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Widow wants justice for asbestos death 16/08/2018

THE WIDOW of a Newcastle man who was diagnosed with asbestos-related disease before his death has joined with legal experts at Irwin Mitchell to appeal to her husband’s former workmates to come forward and help her gain justice regarding his illness.

Neil Roythorne, 57, from Camperdown, was admitted to hospital in late 2016 after developing symptoms of pancreatitis. Subsequent tests performed confirmed that he had developed both a pleural effusion and pleural thickening thought to have been caused by asbestos exposure.

In February this year, Neil passed away of non-asbestos related conditions at Freeman Hospital.

Before his death, Neil called on specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help him gain answers regarding how he came into contact with the deadly material and whether more could have been done to protect him from the risk of exposure.

With their investigations continuing and his wife Susan, 53, continuing the legal action, the legal team at Irwin Mitchell are keen to hear from anyone who worked with Neil during his time at JT Roofing Company Ltd in the late 1970s and early 1980s and could shed light on the presence of asbestos during a range of projects.

Roger Maddocks, a partner who heads the asbestos-related disease team in Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office, said, “This is yet another terrible example of the huge impact that asbestos exposure can have on a person’s health, often many years after the initial exposure to the material is thought to have occurred. 

“Following our instruction from Neil, he informed us of his time at JT Roofing Company and we are keen to learn more about the working conditions he is thought to have faced during his employment with the firm. 

“As such, we would be keen to hear from anyone who not only worked with Neil but could also provide details of the presence of asbestos. Any information could prove absolutely vital to his battle for justice.”

Neil, who leaves two daughters and a step-son, started working for JT Roofing Company Ltd when he was just 19 and was employed between 1979 and 1984.

His wife Susan said: “Before his death, Neil and I spoke about his old working environments. He told me that a lot of his work involved covering existing roofs with a hessian and cold tar product. Most of the time the roofs tended to be corrugated asbestos sheeting and, as they needed to be swept before the product was applied, a lot of dust was generated.

“He was also present when a lot of repairs were carried out and that could have a similar effect. What was really hard to hear was that he was never given any protective equipment during his time there.

“His diagnosis shocked all the family and we are just desperate for answers as to whether more should have been done to prevent his illness and protect him. We sadly couldn’t get justice for Neil while he was alive but we are determined to get it now.

“We would be hugely grateful to anyone who can help us with our legal fight.”

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Company fined after worker loses arm 16/08/2018

TRANSPORTATION AND storage company, H Walton Ltd, was sentenced for safety breaches after a worker suffered injuries leading to the loss of his left arm.

Leeds Magistrates’ court heard how, on 9 August 2017, a lorry driver was delivering wheat to Low Newstead Farm in Ripon when it tipped onto the floor of a shed through the open rear door of the trailer. Whilst walking to the rear of the trailer, the driver lost his footing in a heap of grain, which was formed by the load being discharged, and put his hand out to steady himself; his left arm came into contact with a rotating auger and was drawn in.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that a crucial interlocking device was not functioning at the time of the incident, allowing the auger to run when the tailgate was open. It also found that the emergency stop device for the discharge mechanism failed to function, as it was operated through the same circuitry.

H Walton Ltd of Old Goole Mill, South Park Road, Goole, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11 (3)(C) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and has been fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £531.40 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Julian Franklin said, “The driver’s injuries are life changing. The trailer was fitted with a safety system to prevent exactly this type of incident; it could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out regular checks to ensure safety devices and systems remain working. This is something that many hauliers already do as part of their vehicle checks.”

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Cycling to work benefits employers and employees 15/08/2018

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY such as cycling to work brings huge benefits for both employees and employers, the chartered body for safety and health professionals said on Cycle to Work Day.

Across the UK, thousands of workers were arriving at work on their bikes on 15 August, as part of the annual Cycle to Work Day.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) is encouraging them to ensure it is not a one-off, and to cycle to work on a regular basis. Doing so can help them to be more healthy, boost their wellbeing and, as a result, be more productive.

Head of health and safety at IOSH Ruth Wilkinson said, “Cycle to Work Day is a great initiative as it really highlights the benefits of physical activity for everyone. 

“As well as the clear health benefits, physical activity, such as riding a bike, releases endorphins which help people feel good about themselves. So there are clear wellbeing benefits as well. Why wouldn’t you want that feelgood factor to start the day? 

“This leads to increased productivity, so there are some real benefits for organisations as well as individuals. What organisation wouldn’t want healthy, motivated and productive staff. 

“And there is of course the added benefit of helping the environment.

“We encourage people to not only cycle to work on this one particular day, but as regularly as possible. If you are able to, leave your car at home or forget about public transport and get on your bike.”

Ruth added: “In addition to cycling to work, there are many more ways that organisations can encourage activities which promote health and wellbeing and bring about real business benefits.” 

Cycle to Work Day is organised by a partnership of Cycle Scheme, Cannondale and Specialized.

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Workers exposed to Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome 15/08/2018

NORDAM EUROPE Limited have been fined after workers were exposed to Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS).

Cardiff Crown Court heard how around 100 employees of the company, which maintains and repairs aircraft components, were exposed to Hand Arm Vibration (HAV) and developed Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) over 22 years. At least 30 employees were exposed to risk of significant harm.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that employees used a range of hand-held vibrating tools including orbital sanders, rivet guns, grinders and drills. The company should have carried out a suitable assessment of work activities which exposed employees to vibration and should have implemented additional controls to reduce exposure so far as was reasonably practicable.

The investigation found that the company failed in their duty to implement a safe system of work in order to control exposure to vibration. In addition, employees should have undergone suitable health surveillance to identify symptoms at an early stage of the disease. This would have prevented it from progressing to a disabling condition.

Nordam Europe Limited of Hawtin Park, Blackwood, Gwent pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and has been fined £400,000 and ordered to pay costs of £39,620.92.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Janet Hensey said: “This was a case of the company completely failing to grasp the importance of HAVS health surveillance.

“If they had understood why health surveillance was necessary, it would have ensured that it had the right systems in place to monitor worker’s health and the employee’s condition would not have been allowed to develop to a severe and life altering stage”.

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Plymouth landlord puts lives at risk 15/08/2018

A LANDLORD from Plymouth has been sentenced after gas appliances at his rental property in Plymouth were found to be ‘Immediately Dangerous’.

Plymouth Crown Court heard how the gas appliances in the property on Laira Street were worked on by someone who was not registered with the Gas Safe Register.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Lokendra Khadka had failed to ever have gas appliances checked for safety at his rental property. Further, he had arranged for a person to make alterations to a gas boiler flue and that person had left it in an extremely dangerous state.

Mr Khadka was unable to provide any details to HSE or to Plymouth Crown Court on who did this work on the gas boiler flue for him.

Lokendra Kumar Khadka of Albert Road, Plymouth, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 36 (3)(a) and 36(4) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. He has been sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, suspended for 24 months and ordered to pay costs of £4,904.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Simon Jones said, “Mr Khadka put his tenants and their children at a very real risk of death from the gas work he arranged at his rental property, done by someone who was not competent to do it safely.

“Landlords must ensure they only use Gas Safe Register installers to work on gas appliances at their tenanted properties.

“Further, landlord’s must ensure that gas appliances at their tenanted properties are checked for safety at least every 12 months.”

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East Z East fined for faulty equipment 14/08/2018

EAST Z East have been ordered to pay a total of £43,919.50 for faulty equipment in their kitchen, including a gas leak, which put their employees at risk.

Health and Safety inspectors from Preston City Council visited the business on the 27th October 2016 to discover the gas powered equipment wasn’t being maintained to the correct standard. They found a serious leak on the gas hose junction of the hot plate, which was wrapped in tin foil, suggesting this had already been detected by employees. 

The Tandoori oven ignition was also broken and it was revealed the staff were dropping a burning napkin into the oven in order to light it instead. The company was also unable to prove any gas safety certificates to show their equipment was regularly maintained.

Inspectors served Prohibition Notices on the business, which prevented them from using the equipment until it had been deemed safe by a Gas Safe Engineer.

The Magistrates described themselves as speechless to discover that this restaurant in the middle of Preston, with residents above the premises, continued to operate with a known gas leak and a severely dangerous way of lighting the tandoor oven. 

Senior environmental health officer at Preston City Council Jonathan Cruickshank said, “It is a legal requirement for all businesses to ensure their gas equipment is maintained by a gas safe engineer. This usually involves an annual inspection and businesses will be issued with a certificate. If a business suspects that there is a gas leak from their gas equipment they should isolate the equipment from the gas supply and call a gas safe engineer. If a business cannot find or stop a gas leak they should evacuate the premises, turn off the main gas supply (if it is safe to do so) and call the National Grid gas emergency number 0800 111 999”

Deputy leader and cabinet member for Planning and Regulations councillor Peter Moss said, “The public is kept safe through the continuous good work of Preston City Council Environmental Health officers with local businesses. Most businesses in Preston are run to a very high standard and so much of our work does not end in prosecution. However we will not hesitate to take action against those who act illegally.”

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Taxi drivers get life-saving training 14/08/2018

LONDON AMBULANCE Service is training taxi drivers to help save the lives of cardiac arrest patients in the capital.

Paramedics have taught cabbies to perform cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and fitted their black cabs with defibrillators as part of a six-month pilot scheme in partnership with the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA). 

Chief executive Garrett Emmerson said, “London Ambulance Service has set up this scheme with the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association as part of our ongoing work to increase CPR training and the number of defibrillators in the community to help save even more lives.

“More than half the patients who are defibrillated by members of the public before the arrival of ambulance crews survive to be discharged from hospital. While we get to patients reported to be in cardiac arrest in an average of less than six minutes, it’s those vital first few minutes that can make the difference between life and death.”

The LTDA approached London Ambulance Service to explore how its cabbies – who were keen to help – could be trained to save lives before the arrival of medics. As a result a pilot scheme was set up where cabbies volunteered to receive training in lifesaving skills from London Ambulance Service.

Participating London taxi drivers have also installed the GoodSAM app on their mobile phones. When a 999 call is made for a cardiac arrest patient, an ambulance is dispatched immediately. At the same time, these taxi drivers – and other registered first aiders – are alerted by the GoodSAM app if they are close to the patient.

Although London already has one of the best cardiac arrest survival rates in the world, when a person goes into cardiac arrest, every minute they wait for life saving medical attention decreases their chances of survival by about 10 per cent. The quick response of members of the public such as taxi drivers will help improve survival rates.

Cabbie Shaun O’Meara, a former paramedic, said: “The training we have received has been excellent. All the drivers are confident and excited to be part of this innovative scheme. Most of us will have come across someone who is very ill – we just want to be able to help.” 

Half of the 30 drivers taking part in the pilot scheme are carrying defibrillators, while the other half are relying on the GoodSAM app telling them where the nearest public access defibrillator is located. 

General secretary of the LTDA Steve McNamara said, “We are proud to have teamed up with London Ambulance Service to train black cab drivers to respond to GoodSAM alerts.

“Cabbies already go the extra mile to help look after Londoners, but this life-saving training is already making a big difference, giving them the confidence, skills and equipment they need to act in a medical emergency.”

Deputy Mayor for Transport, Heidi Alexander, said: “London’s black cabs already provide a unique service for residents and visitors all across our city.

This innovative new partnership with London Ambulance Service could make a difference by literally saving lives. For victims of cardiac arrest, every second can make a difference, and I’m delighted that London cabbies are using the latest technology to play their part supporting the vital work of London Ambulance Service.”

The pilot is due to end in October, when a decision will be made whether to roll out the scheme.

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Firm fined after horrific foot injury 14/08/2018

A FIRM has been fined more than £32,000 after a worker suffered a serious foot injury while working in a Shaw warehouse.

On April 28 last year employees of Logistex Limited were carrying out refurbishment work of the Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) at the Shop Direct Distribution Centre.

The work involved replacing sensors on the lift part of the equipment, which weighed approximately 800kg.

The workers had activated the emergency stop circuit and presumed this would prevent the machine operating while the work was carried out.

However, power to the control panel was switched on.

An employee was replacing the sensors when the lift unexpectedly dropped, trapping his foot between the lift and the frame of the truck on which he was standing.

The emergency services were called and the fire and rescue service had to release him from under the lift. 

The man’s injuries were so severe that his second and third toes had to be cut back to the knuckle and his other three required explorative surgery.

An investigation by Oldham Council found that the refurbishment work had been poorly planned and inadequately risk assessed, this included work being carried out on the equipment when it had power.

The local authority prosecuted the Northamptonshire-based firm under Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and Regulation 3(1) (a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

On Wednesday, July 27 the company pleaded guilty to two charges at Tameside Magistrates’ Court.

It was fined £12,000 for each offence plus £8,705.40 costs. There was also a victim surcharge of £170.

Cabinet member for Neighbourhood Services councillor Arooj Shah said, “This was an extremely serious incident that left the employee involved seriously injured.

“This case highlights the need for businesses to ensure that they provide a safe environment for their workers and that all possible steps are taken to make sure this happens.

“We’ll take action against any company that causes accidents and injury through such negligence.”

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High court ruling in British Coal cases 13/08/2018

JUDGEMENT HAS been handed down in a group action brought on behalf of around 260 British Coal coke oven workers and their families.

It was alleged that workers contracted respiratory diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis and lung cancer, as well as skin cancer, as a result of exposure to harmful fumes at coking plants in England and Wales.

British Coal admitted a breach of duty by failing to protect its employees from exposure to dust and fumes present at the coking plants. Eight test cases were chosen out of the cohort of cases to proceed to trial in order to assist in determining the remaining issues between the parties. The lead cases have been resolved. Following negotiation and resolution of the lead cases, four of which settled before the trial, in what was a welcome approach commented upon by the court, the judge was required to determine two remaining test cases at trial.

The trial took place at the Royal Courts of Justice in London from 2 – 9 July 2018 before Mr Justice Turner.

In both cases, it was alleged that the coke oven worker suffered from chronic bronchitis as a result of his coke oven employment.

The judge found that there was sufficient evidence to prove that the worker suffered from chronic bronchitis in one of the remaining two test cases. The successful claim concerned a deceased worker who was employed on the coke ovens at Nantgarw coke works between the 1960s and 1980s. The widow of the deceased worker was awarded £15,853 in damages. 

In the second case, the judge was unable to conclude on the basis of the evidence available that the worker suffered from chronic bronchitis.

The defendants filed an application for permission to appeal the judge’s decision in the successful test case. The defendants’ application for permission to appeal was refused by the judge.

As a result of concessions made by British Coal and negotiations between the parties, 89 cases have already settled successfully. It is now hoped that the findings of the judge in the test cases will ensure the swift resolution of the remaining cases within the cohort.

A partner and expert industrial disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell Roger Maddocks said, “This decision is an important milestone. Whilst it concerns just two claimants from the group, it should provide the parties with an opportunity to begin resolving the many remaining claims. It should also bring some closure for those who have been waiting many years for justice.  

“Former coke workers were often employed in horrendous working conditions and they were exposed to harmful dust and fumes as a result of their day to day job. We represent many people who have developed a life-changing respiratory disease, and in some cases, fatal cancers as a result of that exposure at work. This judgment should go some way in ensuring that those responsible are held to account.” 

Partner and industrial disease specialist at Hugh James who is handling cases in Wales Kathryn Singh said, “The resolution of the lead cases and successful conclusion of the lead claims is a pivotal milestone in this litigation, and one in which the claimants have had to fight for. Focus can now be given to a swift resolution we hope of the remaining cases in the group. 

“The workers were exposed to harmful dust and fumes during their employment.  It an important case for access to justice enabling multiple ex workers and families to bring their claims together in cases that may have never got off the ground on their own.”

The judgment on behalf of British Coal coke oven workers closely follows the Phurnacite Workers Group Litigation which was brought by Hugh James on behalf of 183 ex-workers of the Phurnacite plant in Abercwmboi, near Mountain Ash. Judgment was handed down by the High Court in 2012 who found that British Coal failed to protect Phurnacite workers from dust and fume causing them to suffer from respiratory diseases.

A separate group litigation is also being brought by Hugh James and Irwin Mitchell on behalf of former British Steel coke oven workers. The case is expected to reach trial in 2020.

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Children protected from cleaning product injuries 13/08/2018

FAMILIES IN East Ayrshire are being urged by the Royal Society for the Prevention Accidents (RoSPA) to take action to protect their children from the risks of household cleaning products

The latest phase of the Take Action Today, Put Them Away campaign was launched at East Ayrshire Council’s Vibrant Communities Playday at Kay Park, Kilmarnock.

This follows the scheme’s success in Birmingham, Liverpool, King’s Lynn, Nottingham, Newcastle and Bradford, where 240,000 families have been helped to prevent poisoning and eye injuries.

Across Scotland in 2016/17, 342 children under the age of five were poisoned in their own homes. NHS Ayrshire and Arran recorded one of the highest numbers of poisonings in this age group for the same period (48).

As part of the campaign, a handy magnetic notepad featuring key safety advice will be handed out to families by home safety officers, public health nurses, health visitors, children’s centres and parent and toddler groups.

RoSPA Scotland’s community safety development manager Carlene McAvoy said, “The notepad acts as a constant reminder in family kitchens to store cleaning products out of reach, out of sight and in a locked cupboard.

“Due to their inquisitive nature, children under the age of five are most at risk of accidentally swallowing or getting household cleaning products, like liquid laundry capsules, into their eyes. Even products with a child-resistant closure cannot guarantee safety – they only reduce the risk by delaying access to the product.”

Philip Malpass, from the industry’s trade body, the UKCPI, said: “Cleaning products are designed to be safe to use and to provide the clean and hygienic home we often take for granted today. The accidents we see involving young children and cleaning products are avoidable and while the severity of the injuries are generally low, we hope that this campaign will remind parents to follow the usage instructions on the packaging, and in so doing, avoid unnecessary accidents.”

Cabinet member for community safety at East Ayrshire Council Councillor Jim McMahon said, “We are pleased to be teaming up with RoSPA to raise awareness of this important issue and Playday was the perfect place to launch the campaign as there were plenty of young people, parents and carers to spread the message to.

“We cannot underestimate the damage that can be done to young children from potential poisons in the home, and the importance of ensuring that they cannot get access to cleaning products or toxic chemicals which can cause rashes, chemical burns, breathing problems, or eye damage.”

Take action today, put them away advice to parents includes:

  • Store household cleaning products out of reach of children, preferably in a locked cupboard;

  • Always store chemicals in their original containers;

  • Never pierce or break laundry capsules or tablets;

  • Always close the lid of any product; and

  • In the event of an incident, follow advice on the product pack and seek medical attention.

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