Monthly Archives: April 2012

Veolia Fined After Worker Sustains Serious Burns

Veolia Environmental Services, a waste management firm, has been ordered to pay £5000 in fines and costs of £12,243 by City of London Magistrates Court following an incident where an agency worker at its incineration depot on Landman Way in Deptford sustained severe burn injuries on 29 December 2009. The agency worker, who wishes not to be named, was cleaning ash from a filtration hopper at the plant when he suffered 17 per cent burns to his body. The ash fell on him when he was trying to unblock part of the machine with the aid of a rod.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an investigation which discovered that the policies and procedures that Veolia had in place for dangerous tasks of this nature were not actually being put into action. As a result, a worker who was vulnerable was put at risk because of the lack of adequate information and supervision provided to him. This agency worker who was Eastern European did not speak much English and as a result was not given sufficient briefing on company work practices before starting work.

Following the hearing, Kerrie Williams, a HSE inspector, stated that the worker was unable to carry out work in a safe manner due to the lack of basic information he received. She then went on to say:

“Veolia operates a high hazard site in Deptford and as such should ensure its systems are sufficiently robust to ensure people are not placed at unnecessary risk.”

Network Rail Fined for Breaching 1974 Safety at Work Act

Network Rail has been ordered to pay fines of £4m by Preston Crown Court because of the safety failings that caused the fatal train derailment in Grayrigg, Cumbria on February 23, 2007, which killed one passenger and injured 86 others. Network Rail is responsible for the upkeep of railways to an adequate standard and ensuring their safety. The firm accepted responsibility for the Virgin Pendolino tilting train which derailed near the remote village.

Network Rail pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act last month and a sentence has just been passed. The London to Glasgow express derailed at 95mph when it struck an inadequately maintained and defective set of points. All of the train’s nine carriages derailed.

The train’s wheels came off the tracks due to the failure of Stretcher bars responsible for holding the moveable rails a certain distance apart when the points are operated.  A Rail Accident Investigation Branch compiled a report following the crash and concluded that the poor maintenance of the failed points were the “immediate cause” of the derailment.

If Network Rail had not pleaded guilty then their penalty would have been £6m. The firm was also ordered to pay £118,037 costs. Chief executive of Network Rail, Sir David Higgins stated –

“Within hours it was clear that the infrastructure was at fault and we accepted responsibility, so it is right that we have been fined.”

The director of railway safety at the Office of Rail Regulation, Ian Prosser, had this to say about the incident with regards to the safety of British Rail –

“Britain’s railways are safe and are one of the safest in Europe. But there is absolutely no room for complacency. Where failings are found those at fault will be held to account and the entire rail industry must continue to strive for improvements to ensure that public safety is never put at a similar risk again.”

 

Recycling Firm Fined £10,000 After Worker Breaks Foot

Countrystyle Recycling Ltd has been fined £10,000 by Maidstone Magistrate’s Court following an incident where a 19- year old worker’s foot was broken by a 16-tonne shovel. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the recycling firm for its failure to implement a safe work system at its site in Kent.

The accident in which a 16-tonne shovel which crushed Mr Brown’s foot resulting in 16 bones occurred on February 22 2010. Daniel Brown was busy sorting waste when the tyre of a 16-tonne shovel ran over his right foot. The incident rendered Mr Brown unable to work  and all hopes were lost for his potential motocross career. Recurring foot pain and arthritis are still issues that he must deal with.

An investigation conducted by the HSE discovered that there was no system of segregation between moving vehicles and pedestrian, apart from informing employers verbally to stay clear. The HSE issued an Improvement Notice at the beginning of its investigation to segregate vehicles and pedestrians in a proper manner.

Countrystyle Recycling Ltd admitted guilt to violating section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 in relation to the incident. The firm was ordered to pay fines of £10,000 in addition to £6,221 in costs.

Stephen Green, a HSE inspector, stated –

“The injured worker was lucky not to be killed as a result of this incident, which could have easily been avoided if the long list of failures with this vehicle and systems had been addressed earlier.

“HSE has plenty of helpful guidance that could have been followed, and if the company had implemented a safe system of work, segregating moving vehicles from pedestrians, then a young man wouldn’t have broken a bone for every tonne of weight that rolled over his foot – 16 in total. There is no excuse for not having a safe system of work in place.”

Following the prosecution, a statement issued by Countrystyle stated –

“The Group takes health and safety matters seriously and has significantly strengthened its safety procedures in light of this incident.”