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Charitable trust fined after public injured 14/10/2019

SHEFFIELD COUNTRYSIDE Conservation Trust (SCCT) was sentenced for safety breaches after a 46-year-old woman was knocked unconscious by a falling tree and her four-year-old grandson received minor head injuries.

Sheffield Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 11 December 2017, SCCT was tree felling in Truman Road, Stocksbridge. The tree was being felled by chainsaw with the assistance of a winch and when the last cut was applied, instead of it falling in the expected direction, it twisted out of control and fell onto the lane. The tree came to rest on the site boundary wall and a security gate on the other side of the lane. At the time the woman and her grandson were walking up the lane and two were injured by the falling tree. The woman’s five-year-old granddaughter, also present, was uninjured.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the characteristics of the particular tree were not properly assessed prior to felling and the tree did not fall in the intended direction. The method used for felling this size and shape of tree was not the correct one. A different method was needed because of its shape and angle of lean. Site supervision was also inadequate. The work on the day of the incident was poorly organised and effective measures had not been taken to prevent members of the public entering the danger zone.

Sheffield Countryside Conservation Trust of Wood Lane Countryside Centre, Stannington, Sheffield pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The trust has been fined £3,000.00 and ordered to pay £1,000.00 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Eddy Tarn commented, “Use of signs and banksmen to warn members of the public should have been in place.

“This incident could have easily been prevented if a site-specific risk assessment and method statement had been used”

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Wales Health at Work partnership launched 14/10/2019

TWO OF the biggest health issues facing Wales’ working population – wellbeing and mental health and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) – were explored at a multi-agency conference in Llandudno.

The Wales Health at Work Summit 2019 was particularly focussed on helping small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to address these issues and attendees heard from a wide range of speakers across government and industry.

The Summit was hosted by the newly-formed Wales Health at Work Partnership (WHWP), a coalition of organisations committed to improving workplace health and wellbeing in Wales.

Members of WHWP include the Welsh Government, Public Health Wales and its ‘Healthy Working Wales’ programme, the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and social partners.

Outlining its future agenda at today’s launch the WHWP set itself several objectives to support Welsh business – including SMEs and ‘micros’ – and its workforce by:

  • Promoting new and existing initiatives in Wales to improve health at work and mental wellbeing.
  • Sharing approaches, tools, and workplace experience for managing the risk, and reducing the incidence, of the major causes of occupational ill health in Wales.
  • Gathering and acting on information regarding additional health support needed by Wales’ working population.
  • Developing a co-ordinated and sustainable approach to underpin the work of the Partnership.

Welcoming people to today’s event, Summit chair, Public Health Wales’ Jyoti Atri said, “Today’s event marks an important landmark. It brings together practitioners from across the public health and workplace health boundary. Working together we will bring improved outcomes for health and wellbeing through work.”

HSE’s deputy director of the Health and Work Programme, Peter Brown said: “Health is a complex area and, as we all know, health improvements are not delivered in one day. That’s as true for HSE’s own role, preventing work-related ill health, as for any other, and makes partnership working all the more important. HSE is therefore delighted to be a part of today’s launch.”

Councillor Dafydd Meurig (Gwynedd), WLGA spokesperson for regulatory services added: “This summit is an important step forward – but it’s the beginning of a process, not the end. Ill health in Welsh workplaces continues to take a heavy toll. Our end goal must be to see lasting improvements, so we urge all those with a shared interest to join us in this mission”.

WHWP told the conference that it recognised the importance of healthy and safe workplaces for good public health and believes its role will be pivotal in delivering lasting beneficial change for Welsh businesses and their employees.

Attendees were asked to capitalise on today’s summit and bring WHWP members together with the wider health and work community to explore all possibilities for future collaboration.

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Companies fined after workers exposed to asbestos 14/10/2019

RJW BUILDING Solutions Limited, a contractor carrying out refurbishment work at the Sea Hotel in South Shields, and Hotel 52 (Sea) Limited, the client company who arranged this work, were sentenced after workers disturbed asbestos.

South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard that while workers were refurbishing the bar area of the Sea Hotel in September and October 2018, they disturbed asbestos.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that both companies had failed to ensure an appropriate assessment was carried out to check for the presence of asbestos in the areas of the Sea Hotel where refurbishment work was taking place.

RJW Building Solutions Limited of Bridge End Industrial Estate, Hexham pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and was fined £20,000 with £1,084.59 costs.

Hotel 52 (Sea) Limited of Stockbridge, Newcastle upon Tyne pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 etc and was fined £16,000 with £1,246.90 costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Loren Wilmot said, “Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fibre which was widely used in both building and engineering materials for its strength, heat and chemical resistance.  There are several different types of asbestos however they all share similar properties. When asbestos is disturbed, fibres are released into the air where they can be inhaled and may penetrate the lungs. This can cause serious diseases including mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. These diseases do not have an immediate effect, they often take a long time to develop, but once diagnosed, they are often fatal.

“Asbestos related disease is responsible for the premature deaths of approximately 5000 people annually. Whilst the supply and manufacture of asbestos has been prohibited in the UK for approximately 20 years it can still be present in any building or industrial process plant built or refurbished before the year 2000.

“In this case both the client and contractor failed to protect workers from the risks to their health by failing to prevent their exposure to asbestos.”

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Plumber conducted unregistered gas work 14/10/2019

AN ESSEX-based plumber has been sentenced after carrying out unsafe and unregistered gas work in Brentwood, Essex.

Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court heard that during November 2016 Josh Pitman, trading as Pitman Plumbing, installed a new Worcester Bosch Combi boiler and pipework in one property, and relocated a Baxi Duo-tec boiler and associated pipework in another, whilst not being registered with the Gas Safe Register. Mr Pitman forged the signature of a registered gas engineer, and a gas leak was detected at one of the properties following his work.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Mr Pitman was not competent to work on the gas appliances and did not possess the necessary qualifications to carry out gas work. He was not registered with Gas Safe Register at the time he carried out the work.

Mr Pitman of Billericay, Essex, pleaded guilty to breaching two charges of Regulation 3(3) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. He was sentenced to 12 weeks custody for each offence, to be served concurrently, suspended for two years. He was also ordered to carry out 160 hours of unpaid work and 10 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement Days. Mr Pitman was also required to pay costs of £1,000 and a £630 compensation order to one of the homeowners.

After the hearing HSE inspector Adam Hills said, “Mr Pitman showed a clear disregard for the law and put his customers’ lives at risk. He had previously been an apprentice in the gas trade, so it is inconceivable that he did not know of the requirement for gas safe registration.

“Carrying out gas work is difficult, specialised and potentially very dangerous. It is therefore vital that only registered gas engineers, who are trained and competent, work on gas appliances and fittings.”

Jonathan Samuel, chief executive of Gas Safe Register, added, “Every Gas Safe registered engineer carries a Gas Safe ID card, which shows who they are and the type of gas appliances they are qualified to work on. We always encourage the public to ask for and check the card, and if they have any concerns about the safety of work carried out in their home, to speak to us on 0800 408 5500 or visit our website at www.gassaferegister.co.uk.”

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Farm fined after employee dies from fall 14/10/2019

A FARM has been fined after an employee fell from height whilst loading a straw spreader as part of the daily bedding up operation for the farm’s animals.

Leicester Magistrates’ Court heard that on 14 July 2018, an employee of A Kirkham & Son, received injuries and subsequently died in hospital from those injuries, whilst working at height to load a straw spreader at Rushey Fields Farm, Woodhouse Eaves, Loughborough. The employee was loading the spreader with straw and fell from a ladder whilst cutting strings from a bale of straw. The employee was found on the ground, having fallen from height. He suffered serious, fatal head injuries from the fall.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found there was no suitable and sufficient risk assessment or safe system of work in place for this operation. It was possible for the task to be carried in other ways and avoid working from a ladder.

A Kirkham & Son, of Farm Rushey Lane, Loughborough pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6(2) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The farm has been fined £12,000, and ordered to pay costs of £6296.32.

After the hearing HSE inspector Jenna McDade said, “This incident could have been avoided had the operation been properly risk assessed and a safe system of work been put in place.

“Businesses should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate action against those that fall below the required standard.”

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BSIF newsletter 08/10/2019

The current uncertainty surrounding Brexit and its implications for the UK Safety market is an issue for all, BSIF are working closely with government and EU departments to stay as up to date as possible during the process and we recommend keeping a close eye on bsif.co.uk and the BSIF mobile app to enable you to hear first the information when it is released.

During the winter months when shorter days mean reduced visibility the dependence on high visibility workwear to identify employees is increased hugely. High visibility clothing is a key part of the workforce PPE and millions of pounds is spent on it every year within the UK.

All PPE must be correctly tested and certified to meet the appropriate European standard, this includes all high visibility clothing. If it meets the standard, then it is effective for the job it was designed to do, and users of the garment are protected to the appropriate level that the product was designed for.

However, there has been a huge increase in Fake and substandard PPE and in particular high visibility garments being sold within the UK. This causes a massive problem because it is threatening the safety and in some cases the lives of people who think they have taken the necessary precautions to protect themselves with high visibility clothing only for them to actually not be properly protected.

A number of items are available that claim CE approvals but in reality, they have not been appropriately certified. Even worse, some items are in fact counterfeits of existing products. In our experience these products just do not perform as they should, putting lives at risk. There have been court cases brought against several high street retailers and fines handed out for the sale of substandard high visibility clothing. It is imperative that when you buy a high visibility item you should check that it is authentic and up to the standards required.

To provide the highest level of protection and comfort, there are a number of specifications to which your high visibility garments should adhere.

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Lanes Group fined £400,000 after worker falls 09/10/2019

LANES GROUP PLC was fined £400,000, with £9,896.19 costs, after pleading guilty to one offence under the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

The company was fined £500,000 at Westminster Magistrates Court on 17 July, but following an appeal, the Judge at Southwark Crown Court on 4 October adjusted the eventual fine from £500k to £400k. This is a £600k fine reduced by one third for a guilty plea to £400k, instead of a £750k fine reduced by one third to a £500k fine.

The Crown Court applied the same reasoning as the District Judge’s in the Magistrates Court but found that the Company was not afforded enough credit for its mitigation, which was reflected in the new sentence.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that Keith Light, now 54, suffered injuries including a broken collarbone, 11 broken ribs and a punctured lung after falling from a height of 14ft while cutting back vegetation at Brent Cross viaduct.

In a Victim Personal Statement provided to the court Mr Light explained that following the accident on 2 November 2016 he spent 13 days in intensive care during which time he underwent two major operations and now has metal plates pinning his clavicle and ribs. He has been unable to return to his former occupation.

Lanes Group had won the contract to help with maintenance work, including vegetation removal, repairs and painting along the Northern Line in the North London boroughs of Barnet and Haringey and had started work at Brent Cross on 24 October 2016, with Mr Light working his first shift on 31 October.

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) investigation found that Lanes’ site inspection had been inadequate and failed to realise that using ladders was inappropriate for the task and exposed workers to the risk of falling.

On the day of the fall, Mr Light arrived on site at 8am and was not given a safety briefing before starting work painting arches at the viaduct. Later in the day at a more inaccessible part of the site, Mr Light was instructed to climb a ladder and cut back some branches so that painting could continue.

The court heard that in order to reach the branches Mr Light had to twist to the left and reach across and as he did so he felt the ladder lurch and he fell to the ground.

ORR told the court that that the job was neither properly planned nor appropriately supervised, and because Lanes had failed to properly assess the site workers were unable to use equipment, such as a tower scaffold or mobile elevated work platform, which were specified in the work method statement.

Lanes’ Health and Safety Manager did not visit the site.

Ian Prosser, ORR director of safety and HM chief inspector of Railways, said, "Our thoughts remain with the victim who suffered such awful injuries. We welcome the sentence which clearly indicates the seriousness with which this offence is viewed and we expect Lanes and the rail industry as a whole to look very hard at their sites and make sure they are doing everything possible to ensure they are safe."

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Five figure fine after employee loses arm 11/10/2019

A COUNTY Antrim man was fined £20,000 after an employee had his left arm amputated by a screw auger conveyor.

Brian McGuckian, trading as McGuckian Milling Company pleaded guilty to two health and safety breaches at Antrim Crown Court, after an employee sustained serious injuries when his left arm was amputated by a screw auger conveyor.

On the day of the incident, the injured party was working in the blending plant at the animal feed manufacturing site when he noticed a blockage had occurred at a holding bin.  While attempting to rectify the defect his arm was drawn into an unguarded rotating screw auger resulting in the amputation of his left arm below the elbow.

HSENI Inspector Gavin Rowan said, “The investigation found that Brian McGuckian failed to provide adequate information, instruction and training for the operation, use and maintenance of the work equipment. The investigation also found there was a lack of adequate guarding on the screw auger conveyor. 

“Employers must ensure that all machinery is adequately guarded and that their employees are trained and competent to operate machinery. This injury was preventable, and the risk from the unguarded machine should have been identified. Employers should make sure that they properly assess and apply effective control measures to minimise the risk from dangerous parts of machinery.”

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Conference will question rail safety 09/10/2019

AS THE rail industry continues to grow, a leading conference will ask whether enough focus is being placed on the prevention of accidents and ill health.

Health and safety professionals and other senior leaders will gather in Manchester for IOSH’s annual Rail Industry Conference to discuss the challenges they face.

With greater demand for punctuality and improved trains meaning the next strategic planning phase is set to see greater focus on economic performance, IOSH’s Railway Group is determined to ensure health and safety remains at the forefront of minds.

Recently-released figures from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) revealed that 17 passengers were killed and 377 suffered ‘major injuries’ in 2018-19. In the same year, two rail workers lost their lives and 6,247 were injured in accidents, 158 of them classed as ‘major injuries’.

These figures didn’t take account of the number of people becoming ill because they were exposed to diesel emissions, silica dust and other harmful materials and substances.

With more passengers using trains, carriages and platforms are often crowded. While larger stations are being transformed into modern retail outlets, making them even busier. These contribute to increasing health and safety risks.

The conference will ask if senior leaders are placing an appropriate emphasis on health and safety in their strategic planning and whether enough is being learned from past incidents.

David Porter, chair of the IOSH Railway Group, said, “As scrutiny of financial performance increases strong leadership on health and safety is necessary to ensure that there is appropriate attention on the risks to people, as well as the risks to the business.

“While our rail network is much safer now than ever, we cannot take our eye off the ball. But the industry is changing in response to growing passenger numbers and the demand this puts on the system. The approaches and techniques we have used in the past may not be enough to sustain improvements.

“Our conference will aim to get to the heart of the issues, to ask the questions that need to be asked over whether enough focus is being given to preventing accidents and ill health in our industry. Industry leaders must ensure health and safety is prioritised.”

The conference is being held at Manchester’s Science and Industry Museum, between 9am and 4pm on Tuesday 19 November.

Speakers will include: Ian Prosser CBE, HM chief inspector of railways for the ORR; Greg Morse, of the Rail Safety and Standards Board; Andrew Haines, chief executive of Network Rail; and Dr Pete Waterman OBE, chair of the Railway Heritage Trust.

At the event, the winners of the International Railway Group Awards will also be announced.

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NEBOSH simplifies safety 09/10/2019

NEBOSH HAS launched Safety Simplified, a brand new approach to health and safety training.

The three-day, practical course, which innovatively uses augmented reality to bring safety learning to life, has been introduced to drive a revolution in the UK workplace by introducing health and safety knowledge to more people.

The course represents a major new development for NEBOSH. Ian Taylor, chief executive, NEBOSH explains why it’s taking this bold step now: “Every year 1.4 million people suffer from work-related injuries and ill-health. This costs UK organisations £15 billion.  These are huge numbers and let’s not forget, behind these statistics are real people whose lives have been affected.

“A key answer is to get more people aware of and involved in health and safety, after all everyone has a part to play in keeping their workplace safe.  So we decided to develop Safety Simplified. It makes health and safety training both relevant and accessible to all.”

Safety Simplified emphasises the practical nature of health and safety. The course is heavily activity focused, and creatively uses augmented reality (AR) to help people visualise what they’re being taught. There are numerous AR scenarios covering some of the most common safety issues such as noise, vibration, desk working, mechanical hazards, manual handling and working at height.  Learners also complete a simple risk assessment. 

Those who complete it will return to their workplaces with safety tips, ideas and tools which can be put into practice straight away. They will be able to make a real contribution not just to their immediate workspace but to the organisation’s wider culture and its health and safety team.

Employers can easily adopt Safety Simplified to boost the health and safety knowledge and culture across their whole workforce. It is applicable to any sector and is simple to deliver with minimal set-up.  For instance, the AR app and scenarios are free to download to any smart device from Google’s Play Store and the Apple App Store.

Over time, businesses which put their staff through the Safety Simplified training can expect to see reductions in injuries, improvements in how people do their jobs and fewer days lost to illness and injury.  The risk of fines will be reduced, and employer brands better protected. 

“These are all great bottom-line benefits, but most importantly, by creating safer places to work, staff will be better protected – and that’s good for everyone,” adds Ian Taylor.

With flexible ‘on the day’ registrations and the ability to deliver Safety Simplified to a specific organisation’s needs, any employee, anywhere in the world, can complete the course.

To find out more about Safety Simplified or to find a local learning partner visit www.safetysimplified.com

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