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Carlsberg fined £3m following ammonia gas leak 29/06/2022

CARLSBERG HAS been fined £3 million after a contractor died and another was seriously injured following an ammonia gas leak at one of its breweries.

The incident happened at Carlsberg’s site in Northampton. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Carlsberg hadn’t put proper controls in place.

Father-of-two David Chandler, 45, was killed and David Beak, now 57, was seriously injured.

David Chandler was a father of two, from Bridge North, Shropshire. His family today said they welcomed the end of the case against Carlsberg and hoped no other families would have to suffer as they have.

Birmingham Crown Court heard that at its Northampton brewery Carlsberg had failed to put in place appropriate isolation controls to prevent exposure to ammonia before work started to remove a compressor from a refrigeration system.

The Principal Contractor for the project was Crowley Carbon UK Ltd, which had appointed numerous contractors to assist in the works.

On 9 November 2016 while the compressor was being removed, there was a large, uncontrolled release of ammonia.

David Chandler and David Beak were both employees of sub-contractor Speedrite NE Ltd.

Twenty people needed hospital checks after showing symptoms of ammonia exposure. It was several days before the leak was contained and gas levels dropped to a safe level. David Beak, of Failsworth in Oldham, was seriously injured.

Carlsberg Supply Company UK Ltd, who were summonsed under their new company name of Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company, pleaded guilty to charges under Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The company was fined £3 million with costs of £90,000.

Mr Chandler’s family, in a statement, said, “We welcome the conclusion of the prosecution case against Carlsberg UK Supply Company Ltd following the death of David five and half years ago.

“As a family we will never fully accept the death of David in such tragic but preventable circumstances and the legal process involved has been emotionally exhausting as well as frustrating given the length of time which has lapsed since the accident.

“We are pleased that improvements have been made at Carlsberg’s site in Northampton which will hopefully ensure no other families suffer the anguish we have endured since November 2016 when the failings at the brewery resulted in the deadly release of ammonia gas which caused David’s death.

“David was a loving husband, adoring Daddy and much-loved brother and Uncle. We are devastated that his young family will not be able to share their lives with him as they grow. He was a larger-than-life character whose loss has left a massive void nothing can replace.

“There have already been so many special and precious moments which David has missed out on and the fact that there will continue to be some many more as his daughters grow into young ladies breaks all our hearts daily. He is missed every day, and our lives will not ever be the same without him.”

HSE principal inspector Samantha Wells said, “Industry guidance on safe isolation of plant should have been followed. This would have ensured that a higher level of isolation was in place, for prevention of exposure to this highly toxic and flammable substance.

“Both the client, Carlsberg, and the Principal Contractor should have worked together to ensure that the risk was adequately managed. Not only Carlsberg had a duty here. There was also a very clear duty on the Principal Contractor.

“This underlines the dangers of not following industry guidance when working with toxic and flammable substances – HSE will take action against all who fail to ensure the safety of employees and others who may be exposed to danger.

“Projects involving multiple contractors require effective management arrangements, so it’s clear who is responsible for every part of the work and that safety checks are carried out before allowing work to start.”

The Health and Safety Executive also brought a case against Crowley Carbon Ltd in relation to the incident which led to the death of Mr Chandler and the injuries to Mr Beak, which were also due to be tried but for the company being placed into compulsory administration by creditors.

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Smart motorways ranked top risk by courier drivers 28/06/2022

A NEW survey has highlighted that couriers regard smart motorways and the removal of hard shoulders as the greatest risk to health and safety. Two in five drivers who regularly use national highways identified the smart motorways as the top danger.

This follows the government’s recent announcement that National Highways is set to invest a further £500 million into improving the safety of smart motorways, after over £7 billion has been invested since 2014.

According to the study, not enough rest breaks on long journeys (37%) and excessive stress and workplace pressure (27%) were next on the list of health and safety concerns cited by couriers.

Surging demand has led to increased strains on UK courier companies, with the study finding just under half of courier companies delivering up to 50% more parcels than they did pre-Covid. As a result, half of couriers have experienced excessive stress or a decline in mental health due to pressure in the industry.

The Courier Support Survey – conducted by return loads platform Courier Exchange – includes input from 287 courier company owners and drivers, from across the UK. It highlights the greatest pressures within the sector, and the impact on company viability and employee health. It also offers insight on how industry issues can be overcome.

Full survey findings available here: https://courierexchange.co.uk/blog/the-2022-courier-support-survey/ 

How will smart motorways impact courier drivers?

Reducing congestion will be beneficial for couriers, making them less likely to face issues with finishing their working day. Half of the courier drivers surveyed have worked extra hours to complete deliveries over the last two years due to delays outside of their control, such as traffic.

Recent data from National Highways found that smart motorways are our safest roads in terms of serious casualties. However, there is still communication needed. Research from RAC highlighted that one in four drivers who’ve been on smart motorways were unaware of their emergency refuge areas, which have sometimes replaced hard shoulders.

Almaz Cleary, sales manager at Courier Exchange says, “This can be an emotive issue, but the most important consideration should be that those using the UK’s roads – especially people such as couriers who rely on them so heavily – have the information they need to operate safely and with confidence.

“There are continuously new developments in this industry, and it can sometimes be difficult to adapt. Seeking out accurate information from authoritative sources and voicing concerns with fellow members of the industry can help companies progress and thrive.”

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Worker falls 30 feet through warehouse skylight 29/06/2022

A BLACKBURN based warehouse owner has been fined after an employee of a roofing contractor Nizamuddin Gorji fell approximately 30 feet through a glass skylight on a warehouse roof resulting in severe life changing injuries.

Preston Crown Court heard that roofing contractor Nizmuddin Gorji was engaged by Floors ‘n’ Carpets Limited of Gate Street, Blackburn to over-clad the existing roof.  Three operatives were employed to carry out the work which started on 13 May 2020.  The following day, one of the employees, Taj Zahir fell through the roof sustaining serious injuries to his pelvis, arm, knee and face and has undergone extensive surgery since.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Floors ‘n’ Carpets Limited failed to undertake due diligence checks on the roofing contractor’s documents and ensure a construction phase plan was prepared prior to work commencing.  Nizmuddin Gorji previously pleaded guilty to failing to adequately plan the work and provide coverings or underslung nets to prevent or mitigate a fall through the fragile roof.  He had not completed any health and safety training and did not adequately train the operatives he employed.

Floors ’n’ Carpets Ltd of Gate Street, Blackburn pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £96,000 and ordered to pay costs of £36,919.75

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Jackie Western, said: “The risks from working at height are well known. Those with control of work at height have a duty to ensure safe methods of working, which should include ensuring the use of suitable work equipment and adequate supervision.”

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Demolition company fined after fall from height fatality 28/06/2022

A DISMANTLING and demolition company has been fined after a worker fell 30 feet to his death when part of a pipe bridge platform gave way.

Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court heard that John Gary Robertson, known as Gary Robertson, employed by CBR02 Limited (formerly known as Brown and Mason) suffered multiple injuries following a fall from height at Longannet Power Station, Fife on 6 February 2019.

A joint investigation by the Health and Safety Executive and Police Scotland into the incident found that the section of metal grating on the pipe bridge which the deceased had been standing gave way under his weight, as it had been extremely corroded. By failing to record the extremely hazardous condition of the pipe bridge the Company failed to undertake a suitable and sufficient risk assessment. In particular, the risk assessment, which formed part of the final, revised method statement, did not address the severely corroded nature of the pipe bridge, despite that being previously highlighted and requested by the client, Scottish Power. The Company failed to put necessary control measures in place, to inform employees of the hazardous condition of the pipe bridge, and to prevent access to it.

CBR02 Limited of Hertford Road, Middlesex pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company has been fined fined £5,000.

Speaking after the case HSE principal inspector, David Charnock said, “Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities in this country and the risks associated with working at height are well known.

“In this case, adequate communication of suitable information and instructions would have made employees aware of the unsafe condition of the pipe bridge platform.”

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BSC urges employers to back wellbeing 29/06/2022

AT THE start of World Wellbeing Week, which takes place from 27 June to 1 July, the Chairman of British Safety Council, Peter McGettrick, has issued a rallying cry to all businesses and employers to make the wellbeing of their staff as important as their health and safety.

It comes on the back of findings in a survey conducted by British Safety Council last week, showing a third of people (32 per cent) say their employer is not particularly or not at all committed to their wellbeing. While 42 per cent do say their employer is committed to wellbeing, they think they could do more, and just 26 per cent believe their employer is very committed to wellbeing.

Peter McGettrick said, “Now more than ever, as we emerge from more than two years of the Covid pandemic, I believe we have a duty to make people’s wellbeing as much a priority as we do preventing them being injured or made ill through their work.

“And what do we mean by ‘wellbeing’? We mean that the skills, talents, individuality, and contribution of every employee should be at the heart of any successful business. That way, people can truly thrive, both in and outside of work.”

In British Safety Council’s poll, the biggest issue affecting people’s wellbeing following the Covid pandemic is the cost of living, according to 59 per cent of the survey respondents. Other issues were workload pressures (mentioned by 17 per cent), effects of staff shortages (13 per cent) and challenges to do with balancing hybrid work and life (11 per cent).

Recently, Peter addressed MPs and peers in the House of Commons at an event held to launch the British Safety Council’s Keep Thriving campaign among parliamentarians and encourage their support. MPs Wendy Chamberlain, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Work and Pensions, and Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, Shadow Minister for Mental Health, spoke at the event and gave the Keep Thriving campaign their backing.

Wendy Chamberlain MP said, “Wellbeing is absolutely vital for both workers and businesses. Following Covid, looking at people's wellbeing is going to be really important not only for organisations but for governments, economies and countries.”

Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP said, “Mental illness can affect us all, and studies show that for every £1 invested by employers in workplace mental health initiatives, they get £5 in return.

“Campaigns like Keep Thriving not only help break down the stigma of mental illness in the workplace but show employers how a few simple changes can really benefit the wellbeing of their employees. For too long, people have had to hide their poor mental health, at work. We need to work together to make this a thing of the past.”

The Keep Thriving campaign is calling on employers, government and wider society to come together to improve people’s wellbeing. Among its eight calls to action, organisations and businesses are encouraged to sign up and commit to:

  • Appointing an executive director responsible for wellbeing, acting as a sponsor driving change
  • Actively engaging employees in determining workplace wellbeing interventions that work for them
  • Adopting a holistic approach to health, safety and wellbeing, focused on training people to enable prevention and avoid poor wellbeing.

In British Safety Council’s poll, just 55 per cent of respondents say their workplace has an integrated health, safety and wellbeing strategy.

Peter McGettrick added: “At British Safety Council, we believe that employers should adopt a holistic approach to health, safety and wellbeing, as we know they affect each other. When people are stressed or suffer poor mental health, they are also much more likely to have accidents or injure themselves. Likewise, someone who is unwell or recovering from something, they can often find their wellbeing suffers as a result.”

As a charity which has campaigned for over 65 years on issues of safety and health, British Safety Council is one of the first organisations to take a truly holistic, integrated approach to health, safety and wellbeing.

Through its Being Well Together programme, the charity offers training, audits and consultancy, and advice across all aspects of wellbeing – including social, emotional, mental health, financial and environmental.

Find out more about Keep Thriving here.

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Duo jailed for 10 counts of modern slavery 29/06/2022

A COUPLE who subjected victims to a life of misery and poverty by forcing them to work and spending their earnings, have been jailed for modern slavery offences.

Maros Tancos, 45, and Joanna Gomulska ,46, trafficked at least 29 vulnerable people to the UK from Slovakia or Hungary on the promise of a better life.

Tancos has been jailed for 16 years and Gomulska has been jailed for nine years at Bristol Crown Court.

From the moment they arrived in the UK, the victims were under the control of Tancos and Gomulska. The men and women would be taken to their new home, stripped of their identity documents and met with violence if they asked for money or food.

Victims were forced to work at Tancos’ car wash for free, finishing their shift and taken to other manual jobs with little or no break- and made to work when injured.

Their earnings were taken by Tancos and Gomulska, who gave the victims basic rations of food and kept them in poor living conditions. 

The pair used this money, not to feed or provide decent shelter for the victims, but on online gambling sites, flights and to entrap more victims.

Ruona Iguyovwe, senior specialist prosecutor said, “This is a truly harrowing case of exploitation spanning nearly a decade, where people were trafficked and subjected to a life of misery to line the pockets of two ruthless individuals.

“Referring to the house as a ‘gate to hell’, one victim’s account shows how they felt trapped, unable to seek help without identity documents, locked in the house and threatened.

“Gaining the victims’ confidence has been fundamental to this case, and a significant amount of work went in to caring for, and engaging with them, throughout the process. I commend every person who testified for their bravery.”

The CPS worked closely with partners here and abroad to get the case to court. Identifying at least 29 victims, the focus was securing evidence and gaining the victims’ confidence to keep them engaged and ensure they were comfortable with the unfamiliar justice process.

Many victims were able to give their evidence remotely, pre-recording their testimony and being cross-examined via video-link. This allowed those understandably reluctant, or unable to return to the UK, the chance to be part of this trial.

Building the case

The mobile phones seized when the pair were arrested by National Crime Agency Officers were full of incriminating data which corroborated the accounts of the victims.

The phones contained:

  • A list of pin codes to access the victims’ accounts
  • Images of bank cards
  • Employment records for the victims
  • Identity documents for the victims
  • Flight details  

As the victims had no access to their own accounts, the presence of these documents on Tancos and Gomulska’s phones, combined with banking analysis showing cash being withdrawn and transferred online, proved they were responsible.

Ruona Iguyovwe, senior specialist prosecutor continued, “Tancos and Gomulska took everything they could from the victims, depriving them of the most basic human needs and acting for their own gain.

“This has been a deeply distressing case for everyone who has worked hard to ensure these two face justice for the damage they have done to people who just wanted a better life.

“It was a long trial, but we have been able to hold them accountable for their horrific actions and secure justice for the victims”.

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Driver training will increase safety 27/06/2022

THE UK'S booming logistics sector must not fall behind on safety and compliance while in a period of expansion, urges TTC. It is calling on the industry to continue to focus on driver training for all within the sector in order to increase road safety, decrease accident rates and lower fleet costs for operators, for the benefit of all.

The UK logistics industry has expanded by 190,000 employees in three years and is on track to overtaking the UK’s largest employer, the NHS by 2023. While this has created more than 125,000 jobs across the UK, it has also increased the pressure on operators to fill driving roles. With the increased risk that driver training and compliance could slip in the face of rapid growth, TTC is urging operators to keep in mind that an increase in training and compliance leads to lower operational costs in the medium and long term.

Andy Wheeler, head of technical delivery at TTC commented, “It has been excellent to see the UK logistics sector flourish, and the huge number of jobs created as a result, however this has raised the need for increased levels of driver training across the country to ensure the safety of road users.”

Wheeler added, “While we have seen an increase in driver training uptake over the last three years, with the industry set to expand further with even more drivers recruited, it is crucial that ongoing driver training does not take a back-seat for operators. With new and existing drivers given access to the correct training to maintain compliance, the UK will be able to continue levelling up in safety.”

“Logistics companies which ensure their driver training programs remain a priority for managers, see immediate returns on investment, as alongside driver safety, downtime is minimised, insurance risks fall, and repair and maintenance costs fall alongside fuel consumption, in short, it’s a win win,” concluded Wheeler.

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Dairy Crest given record fine 27/06/2022

THE MAKER of popular brands like Cathedral City and others has been fined £1.5 million - the largest fine ever awarded for an Environment Agency conviction in the South West.

The environmental performance of Dairy Crest Limited has been unacceptable for too long and needs to significantly improve, says the Environment Agency.

Dairy Crest Limited, owned by Saputo Dairy UK, and its management of the Davidstow Creamery near Camelford, north Cornwall, has been falling way short of the standards expected by the Environment Agency when it comes to the company’s management of liquid waste, odour and environmental reporting, Truro Crown Court heard.

Ever since the site changed production to focus on whey processing, particularly to produce powder used in baby milk and other products, the effluent being discharged into the River Inny has been more challenging to treat. This has resulted in unacceptable pollution of the local river, which is a tributary of the River Tamar, causing significant harm to fish and other aquatic wildlife. Another issue has been foul odours which have often affected the lives of local residents.

Dairy Crest, which produces brands such as Cathedral City at its Davidstow plant, previously pleaded guilty to 21 of 27 charges brought by the Environment Agency. For committing this catalogue of offences, the firm was fined £1.52 million at the crown court on 23 June 2022. It had already agreed to pay costs of £272,747.

Delivering the sentence, HHJ Simon Carr expressed the view that he had not seen consistent performance evidenced by the company over a 5-year period.  The judge identified a poor, middle management culture as a contributing factor to the environmental harm caused that should have been dealt with by senior management much sooner.

He said it felt like there was never a time without a problem and some of those responsible for the wastewater treatment plant felt bullied and unable to come forward.

Judge Carr added he had been ‘moved’ when reading testimony from residents whose lives had been ‘blighted’ by odours.

The offences included:

  • Releasing a harmful biocide, used to clean the wastewater tanks and pipework, into the river and killing thousands of fish over a 2 kilometre stretch on 16 August 2016.
  • Coating the River Inny with a noxious, black sludge for 5 kilometres in 2018, through a release of a mass of suspended solids in July and August 2018.
  • Consistently exceeding limits on substances like phosphorous and suspended solids entering the River Inny, from 2016 up to 2021.
  • Numerous leaks of part-treated effluent into nearby watercourses and onto the land.
  • Foul odours repeatedly affecting residents over many years.
  • Failing to tell the Environment Agency within 24 hours of when things had gone significantly wrong on site, on 7 separate occasions.

Helen Dobby, area director of the Environment Agency said, "As a large and well-established operator, Dairy Crest Limited should be up to the job of maintaining the required environmental standards. Instead, it has over a period of many years failed to comply with its environmental permit and not been able to protect local people and the environment.

"We acknowledge that Dairy Crest Limited has been taking steps to remedy the various problems, but unfortunately, these actions were not swift enough on many occasions and proved to be ineffective in stopping pollution."

The Environment Agency remains deeply concerned about the environmental performance of this site and its impact on the environment. It will continue to monitor the situation and regulate this site closely and urges the operator to make the right decisions and level of investment on site to better protect the wildlife and people of Cornwall.

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Tributes paid to former IOSH president 27/06/2022

TRIBUTES HAVE been paid to J Russell Brownlie, a former president of IOSH, who passed away recently in Edinburgh.

Tributes have been paid to J Russell Brownlie, a former president of IOSH, who passed away recently in Edinburgh.

Russell was a Chartered Fellow of IOSH and served as president of the Institution between 1982 and 1983. Dedicated to the profession, he was also a recipient of a Distinguished Service Award from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), and in recent years remained interested in news from the Cross Party Group on Accident Prevention and Safety Awareness at the Scottish Parliament.

His family said he passed away peacefully on Thursday 9 June.

Current IOSH President Louise Hosking said: “I was very sad to learn of Russell’s passing. As a former IOSH President and a Chartered Fellow, he is someone who reached the highest levels of his profession, showing great dedication to protecting people at work.

“On behalf of IOSH, I would like to express our deepest condolences to Russell’s family and all who were close to him.”

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Timetable announced for safe staffing legislation 22/06/2022

WORK IS underway to implement legislation designed to support the wellbeing of healthcare staff and patients, and will be completed by spring 2024.

The Health and Care (Staffing) Act, passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2019, is the first workload and workforce planning legislation for the NHS and social care in Scotland. It aims to ensure appropriate staffing levels are in place to support high quality care for patients and service users.

The legislation is also designed to embed a culture of openness so that workers are informed about decisions relating to staffing and feel able to raise any concerns.

Work will begin now, in conjunction with professional bodies, trade unions and staff, to develop guidance and tools to support the implementation of the legislation. Alongside this, NHS health boards will pilot and test the guidance and tools, and share learning across Scotland to support full implementation in 2024.

Health and social care secretary Humza Yousaf said, "This legislation will mean that the right people with the right skills are in the right place at the right time, ensuring the best outcomes for patients and service users.

“The provisions in the Act will promote safe and appropriate staffing across our NHS and social care services and in turn improve patient experience.

“Measures set out in the Act will support an open and honest culture, where workers are engaged in relevant processes and informed about decisions relating to staffing.

“This will be a key feature of our efforts to get the NHS back to full recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic, and  build on existing work to increase recruitment and promote staff wellbeing

“We are absolutely committed to engagement with trade unions and employers in relation to producing the necessary guidance before full implementation of the Act’s provisions."

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