March 2016 Newsletter
HSE to prosecute production co over Harrison Ford’s Star Wars leg break
The HSE has announced it will prosecute a film production company over an incident in which Hollywood actor Harrison Ford sustained injuries while filming Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens film at Pinewood Studies in London, in May 2014.
Foodles Production (UK) has been told that it will face charges under Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act of failing to protect its workers and others, Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations which requires dutyholders to carry out suitable and sufficient risk assessments, and Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations which requires equipment to be safe to use.
Ford, 73, suffered a broken leg and other injuries when he was struck by a heavy hydraulic metal door on the set of the Millennium Falcon. He sustained two fractures in his leg and a dislocated ankle and was airlifted to hospital. He was away from the production for two months.
Foodles Production will appear to hear the charges at High Wycombe Magistrates’ Court on 12 May.
Alton Towers owners to face prosecution
The owner of Alton Towers is to be prosecuted after a rollercoaster crash last year, which left five people seriously injured.
Victoria Balch and Leah Washington had their legs amputated after the crash on 2 June 2015, when the Smiler rollercoaster ride hit an empty carriage in front of it.
An investigation by the park found that staff misunderstood a shutdown message and wrongly restarted the ride.
Merlin Attractions Operation Ltd will appear at North Staffordshire Justice Centre on 22 April. It will face a charge under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Neil Craig, head of operations for the Health and Safety Executive in the Midlands, said: “This was a serious incident with life-changing consequences for five people.
“We have conducted a very thorough investigation and consider that there is sufficient evidence and that it is in the public interest to bring a prosecution.”
Didcot power station collapse: Operation ‘most challenging’ for fire chief
The chief fire officer working at a collapsed Didcot power station site said it was the “most technically challenging” operation he had seen. Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue chief Dave Etheridge said the Didcot site “reminds me of Chernobyl, the sheer extent of what we’re dealing with”. One person is known to have died in the collapse on Tuesday. But Mr Etheridge said it was “highly unlikely” three missing people would be found alive. The families of the three missing men visited the site on Wednesday.
The other half of the building is unstable, making the rescue mission challenging, the fire service said.
Mr Etheridge told BBC Radio Oxford: “I hope that they felt that was a way of understanding the enormity of the challenge that we are facing, but we won’t step back from that challenge.
“I have been in the fire service for 30 years and undoubtedly the incident we are facing at the moment is the most technically challenging incident I have ever come across.”
He said the area being searched was 55m (180ft) long, 30m (98ft) wide and 25m (82ft) high, and “unstable”.
Heavy engineering cranes and lifting equipment are needed and would arrive at the site on Thursday, said Oxfordshire County Council.
Thermal imaging cameras, drones with audio sensing equipment, sniffer dogs and military remote-controlled vehicles are already being used in the search.
Talk About Cases:
Worker crushed as steel falls from crane
A construction worker was crushed to death by falling steel on a major domestic home renovation job in Weybridge, Surrey yesterday.
The man is believed to have been killed when a crane lifting metal from the back of a lorry dropped its load.
A spokesman for Surrey Police said: “Officers attended Wey Meadows at around 1.30pm today following reports that a man had died after being trapped under metal construction materials.
“Police and other emergency services attended the location but the man was sadly declared dead at the scene.
“Officers are working with the Health and Safety Executive to establish the circumstances surrounding the death.”
The victim was working on the major renovation of a £2m domestic property.
Manufacturing company and director fined for safety failings
A manufacturing company based in Shrewsbury and its director have been fined after an empty 45 gallon steel drum once containing flammable liquid caught fire and exploded when being cut in half.
Shrewsbury Magistrates’ Court heard how an employee of SPEL Products had reported the incident, and indicated this particular method of work had been in operation for a significant period of time, and that previous incidents had occurred.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident immediately served a prohibition notice (PN) stopping the cutting of metal containers once containing highly flammable liquid or vapour with metal cutting angle grinders.
SPEL Products, of Lancaster Road, Shrewsbury, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 5(1), 6(1) and 9(1) of the Dangerous Substances and Explosives Atmospheres Regulations 2002, and was fined £13,666 and ordered to pay costs of £4,856.
Bryan Peacock (Director of SPEL), of Lancaster Road, Shrewsbury, was found guilty of breaching Regulation 6(1) of the Dangerous Substances and Explosives Atmospheres Regulations 2002, and was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,408.
The HSE inspector said after the hearing: “Carrying out this type of activity on this manner is a well-known risk and there has been many incidents resulting in serious injury and death.”
School fined after pupil paralysed in swing collapse
A Hertfordshire school has been fined for safety failings after a pupil suffered permanent paralysis when a swing collapsed.
St Albans Magistrates’ Court heard how in September 2011 a 13-year-old pupil at the school was playing on a wooden swing in an adventure playground, when the wooden cross beam of the swing fell onto the pupil’s head and neck causing spinal injuries that resulted in permanent paralysis.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the swing had collapsed because the supporting timbers had rotted.
Queenswood School, of Shepherd’s Way, Brookmans Park, Hatfield, was fined a total of £50,000, and ordered to pay £90,693 in costs after pleading guilty to an offence under Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
Speaking after the hearing the HSE inspector said: “This case shows how important it is that schools and other providers of play equipment maintain them in a safe condition. This tragic accident could have been avoided had the school implemented the findings of its own risk assessment.”
Fine after worker loses arm in “avoidable incident”
A Staffordshire farming firm has been sentenced for safety failings after a Polish worker had to have his arm amputated when it was caught in the rollers of a potato grading machine. The HSE said that the employer’s failings had led to a series of unsafe methods developing.
The worker, was trying to clean the rollers of the machine at Blakenhall Park, Barr Lane, Barton under Needwood, when the incident occurred on 12 November 2013.
The machinery had to be dismantled to enable his left arm to be released, but the crush injuries were so severe it later had to be amputated at the shoulder. He also suffered multiple bruises and scratches on his head, neck, right arm and back and had to have five stitches to the middle finger of his right hand.
Had the machinery been switched off and securely isolated before the cleaning work had started, the incident could have been avoided, the court heard.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an investigation into the incident and prosecuted his employer W B Daw & Son for safety failings.
Stafford Magistrates’ Court heard that the workers duties included operating, cleaning and clearing blockages on the machine, into which potatoes harvested from the field were fed to be cleaned and sorted.
He sat down underneath the rollers of the machine to clean them while they were moving using a long screwdriver, but the rollers drew his left arm into the machinery right up to his shoulder.
The investigation found that there were unsafe systems of work being used, which involved cleaning and clearing blockages from the rollers while they were still rotating under power.
On Monday 25 January 2016, W B Daw & Son, of Woodhouse Farm, Pipe Lane, Blithbury, Rugeley, Staffordshire, was fined a total of £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £25,000 after being found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulation 3(1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
After the case, the HSE Inspector said: “Incidents of this kind are all too common and generally have serious consequences. The onus is on employers to ensure that suitable and sufficient risk assessments are undertaken for work activities involving exposure to dangerous parts of machinery, and to make sure that robust safe systems of work are implemented to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery.
“This incident could have easily been avoided had the machine been switched off and securely isolated before cleaning work started. But W B Daw & Son had failed to give clear instructions to its employees and failed to monitor their activities, so a series of unsafe methods of cleaning the potato grader had developed.
“The employer’s failings led to this young man having his arm amputated and he and his family will now have to cope with those serious, life-changing injuries.”
Landlord fined for gas safety breaches
A private landlord was prosecuted today after failing to provide gas safety certificates for two rented properties.
Harrogate Magistrates’ Court heard that following a complaint from a tenant, an Improvement Notice (IN) was issued to landlord Dean Taylor by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for non-provision of a gas safety certificate for the gas appliances in his property.
Mr Taylor did not comply with that notice and during the investigation another of his properties was found to also not have a gas safety certificate.
Dean Taylor, of Gentian Glade, Harrogate, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 33 (1) (g) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, also Section 36(3) and Section 36(6) of the Gas Safety Installation and Use Regulations. He was given 240 hours of community service and instructed to pay full HSE costs of £2767 by Harrogate Magistrates’ Court.
After the hearing, the HSE inspector commented: “If you rent property out, you must comply with requirements of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations, including the need to have a gas safety certificate. Gas appliances should be regularly checked, as faulty appliances can kill.”
Electrician burned during 2012 Olympic Games prep
Charges have been brought against the world’s largest temporary power generation company after a worker sustained electrical burns while fitting out Earls Court Exhibition Centre ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games.
The incident happened at Earls Court Exhibition Centre ahead of the 2012 London Olympic Games.
The London venue was due to host a volleyball tournament and Aggreko was appointed as the main contractor to provide a temporary electricity supply. Various contractors were hired for the task, including self-employed electricians.
The work required electrical cables to be routed throughout the venue. At times, to thread the wires through small gaps, cable heads were removed but not always replaced. This meant the wiring was live and unprotected when the power supply was switched on.
A Custom Rigging Services employee, was installing a communications control centre in one of the conference rooms on 3 July 2012 when he was exposed to the live copper ends of an electrical cable. Westminster Magistrates’ Court was told Brown’s co-workers heard two loud bangs and saw a bright flash before he fell backward and collapsed. His left hand was burned and still cannot grip properly.
Aggreko pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Electricity at Work Regulations and was fined £36,000. It also agreed to pay the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s costs of £90,000.
The company is said to have acknowledged failings in its procedures and a lack of communication and supervision on site which, amongst other things, led to the injury. Aggreko has taken steps to prevent a similar occurrence.
College fined after tree felling injury
A college in Surrey has been fined after a student was struck on the leg by a tree as it was being felled.
Redhill Magistrates’ Court heard how the campus supervisor of Guildford College instructed an employee and part of the estates team, to take two work experience students to fell a tree.
While the tree was being cut two students arrived to observe the operation. The falling tree hit one of the students who was observing, causing fractures to one of his legs.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive into the incident, which occurred on 5 May 2015, found that there was insufficient training given to fell the tree competently. There was inadequate supervision and the risk assessments were not sufficient and had not been followed.
Guildford College of Further Education of Stoke Road, Guildford, Surrey, pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and were fined £70,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,461.
Charitable trust and contractor fined for asbestos safety failings
A charitable trust and a contractor it employed has been fined for safety failings after disturbing asbestos and continuing to work in a building.
The Williamson Trust is responsible for the running of a school academy where Mark Tucker was contracted to refurbish a building block.
Chatham Magistrates’ Court heard that in July 2012, knowing the trust had an asbestos register identifying where asbestos was located within the school, work was carried out by Mark Tucker to refurbish a building block without consulting the register.
However, the trust had failed to complete a refurbishment and demolition survey, and had failed to ensure that the contractors had the asbestos information they needed to carry out the work safely.
The Williamson Trust of Maidstone Road, Rochester, Kent pleaded guilty to Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and was fined £18,000 and ordered to pay costs of £17,000.
Mark Tucker of Maidstone Road, Chatham, Kent pleaded guilty to Regulation 13(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, and was fined £9000 and ordered to pay costs of £8000.
Housing Association Prosecution Over Fatal Lewisham Fire is a “Wake-Up Call” for Residential Building Owners
A south-east London housing association has been fined £40,000 for their role in the deaths of two tower-block residents in a 2011 fire.
Additional costs of £23,407 were also levied by Woolwich Crown Court after the Lewisham Homes pleaded guilty to failing to properly maintain fire doors and keep their Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RSO) risk assessment under review.
More than 100 firefighters were called to a fire in the Marine Tower in Deptford, south-east London in February 2011. The blaze, which was started deliberately in a 16th floor flat in February 2011, spread quickly to the communal areas of the Deptford tower block and into a neighbouring flat, where two women died.
The London Fire and Rescue Service, which brought the prosecution, found the fire door in the flat where the fire started had been prevented from closing by a metal security door fitted immediately in front, accelerating the spread of smoke to the lobby.
The presiding judge said the prosecution should serve as a “wake-up call” to other individuals and companies responsible for fire-safety in residential buildings. Had the defendant not been a not-for-profit organisation the fine would have been “considerably” higher, the judge added.
Sandra Clarke, the tenant in the flat where the blaze began, was convicted on two counts of manslaughter in 2012 after being found guilty of deliberately starting the fire.
Speaking after sentencing Neil Orbell, LFB’s assistant commission for fire safety, said the fire was a “stark reminder of the potentially lethal consequences” of neglecting fire safety. “I absolutely agree with the judge,” he added.
“This prosecution should act as a ‘wake-up call’ and send an urgent message to all housing providers to ensure the fire safety features in their buildings are properly maintained.
“If they are not, housing providers, managers, landlords and building owners should all be warned that we will not hesitate to prosecute if we find they are putting people’s lives at risk.”
A spokesman for Lewisham Homes said: “In 2011 the actions of a tenant led to the deaths of two people and her subsequent conviction, a tragedy that that touched us all and we deeply regret.
“We accept our failings under the fire safety regulations and take residents safety very seriously. We have been determined to learn lessons and invested heavily year on year to continually improve fire safety, and have made significant progress over the past five years.”
Ian Makins, chairman of ASDMA (the Architectural and Specialist Door Manufacturers Association), says the case highlights the importance of properly maintained fire doors.
“Fire doors offer vital protection and can make a real difference to the impact of a fire,” he says. “Sadly when lives are lost due to poorly maintained fire doors it should serve as a timely reminder for landlords and residents to check their fire doors are fit for purpose.
“Door repair, maintenance and replacement should be carried out by a knowledgeable specialist who has the necessary expertise.”
ASDMA has produced a ‘Best Practice Guide to Timber Fire Doors’ for anyone involved in the specification, procurement, installation, use and maintenance of timber fire doors. The guide, which considers all the issues required to satisfy UK Building Regulations.
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