,000, with total costs of £115,000 after pleading guilty to breaching the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 3, (1) (a), and the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 Reg 3, (1)(a), contrary to Regulation 14.
The Inspector for the HSE, said: “This tragic incident could and should have been avoided. Grundfos Pumps Limited’s failure to adequately risk assess the electrical testing process led to an unsafe system work being in place. Training and supervision arrangements were clearly inadequate.
“If live electrical testing has to be undertaken, suitable precautions must be in place.”
Grundfos Pumps Ltd said in a statement: “A Trainee Design Engineer with Grundfos Control Solutions, who were at that time based at Windsor, died as a result of an accident at work.
“This sad and difficult situation was met with tremendous disbelief by all concerned and Grundfos have fully co-operated with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) throughout the investigation process that has now been concluded.
“The company pleaded guilty to two charges brought against it by HSE and they accept the penalty imposed by the court and note that, in passing sentence, the company’s overall good record in terms of health and safety and its prompt remedial measures were recognised by the judge.
£185,000 fine after worker hurt driving faulty picker truck
A Milton Keynes-based company has been fined £185,000 after a worker was injured driving a faulty picker truck.
Aylesbury Crown Court heard how a worker was thrown from the low level order picker when its steering malfunctioned, resulting in his right foot becoming trapped underneath it, fracturing three of his bones.
An investigation by Milton Keynes Council’s environmental health team found that the vehicle the worker had driven had been reported as defective but had not been repaired.
Logistics company Kuehne + Nagel were found to not have an adequate system in place to ensure that defective vehicles were taken out of use and repaired prior to being reused.
It was discovered that management had been advised of failings by staff but the company failed to heed these warnings.
The company based in Snelshall West, Milton Keynes pleaded guilty and was fined £185,000, for one breach under Sections 2 and 33 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The firm was also ordered to pay Milton Keynes Council’s costs of £25,500.
In his sentencing summary of the case, the Judge stated that he “found serious failures of senior managers who ought to have recognised ongoing problems.”
He concluded that the company ‘fell well below the reasonably practicable test’ and it was ‘not just reasonably foreseeable but a nightmare waiting to happen.’
Failings included breaches of general and mandatory health and safety provisions and a systematic failure to provide a safe system of work.
Following the hearing, health and safety inspector for Milton Keynes Council, said: “We are very pleased with the result and fine imposed as it reiterates the importance of treating health & safety seriously.
“This accident was not just reasonably foreseeable it was, as a result of the company’s failings, virtually inevitable.”
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