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Network Rail fined £200,000 after level crossing injury 13/12/2018

NETWORK RAIL has been ordered to pay £286,000 in fines and costs following an incident at a level crossing, where a signaller was struck by the crossing gate.

Sentence was passed by HHJ Statman sitting at Maidstone Crown Court where Network Rail was found guilty on 11 May, following a trial which lasted 14 days.

The court had heard that signaller Douglas Caddell, 65, had suffered life-changing injuries after being struck by a level crossing gate, which had been hit by a car, as he tried to close the gate at East Farleigh Station in Kent on 24 April 2015.

The Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR) investigation into the incident revealed that Network Rail’s risk assessment was inadequate and that, despite the foreseeable risk of a driver failing to see that the gates were being closed, Network Rail had done little to protect its employees.

Network Rail was fined £200,000 for an offence under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and section 33 (1)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act. The jury failed to reach a verdict on a second count under the Health and Safety at work Act section 2(1)(a) and 33(1)(a) 1974. It was also ordered to pay £86,000 in costs.

Ian Prosser, HM Chief Inspector of Railways, said: “Mr Caddell suffered life-changing injuries in this incident and the sentence indicates just how seriously the offence is quite rightly viewed.

“We are absolutely committed to protecting the health and safety of passengers and railway staff and will not hesitate to take enforcement action or to prosecute when necessary.

“Network Rail has introduced safety measures at East Farleigh and we would expect to see proper risk assessments made at similar level crossings up and down the country and necessary safety measures taken.”

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Care home admits fire safety breaches 12/12/2018

A COMPANY that runs a residential care home in Cheshire has been fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £13,626 in costs after admitting serious breaches of fire safety regulations.

Lavender House Residential Home Ltd pleaded guilty to eight breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 at its home for elderly residents and dementia sufferers on Audley Road in Alsager.

Sentencing took place at a crown court on Monday 10 December after a fire safety audit was completed at the residential care home on 1 August 2016.

Conducted by members of Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service’s protection team, the audit revealed deficiencies that put the vulnerable residents, visitors and staff members at risk of death or serious injury in the event of a fire.

They included substantial breaches of compartmentation between the ground floor and the first floor where the residents slept, including areas where ceilings had been torn away and left floorboards above exposed, unprotected pipe penetrations through walls and floors and the underside of a staircase being exposed and not protected from fire.

Concerned that a fire could easily and quickly spread throughout the building, the team issued Lavender House Residential Home Ltd with a prohibition notice, an enforcement notice and began a prosecution case.

The prohibition notice, which banned parts of the premises from being used, was lifted within a week after the company commissioned work to be carried out to rectify the most serious safety flaws.

The enforcement notice was lifted later in November 2016 after other required fire safety measures were implemented.

During sentencing at Chester Crown Court, the judge noted that the company had remedied the substantial breaches but also acknowledged that it took Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service’s intervention for action to be taken.

Judge Berkson said that before August 2016 the company had paid little attention to fire safety and that this matter of great importance was low down on its list of priorities.

The residential care home in Alsager provides accommodation for people over the age of 65 who require nursing, personal or dementia care.

Lee Shears, Head of Protection and Organisational Performance at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS), added: “The safety of people living, visiting and working in all premises such as this is of paramount importance.

“Establishments where people sleep and may need assistance to get out in the event of a fire are especially significant and fire safety must be treated as a priority.

“In the case of Lavender House Residential Home Ltd, a lack of fire safety precautions were putting the lives of elderly and vulnerable residents at risk.

“Large sections of ceilings had been torn away and there was extensive damage to walls and ceilings throughout the building. As a result fire and toxic smoke would have been able to spread rapidly through the building and into bedrooms.

“Staircases were not protected from fire, residents were expected to use a rope ladder as an escape route from the upper floors and there were also significant issues in relation to inadequate fire alarms, evacuation procedures and fire risk assessments.

“We immediately took action against the company to remedy the unacceptable safety flaws that were uncovered during a fire safety audit.

“The company carried out the necessary work and implemented the necessary procedures in a brisk fashion to the benefit of its residents, staff and visitors and it has now been fined for the fire safety breaches that were identified and rectified in 2016.”

CFRS aims to help and support any business to operate safely. However action will be taken when companies choose not to treat fire safety as a legitimate and important business requirement.

All companies are urged to take their fire safety obligations seriously to avoid prosecution.

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Company fined after workers exposed to flour dust 12/12/2018

A BAKERY company was fined for safety breaches after employees suffered long term exposure to flour dust, a respiratory sensitiser.

Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard that between April 2002 and April 2016 employees were consistently exposed to risks to their health, with some being medically diagnosed as suffering from occupational asthma.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found there was no effective method of control to prevent the dust becoming airborne and employees being exposed to breathing in the dust.

Coopland & Son (Scarborough) Ltd. of Caxton Way, Pindar Business Park, Eastfield, Scarborough pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and has been fined £159,080 and ordered to pay £4,594 in costs  

After the hearing, HSE inspector Geoff Fletcher commented, “Exposure to flour dust in an industrial setting can cause serious and debilitating health effects.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards”

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Two companies fined after worker is crushed 12/12/2018

TWO COMPANIES have been sentenced after a structural engineer received serious crush injuries when a bundle of scaffold tubes weighing about one tonne rolled onto his legs while he was visiting a client’s construction site.

Southwark Crown Court heard how, on 15 September 2015, the engineer, accompanied by two managers at the site in London, approached four bundles of scaffold tube stored on the ground (one of the bundles had been stacked on top of the other three) which had been left unattended. The top bundle was disturbed, rolled off and fell onto the engineer’s lower legs. It took several attempts to free him from under the bundle. The engineer suffered fractures to both ankles and a number of fractures on his right leg.

The scaffold bundles were delivered earlier that day and belonged to scaffolding firm PHD Modular Access Services Ltd. St George City Ltd was the Principal Contractor for the site, where demolition activities were taking place within a very confined footprint.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that PHD failed to ensure that control measures specified in the company’s risk assessment - material storage area to be fully segregated using physical barriers - were in place to prevent access by unauthorised persons.

St George City had signed off on PHD’s storage requirements and should have been conscious of the practical difficulties concerning deliveries and storage due to the confined nature of the site. On the day of the incident, St George site management had become aware that the scaffold materials had not been segregated, however, no action was taken.

PHD Modular Access Services Ltd, of Oxford Road, Denham, Uxbridge pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 15 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, and has been fined £50,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,777.99.

St George City Limited, which is part of the Berkeley Group, of Berkeley House, Portsmouth Road, Cobham, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and has been fined £130,000 and ordered to pay costs of 7830.79.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Gabriella Dimitrov said, “The contractors knew that it was a congested site with large demolition machines tracking around and as such required careful planning with regards to material arrivals and storage. This incident could have been easily prevented had suitable barriers been provided.”

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Foreword - December 2018 11/12/2018

Welcome to the December issue of HSM, which focuses on outdoor protection, electrical safety and confined spaces.

WE HAVE reached the final issue of the year, and it has been an exciting one for HSM. We have really shaken things up on the editorial front, and have seen lots of fantastic content, providing health and safety professionals with up-to-date information and advice. On top of our regular columns – which you may have noticed we have more of – we have been giving you lots of news, dedicated pages on prosecutions and longer, more technical articles in our features.

We introduced webinars this year, and these highly-topical presentations have given our listeners a chance to interact with us. These have always been very focused, and we have enjoyed providing you with this additional source of information. These have been free for listeners, and many have enjoyed listening to these on demand.

But we are not resting on our laurels and as we look ahead to 2019 there are plenty of things to look forward to. Event wise, we kick things off with The Health and Safety Event in NEC Birmingham (9-11 April 2019). Later in the year we look forward to Health Safety North at EventCity, Manchester (8-9 October 2019), and both of these growing events provide visitors with exceptional seminars and lots of companies from all strands of the industry. You can find out more about the shows at www.healthandsafetyevents.co.uk/event.

But there is also even greater change that has just happened with our parent company Western Business Exhibitions being recently acquired by Nineteen Group. You can see more information about this in our news pages but it’s a really exciting time for us as a magazine and as a business. It will see increased investment in the business, which will see our content reaching a much wider audience.

Celebrating success

The Health Excellence Awards take place on 10 April 2019 at the Vox, Resorts World in Birmingham and it is not too late to enter. Last year, the black-tie evening was attended by more than 420 people. Categories include Health and Safety Manager of the Year, H&S Team of the Year, Unsung Hero, Fire Innovation of the Year, Security Innovation of the Year, Campaign of the Year, Best H&S in Construction, Rising Star, Best H&S in Manufacturing and Best H&S Project. The BSIF Awards will also be a key part of the evening.

They are free to enter and will only take a few minutes of your time. They are the perfect way to gain recognition for your staff, team or company for raising the bar for safety standards, and nominations can be made on www.she-awards.co.uk.

The event will be hosted by comedian Sean Lock and guests will enjoy a drinks reception, three course meal, live band and entertainment, comedy from Sean Lock and the awards presentation itself. Tickets cost £199+VAT per person or £1,800+VAT for a table of ten. You can book your tickets at www.she-awards.co.uk.

I’d also like to take the opportunity to wish BSIF general manager Frank Angear all the best in his retirement. I’ve not known Frank very long but have enjoyed working with him. All the team here speak very glowingly about how supportive he’s been and what a great contribution he’s made to the industry. You can read an interview with Frank in this issue and he will be sorely missed.

Merry Christmas 

We will continue to update the website with all the industry news and prosecutions right up to the Christmas break and then straight after the new year, so while this might be the last issue of 2018, we will continue to keep you informed, so keep checking www.hsmsearch.com.

We hope you enjoy the issue, and from myself and the team I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year.

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Recognising unsung heroes 10/12/2018

YOU CAN now get members of your team recognised for their outstanding contributions to health and safety by entering a raft of new categories in the Safety and Health Excellence Awards.

The new categories include unsung hero (perfect for any member of your team that had made a real difference to health and safety or fire safety, best health and safety in construction, best health and safety project and best health and safety in manufacturing. It’s completely FREE to enter these categories, which form a core part of the Safety & Health Excellence Awards that promote the importance of innovation and underline the highest standards of excellence within occupational safety and health. The ceremony will be held at the prestigious VOX Conference Centre on 10 April 2019 at the NEC, Birmingham and will be hosted by comedian Sean Lock.

The 2018 Awards attracted over 150 entries and next year’s awards now offers four brand new categories, which include The Alan McArthur Unsung Hero Award, Best Health and Safety in Manufacturing, Best Health and Safety in Construction and Best Health and Safety Project.

The complete category list is as follows:

Innovation of the Year for Fire
Innovation of the Year for Security
Campaign of the Year (Fire, Security or Health and Safety)
HSM Health and Safety Manager of the Year – Sponsored by Alcumus
Health and Safety Team of the Year – Sponsored by NEBOSH
Alan McArthur Unsung Hero Award – Sponsored by 3M
Best Health and Safety Project – Sponsored by Arco
Best Health and Safety in Construction – Sponsored by Turner and Townsend 
Lifetime Achievement Award – Sponsored by Southalls
Best Health and Safety in Manufacturing 
HSM Rising Star Award

The deadline for entries is 31 January 2019 so make sure you don’t miss out and you submit your entry now.

You can enter any of these categories for FREE by visiting www.she-awards.co.uk

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Social club prosecuted after ladder fall 06/12/2018

THE LIMITED company that operates Lea Hall Social Club in Rugeley has been prosecuted after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, having allowed one of its members to use an unsafe ladder.

At Cannock Magistrates Court today, District Judge Strongman fined Lea Hall Social Club Limited £20,000 and ordered the company to pay costs of £17,000.

The Court heard how, on 29 November 2015, club member and unpaid volunteer Roger Ingley had been putting away Christmas decorations when the loft ladder he was using gave way, causing him to fall approximately two metres onto some stairs.

Following the incident Mr Ingley was rushed to hospital. He has since undergone several operations, but has been left with life changing injuries and has been unable to return to his former employment as a civil engineer.

Cannock Chase Council’s health and safety inspector Emily MacKinnon, who investigated the incident in December 2015, found a loft ladder in a poor state of repair.  Had some simple ladder safety checks and low cost maintenance been carried out by the club, this unfortunate incident may never have happened.

Mrs MacKinnon observed that the ladder was poorly maintained and was not regularly checked to ensure it remained safe. The club had not followed its own risk assessments and there was a lack of information and training on safe working at height. There was no one appointed at the club with responsibility for health and safety, while management at the club had undergone several changes prior to the incident.

Following the incident the council has been working with the club’s management to ensure that they have adequate risk assessments, suitable training and appropriate maintenance checks in place to improve overall health and safety at the club.

The council’s head of economic prosperity, Dean Piper, who has responsibility for Environmental Health, said of the case, “We recognise that social clubs play a valuable role in the community by providing entertainment and charitable activities, but that sometimes there is a lack of expertise in health and safety among those that manage and oversee these community assets.

“It can be difficult to know where to start but with the right help, which as the local authority we are able to provide, we can help ensure that everyone goes home safe.”

Dean added, “The council wants to encourage social clubs, volunteers and community groups to be proactive about health and safety particularly at this time of year when many will be getting ladders out to hang decorations or to do routine maintenance.

“For ladders we strongly urge everyone to check they are in good condition before use, checking features like the feet, rungs, stiles, locking mechanisms, and any platforms and treads”.

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Chainsaw accident due to inadequate training 06/12/2018

A FATHER of two had his left arm almost hacked off with a chainsaw after his employer failed to provide adequate training.

Karl Spafford, from Southport, suffered life changing injuries in February 2014 when he was working as a tree surgeon. After years of suffering physical and mental pain, he has now received a six-figure pay-out.

The 35-year-old was positioned 30 feet up a tree in Preston, using one hand to hold a branch and the other to use a chainsaw. When he went to cut the branch, the chainsaw kicked back and cut into his forearm leaving him with a severe gash. 

He was rushed to Royal Preston Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.

He has now been left with permanent pins and needles in his forearm and chronic neuropathic pain, along with significant scarring and a reduction in grip strength.

Tree surgery was Karl’s dream career and he had done it since he was 17; travelling all over the world learning new skills and showcasing his talent. Since the accident he has had to come to terms with the fact that he is unable to return to the line of work that he enjoyed so much.

Following a four-year legal battle by leading personal injury firm, Fletchers Solicitors, it was found that Karl’s former employer had not provided him with adequate training. Refresher training should have been provided to remind employees of the importance of using two hands while operating a chainsaw. 

Karl said, “Tree surgery was all that I knew, and I loved it; I lived and breathed my job. I was known for being able to go further and higher than other people. I knew there were risks associated with the work, but I didn’t think anything would happen to me.

“Had I been trained more, it would have been drilled into me to use two hands when operating dangerous machinery like a chainsaw. I really just want to speak out to try and stop this from happening to anyone else. I wish I could go straight back into my career as a tree surgeon, but that’s not possible so I’ve had to start rebuilding my life.”

The settlement that Karl was awarded means that he can now focus on starting afresh with his family after years of physical and emotional pain. 

In the months immediately after the accident, Karl was unable to work because of his injuries. He was also having counselling for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to deal with the flashbacks and anxiety he was suffering with. During this period of unemployment, his family had to move out of their home as they were unable to maintain the monthly rent payments.

Karl’s wife, Christa, had to postpone her degree so she could work and not being able to provide for his family had a massive impact on Karl.

Once Karl was well enough to start looking for work again, he found that he was unemployable because of the medication he was taking for the pain. 

It took Karl six months to come off the painkillers but he knew that in order to work again, he would have to handle the pain and stop the medication.

In November 2016, Karl found work as a children’s support worker which is a role that he is enjoying.

He added: “I have had to come to terms with my injuries and the fact I’ll never be a tree surgeon again. I now have a job that I really enjoy but it is a total change of career for me. It was incredibly daunting at first but it brings me a lot of satisfaction now.”

Karl, Christa and their two young children are now looking forward to a fresh start in a new house, putting the turmoil of the last few years behind them. Karl continued, “The money will mean that we can recover from the last few years when I haven’t been able to work, and we can get our own house which is really important to us as a family to have that security after such a tough time.

“The support I received from Fletchers has been incredible. They have been so patient and explained everything at every stage and helped me so much through such a hard time. They built a really strong relationship with me and we were really treated as individuals, not just a case. I can’t thank them enough because they have worked so hard for me and my family.”

Head of multi track personal injury at Fletchers Solicitors, who worked on the case, Jen Nolan said, “Karl and his family have been through so much in the last few years and it was preventable if adequate training had been provided. Karl will have the scarring and pain for the rest of his life as well as losing the career he loved.

“We hope that the settlement will help Karl and his family to enjoy some time together after years of upset and also provide some security for them after being out of work for so long. We wish Mr Spafford and his family all the best for the future.”

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Wilko adopt Dying to Work charter 06/12/2018

CAMPAIGN LED by GMB members sees company adopt charter expected to protect 20,000 staff members with a terminal illness.

GMB, the union for Wilko staff, praised the company after it adopted a guidelines expected to protect 20,000 staff members with a terminal illness. 

Wilko has now formally signed the ‘Dying to Work’ charter’ at its stores across the UK following a campaign led by GMB members.

The charter which was inspired by the trauma of a woman forced out of her job shortly after learning she had terminal cancer has inspired Wilko to help staff who become terminally ill at work. 

Jacci Woodcook is a GMB member who was forced out of her job as sales manager after being diagnosed with fatal breast cancer. 

But her shocking experience helped push the TUC’s Dying to Work campaign, which seeks greater security for terminally ill workers through a ‘protected period’ where they cannot be dismissed as a result of their condition. 

The voluntary charter sets out how an employer can support an employee with a terminal illness, by treating them with respect and dignity. By signing, the charter signatory commits to protect the death in service benefits of the employee so they have a greater financial reassurance for the loved ones they leave behind. [1] 

The campaign was spearheaded by GMB activist Paul McGuire, who approached Wilko’s management back in May, and is expected to benefit around 19,995 Staff members. Earlier this month Kate Price, Wilko Groups HR Director and Heath Twist, their Head of Logistics signed the Charter at GMB’s Regional HQ in Cardiff. 

GMB convenor for Wilko Paul McGuire said, “I would like to thank Wilko for recognising and supporting such a great campaign that reinforces its commitment to the protection of team members battling terminal illness across the business. 

“The signing of the charter reassures our membership of their right to dignity whilst alleviating the fear of unnecessary upset and leaving their families facing financial hardship.” 

GMB Wales & South West lead officer for Wilko Nicola Savage said, "The Dying to Work Charter is important for the future of our members working within Wilko who have had a terminal diagnosis. 

“Wilko employs over 19,000 staff across their portfolio and the aims of the Charter are to provide a safe and supportive workplace where individuals can make choices, and have adequate employment protection for themselves and their families.

“I am delighted that Wilko are supporting this initiative and look forward to working with Wilko and our team of GMB Representatives to help them achieve their goals" 

[1] TUC’s Dying to Work campaign - https://www.tuc.org.uk/midlands/dying-work-campaign

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Patient fatally injured on minibus journey 06/12/2018

A HEALTHCARE company has been fined after a vulnerable patient suffered fatal injuries during a minibus journey.

Nottingham Crown Court heard how, on 16 March 2014, a vulnerable patient was fatally injured when returning from an out of hours GP appointment at Nottingham Emergency Medical Centre in a minibus. Samantha Barton died after opening a door and leaping from a minibus which was travelling at speed on the A52, just outside of Nottingham.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Elysium Healthcare (Farndon) Limited failed to have systems and procedures in place, including risk assessments, information, instruction and training which would have made sure the minibus doors were appropriately secured by the (fitted) child locks, so that passengers could not leave the vehicle until staff opened the doors from the outside.

Elysium Healthcare (Farndon) Limited, of Imperial Place, Maxwell Road, Borehamwood, previously pleaded guilty at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act and has today been fined £500,000 and ordered to pay costs of £67,500.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Paul Smith said: “This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of this healthcare company to uphold its responsibilities to vulnerable patients by implementing simple control measures and associated safe working practices.”

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