Norovirus Outbreak on Disney Cruise Spreads to Crew Members

An outbreak of Norovirus on a Disney Cruise ship has spread to 131 passengers and 14 crew members.

A Caribbean cruise from Miami to the Bahamas was ruined for 131 passengers and 14 crew of the Disney Wonder when they were struck down with vomiting and diarrhoea between 27th April and 1st May, later found to be attributed to an outbreak of norovirus on the ship.

The outbreak of disease was immediately reported to U.S. Center for Disease Control, and as a consequence the cruise ship was boarded by environmental health officers on its return to Miami. An investigation was launched to review the outbreak and the company´s response and care of the passengers.

The ship operators informed the environmental health officers that an increased cleaning and disinfection schedule had been implemented in accordance with the cruise ship´s outbreak prevention and response plan. Furthermore, stool specimens had been collected for testing from affected passengers and crew members for further analysis.

The Center for Disease Control analysed the stool samples and confirmed that the illnesses were attributable to norovirus – a common and highly contagious form of gastroenteritis that can be transmitted quickly in confined environments. Environmental health officers are still trying to locate the origin of the outbreak on the ship.

The operators are handling requests for refunds on a case-by-case basis in an attempt to prevent an overload of people seeking compensation. Some of the affected passengers are also being offered credits for future cruises.

Disney cruise injury claims are rare. The most recent outbreak comes fourteen years since the last recorded outbreak of norovirus on a Disney cruise ship. On that occasion hundreds of passengers fell ill on two Disney Magic cruises from Port Canaveral. The lack of Disney cruise injury claims has been attributed to staff handing guests hand wipes when they enter dining areas.

This is the tenth outbreak of norovirus on a cruise ship that the Center for Disease Control has investigated and confirmed this year.

Increase in Value of Negligent Dentistry Claims Seen

The DDU has revealed that the number of six-figure claims for compensation made against its members has increased dramatically in the last ten years.

The Dental Defence Union-not unMedical Defence Union, and is an organisation that provides indemnity and legal support for its members when claims for negligent dentistry are made against them. The organisation has recently claimed that there has been a substantial increase in the volume of claims being resolved in excess of £100,000 in the past ten years.

Since 2006 – a year in which only two were settled for amounts in excess of £100,000 – the DDU has paid almost £5 million in six-figure settlements; with £1.1 million compensation for negligent dentistry being paid out in 2015 alone. In the period which was investigated, the highest settlement of the eleven six-figure settlements was for the failure to diagnose and treat periodontal disease leading to tooth loss in the victim.

The head of the DDU-John Makin-has aired his concerns that the increasing number of claims and the escalating settlements of compensation for negligent dentistry are making indemnity more expensive for individual dental practitioners. “We are seeing disturbing rises in the cost of clinical negligence claims and a surge of claims exceeding £100,000 against our dental members,” he said.

Makin cites rising patient expectations and aggressive marketing by medical negligence solicitors as contributory causes in the increased number of six-figure settlements of compensation for negligent dentistry. He listed common allegations made by patients in 2015 as implants or cosmetic treatments that were unsatisfactory, excessive, or where the final appearance was not as expected.

However, critics have commented that Makin´s remarks are misleading. One contributor to argued that it was it was within the patient’s rights to expect a high standard of treatment from dentists, and expect dentists to put things right when they go wrong – or pay compensation for negligent dentistry.

The contributor also criticised the DDU´s head for blaming solicitors for the bigger compensation settlements. He commented that if there were no solicitors, the negligent dentists would be getting away with misdiagnosing gum disease and tooth decay. He added that if the DDU were to admit liability for their members´ faults at an earlier stage – rather than defend indefensible claims – the DDU´s legal costs would be much lower.

Tin Can Manufacturer Fined after Worker is injured

Emballator UK Ltd – a manufacturer of tin cans – has been fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £3,769 in full costs  by Bradford Magistrates’ Court after a 51-year-old worker from Holmewood sustained severe injuries following an incident when a 1.5 tonne pallet of tin plates fell and landed on his right lower leg and foot at the company’s factory in Tyersal. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) subsequently investigated the incident which occurred on 6 February 2012. They prosecuted the company when they discovered numerous safety failings. The worker in question, David Wain, who was employed as a coating assistant, was instructed to use an older machine to turn the tin plate because of a fault with the newer pallet turning machine.

Mr Wain had never used this older machine so a co-worker showed him how to load pallets in it for turning. Following this, Mr Wain used a forklift truck to pick up a pallet, and loaded the machine in the manner that his co-worker had showed him, which was by using empty pallets to wedge the pallets. He then turned the machine on. When the machine turned 180 degrees a few minutes later, he noticed the plates and pallets moving. He attempted to move out of the way, however, all of the metal fell from the machine and trapped his foot against the floor.

Mr Wain sustained several injuries, such as the severing of his big toe and the spliiting of the sole of his foot. He was able to get two of his toes surgically reattached and he also needed plates to be put into his ankle and screws in his lower leg.He spent 11 days in hospital. Since the accident, Mr Wain hasn’t been able to leave the house and also cannot walk without the aid of crutches. He may need to have his lower leg and foot amputated.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation discovered that the company had had not provided employees with safe equipment or a safe work system. Furthermore, Emballator UK Ltd had had not carried out a risk assessment for the older machine. In addition, there was no supervision of Mr Wain as he was using the machine for the first time, nor was it checked that he fully understood the process.

Andrea Jones, the HSE Inspector involved stated –

“Everyone has the right to come home from work safe and well. But David Wain suffered life-changing injuries in an incident that was preventable.

“Emballator UK Ltd failed in their duties to provide a suitable machine for turning pallets and a safe method of operation that Mr Wain could use. Manually securing the load in an open box by means of wedges or empty pallets is not a sufficiently reliable method of securing the load.

“A proper examination of the risks would have shown that there was a danger of the load shifting and falling from the machine, during or after turning. A simple clamping mechanism would have secured it, and was indeed applied to the newer machine.

“It is also essential that checks are made by managers to ensure operators are trained and competent to use the machines they provide, understand the risks and associated precautions to take.”

Halfiax Firm Fined after Teenage Warehouse Worker Breaks Leg

THS Industrial Textiles, a West Yorkshire company, has been fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £4,994 in full costs by Halifax Magistrates for breaching safely laws following an incident where a 1.5 tonne pallet fell on to an 18-year-old warehouse worker and trapped his legs. The worker sustained a broken leg in the incident which occurred in the company’s premises in Heathfield Business Park, in Elland on 16 March 2011. The teenager, who does not want to be named, had to spend three days in hospital and does not work for the company anymore.

After the accident, Health and Safety Executive (HSE conducted an investigation) and subsequently prosecuted the company after they discovered numerous failings with regards to health and safety. It was discovered that the company had a dangerous system of work when it came to pallet and incorrect equipment was provided to workers who therefore were unable to safely carry out the job.

The workers dragged the pallets across the container floor by using straps to bring them closer to the doors where a forklift truck would lift them. The forks also dragged them closer to the doors. Furthermore, this truck did not have a valid lifting certificate and it also was carrying weight that was above its capacity. Before the incident occurred a co-worker of the man had informed the company of this, but THS Industrial Textiles had done nothing to remedy the hazardous working situation.

David Welsh, a HSE Inspector, had this to say about the incident –

“A young worker suffered a serious injury that could have been far worse as a result of this company’s numerous failures. This was not an isolated breach as it was clear these unloading operations had been taking place in an unsafe manner for some time.

“THS Industrial Textiles was very poor at assessing and managing risks arising from this work, despite its dangers being well recognised within the industry.

“Unloading pallets appears to be a simple operation but it needs to be planned carefully, workers need the right equipment for each kind of unloading task, and the employer needs to actively supervise them.”

Staples Disposables Ltd Admits Poor Health and Safety Management after Three Employees are Injured

Following three separate incidents where factors workers sustained hand injuries from using unguarded machines, a Lincolnshire manufacturing firm of disposable paper products – Staples Disposables Ltd – has been ordered to pay fines and costs of £116,000. The company was prosecuted at Lincoln Crown Court on April 19 by The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after they investigated the three incidents at its factory located in Fulbeck Heath of Hurlingham Business Park near Grantham.

The first victim was Bruno Jorge, a 32 year old man from Sleaford. His left thumb was amputated after unguarded machinery on a production line crushed it on July 26th 2011. Mr Jorge was left unable to work for several months but has recently returned to employment at the company and has been assigned other duties.

The next victim was Yelena Semenchenko, a 30 year old agency worker from of Lincoln. Her incident occurred only a month after Mr Jorge’s on August 25th.  The blade of a napkin folding machine cut Ms Semenchenko’s finger and she has not subsequently returned to work for the company.

The third victim, Simon Burnett, aged 46 from Navenby, suffered the loss of all four fingers on his right hand a year later when it got caught between unguarded rollers. It is too soon to tell whether or not Mr Burnett will ever be able to return to work.

The court was told how Mr Jorge had been working on a new production line. When he went to clear a blockage in the machine – a common company practice – his hands got caught in the rollers. He not only suffered a crushed thumb but also a fractured palm. The HSE discovered that when the machine was being tested by engineers, the interlocked guards around the equipment had been overridden by the company for easy access. Management of the company were fully aware of this fact but failed to restore the interlocks.

With regards to the second accident it was found that an electrically-interlocked guard had been removed. This guard had been installed in 2007, after a similar incident had occurred where the company had been been prosecuted by the HSE. However, it was soon removed again within a few weeks of installing them.

The third accident occurred because of the company’s general practice to lock operators within an enclosure for the purpose of keeping them away from the hazardous aspects of the toilet paper production line. This dangerous practice was never noticed or stopped by the manufacturers or its management.

Staples Disposables Ltd pleaded guilty to three charges of breaching Sections 2(1) and one charge of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was ordered to pay a fine of £85,000 and are liable to pay costs of £31,380.

David Lefever, a HSE inspector, had this to say after the hearing –

“Staples Disposables Ltd had a poor health and safety management system and failed to suitably supervise factory operations. The company was well aware that machines should have interlocked guards in place to prevent people accessing dangerous moving parts of the machinery, yet it continued to put workers at risk over a prolonged period. Injury was inevitable.”

Brockmoor Foundry Company Limited Fined after Employee Avoids Fatal Accident

Brockmoor Foundry Company Limited, an iron foundry located in Leys Road, Brierley Hill, West Midlands, has been fined by Dudley Magistrates’ Court after an employee fell off a collapsing platform and almost into a 1400 degree stream of molten metal in October 2011. The 42 year old man, who wishes not to be named, sustained bruising to his arm, neck and shoulders after he fell off the front of the platform. If he had fallen backwards, he would have landed in the deadly molten stream.

This platform that the man had been standing on was designed only to hold sampling equipment. However, an investigation carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered that employees of the foundry would often use the platform as a means to cross the production line and the conveyer. The company had failed to introduce sufficiently safe working practices and also failed to notice this unsafe practice that was being carried out by workers on a regular basis. The platform had collapsed due to this unsafe practice. It was then found that the other platforms in the vicinity were also old, unstable and missing vital safety features such as handrails.

Subsequently, Brockmoor Foundry Company Limited were fined £10,400 and ordered to pay costs of £4,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work (etc) Act 1974.

John Glynn, a HSE inspector, had this to say on the matter –

“The employee was extremely lucky to have only suffered bruising – as it was a matter of good fortune that he fell towards the front of the platform. He could so easily have fallen off the platform entirely, or worse, fallen backwards into the molten metal stream.

“The incident was entirely avoidable and occurred because the company failed to assess the risks and control the hazards associated with their work activities.

“The case demonstrates the importance of effective management. Had the company performed a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks surrounding the area, provided appropriate work equipment and effectively managed their employees’ systems of work, safety in this dangerous environment would have been significantly increased.”

Boatyard Firm Fined for Safety Violations

An Isle of Wight boatyard firm, Harold Hayles Ltd, has been fined by Isle of Wight Magistrates’ Court for its failure to adhere to health and safety regulations following an incident where a mobile crane that was poorly maintained turned over in the middle of a lifting operation at Yarmouth Harbour. There was nobody who sustained injury in the incident that occurred in November 2011, however a car was badly damaged.

The controls of the crane ceased to work properly during the de-rigging phase of an operation when it was being utilised for lifting a yacht into a cradle for winter. In order to move and free the controls, the driver retracted stabilising outriggers. Even though the driver was successful, the crane overbalanced and fell over due to the fact that the jib was still extended.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation and found this was a common occurrence with the controls and that the crane was due annual maintenance and testing. By law, all lifting equipment is required to undergo examination every year; however, three weeks before this incident occurred the crane had missed its test because of the occurrence of a mechanical failure when the engineer came.

HSE then discovered that that the company had not provided an adequate lifting plan for the yacht operation, which is also required by law. The company had been warned by the HSE previously in February 2009 when a routine inspection by the HSE found areas of concern with regards to their lifting operations.

Harold Hayles Ltd admitted guilt to two violations of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 in addition to one breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was then ordered to pay fines of £4,000 in addition to £4,000 in costs

John Caboche, a HSE Inspector, had this to say following the hearing –

“This was a serious incident that could have ended in tragedy had the crane toppled onto a person and not an empty car.

“It was wholly preventable and could have been avoided had the crane been better maintained and had the lifting operation been better planned and managed.

“It is essential that all lifting equipment is in good working condition and that work is carefully assessed by competent personnel, with a lift plan in place and communicated to everyone involved in the work.

“Harold Hayles was fully aware of the dangers and HSE publishes extensive guidance that is readily-available of how to safely manage this type of work.”

Business Man and his Company Fined after Worker Sustains Injuries

A South London businessman and his company, Granite Express Ltd (which went into liquidation in November 2012) based in Beddington Lane, Croydon, have been prosecuted for violating health and safety regulations by Westminster magistrates for an incident where an employee was almost crushed by collapsing stone slabs. The dangerous incident occurred on 16 February 2012 when workmen were unloading the two tonne set of ten slabs from a lorry, when suddenly they fell from the side of it.

Radoslaw Samson, 24, an employee at Granite Express, had just removed supporting packaging from the slabs so that they could be moved by a forklift when the incident occurred.  The slabs toppled when he was making necessary adjustments to the lifting arm of the forklift. Mr Samson and his colleague attempted to jump from the side of the lorry, however Samson was hit by the heavy slabs and subsequently sustained a broken leg and severe bruising to his right side. He was on crutches for six months and was rendered unable to work for ten; he did not return to employment at the company.

Granite Express Ltd and its former director Przemyslaw Zalecki, 37 were investigated and resultantly prosecuted by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident. They were charged with joint safety failings. The company had once before been served a prohibition notice by the HSE when a routine inspection in June 2010 discovered that the lifting arm of the crane was it was not suitable for operating. Mr. Zalecki was advised on how to better adhere to workplace health and safety protocols and how to more effectively assess the risk of equipment used to transport stone slabs.

It was later discovered that the same crane was still in use at the company even after the injuries that Mr Samson sustained. Furthermore, it was found that in addition to the fact that the crane had not received required servicing and maintenance; workers had not been trained adequately to operate this machinery. There was no safe work practice in place and also a lack of supervision for workers provided by Mr Zalecki and his company. Granite Express Ltd admitted two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act l974 and was fined a total of £2,000 with £5,000 in costs. Przemyslaw Zalecki was also fined a total of £2,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs after he admitted to two similar violations of the Act.

Following the hearing, Jane Wolfenden, a HSE inspector stated –

“A young man was very seriously injured because of the cavalier attitude tor safety by Mr Zalecki and his company, Granite Express Ltd. Bearing in mind the weight of these stone slabs, it is fortunate that this was not a double fatality.

“Despite the high risk of serious personal injury involved in the handling and moving of stone slabs being well known in the industry, and despite specific advice to devise a safe system of work for unloading them from a vehicle, the defendants failed to respond.

“The attitude towards health and safety was so poor that the company even permitted the continued use of a lifting attachment that had been subject to a prohibition notice.

“HSE will not hesitate to take action against either companies or their directors whose approach to the wellbeing of their employees fall so well below accepted standards.”

Packaging Firm Fined £200,000 after Worker Suffered Serious Hand Injuries

Smurfit Kappa UK Ltd, a packaging firm, has been fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £19,308 in prosecution costs by Carlisle Crown Court after a 25-year-old employee had his hands stuck in heavy machinery and subsequently sustained serious injury at their Whitehaven factory on 14 September 2010. The employee from Egremont, who wishes not to be named, ended up suffering the loss of four fingers and severed parts of two others in the accident at the company’s site at Richmond Works in Hensingham.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the company following their investigation which discovered that the employee had not been tried adequately prior to the accident and that he also had not been supervised at the time. At the time of the accident the employee was working on a power press, a machine which applies a force of up to 35 tonnes for the purpose of stamping out metal lids, which is then used either at the end of cardboard tubes or for packaging for whisky bottles.

He had been changing the lid producing part of the machine, while trying to make sure that it was producing the correct lid size. To remove the lid, he reached under the pressing tool.  This pressing tool then stamped down on his hands. He subsequently lost the little and ring fingers on his left hand, the ring and middle fingers on his right hand in addition to the little and index fingers on his right hand which had been severed to the second knuckle.

Apparently the employee’s supervisor had left the company four months prior to the incident, however workers that replaced this supervision had not been given adequate training. Furthermore, the injured employee had not been trained sufficiently prior to the incident and adequate risk assessment had not been carried out.

HSE Inspector Andrew Jewitt stated –

“The employee was off work for ten months due to the extent of his injuries, but they will continue to affect him for the rest of his life. He now struggles with everyday activities, like writing and cutting up food, which most of us take for granted.

“The risk of serious injury from power presses is well known in the manufacturing industry and the worker’s injuries could have been avoided if Smurfit Kappa had made sure he and his supervisors had been properly trained.

“Incidents like this will continue to happen if employers don’t take the risks seriously.”

BP McKeefry Ltd Fined for Failure to Ensure Health and Safety of its Workers

BP McKeefry Ltd, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a 26-year-old truck driver from Merseyside was almost fatally injured during an incident where his vehicle hit an 11,000 volt overhead power line as he delivered fertiliser to a farm in Maghull on 14 March 2011. The HSE conducted an investigation following the incident and discovered that the firm’s employees were not adequately trained when it came to the risk management of overhead cables.

The driver, who does not want to be name, had been tipping the fertiliser onto the ground of the farm when the incident happened. He subsequently moved the truck forward, with the trailer still raised, so that the remainder of the fertiliser would be emptied. The corner of the trailer then hit an overhead power line which was about seven metres above the ground.

He then jumped from the truck after hearing popping sounds and then the tires at the side of the truck were set on fire. When he noticed that the truck was touching a cable overhead, he got back in the vehicle to drive it away. The company’s employees should have received proper training that would informed them not to raise trailers unless they were more than ten metres away from a power line. The driver also should have known not to get back into his truck.

BP McKeefry was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £3,000 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to violating the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

HSE Inspector Imran Siddiqui stated –

“The worker was lucky not to be killed when his vehicle struck an overhead power cable, especially when he later jumped back into the vehicle while it was still in contact with the line.

“BP McKeefry specialises in transporting liquid and powder products, such as fertiliser, and so is used to delivering to farms where there may be overhead power lines.

“Despite this, the company failed to provide its employees with a suitable procedure for working near overhead cables, or guidance on what to do if they struck one.”


Suffolk Farming Partnership Fined after Worker Suffers Hand Injury

A Suffolk farming partnership has been ordered to pay fines by Ipswich Magistrates’ Court due to a worker suffering injury whilst working at Cherry Gate Farm, Norwich Road, Mendlesham on 7 November 2011. The worker, Luke Parker, 29 from Eye, was working as an egg collector for Green Label Farms LLP, when he noticed that one of the bird feeding lines in one of the sheds was not operating correctly.

Apparently it was not unusual for these lines to stop working and farm workers were aware of the necessary steps to take in order to make them work again. The cover of a chamber would be removed and chicken feed scooped out so that the sensor would be cleared. The rotating mechanism for carrying the feed along the lines would subsequently be activated and clear the blockage.

However, on this particular day that Mr Parker was clearing the chamber, the sleeve of his jumper got drawn into the rotating parts which pulled his hand and wrist under and around the machine. He successfully prevented the line from working again by covering the sensor with his other hand and called for help from nearby co-workers. He was badly cut which caused nerve damage and tendon damage in his arms. To this day he still suffers from pain and is unable to fully move his right wrist.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation into the incident and discovered that that there was no safety protocols implemented for rectifying blocked feed lines in addition to their being no safety measures in place to prevent the feed line from inadvertently starting up again.

The company was fined a total of £5,000 and ordered to pay £8,372 in costs after pleading guilty to two offences: breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations.

HSE Inspector Saffron Turnell had this to say about the incident –

“Mr Parker was lucky not to have been more seriously injured in what was an entirely preventable incident.

“The company should have had a safe system of work in place to handle blockages, which should have included isolating the power supply to the machinery before anyone put their hand inside the chamber where there were moving parts.

“A secure locking-off of the system would have also ensured the machinery could not start up once the chamber cover was removed.

“Farming is the UK’s most at-risk industry sector with on average between 40 and 50 workers killed on British farms every year. That’s a higher death rate than construction or manufacturing.”

Textile Company Fined After Worker Death

WE Rawson Ltd , a West Yorkshire based textile company, has been fined over £115,000 by Leeds Crown Court for breaching safety regulations after an incident where a 61-year-old forklift truck operator was crushed by a falling stack of rag bales and killed on 22 February 2010. Later that day the worker, James Welka, died in hospital.

The accident that caused Mr Welka’s death occurred when a column of bales collapsed and two bales of rags – which each weighed more than 300kg – hit Mr Welka in the head. Mr Welka from Wakefield had been working for the firm for five years and was an experienced forklift operator.

Mr Welka had been stood next to a five-metre high column of bales on day that the accident occurred. He had been calling a supervisor on the phone. Nearby, a colleague was moving some bales with a forklift. All of a sudden the column fell over towardsthe colleague’s truck, however the two bales that had been on top fell towards Mr Welka and struck him.

A Health and Safety Executive investigation discovered that WE Rawson Ltd had been unsafely stacking these rag bales. Not only were there safety failures with regards to the well-being of its employees, but they were also endangering the lives of pedestrians around the warehouse.

After the incident, HSE inspector Geoff Fletcher said:

“This tragic incident could have been avoided had WE Rawson taken its duty of care toward its employees sufficiently seriously. The sad consequence of the company’s failures is an unnecessary loss of life and the devastating impact this has had on Mr Welka’s partner, family and friends.

“The company was aware that the rag bales were unstable as there was a history of them collapsing. There were simple and straightforward steps that could have been taken to ensure that the stability of the bales did not present a risk to pedestrian workers in the warehouse area. Those measures were not taken.

“After Mr Welka’s death, the company adopted different stacking practices improving the stability of the stacks, reduced the need for pedestrians in the warehouse and improved the control of pedestrians in the warehouse. That is to be welcomed and expected, but cannot compensate for the loss of a life.”

Darlington Company Fined After Failing to Disclose Vital Safety Information To Construction Workers

Northgate Vehicle Sales Ltd, a Darlington company, has been fined fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £6,123.55 costs by Darlington Magistrates’ Court after a 41-year-old construction worker struck a buried electricity cable and sustained severe burn injuries to his face, neck and arms. The worker had been installing metal fencing while refurbishing the company’s car park when the incident occurred on 10 November 2010.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation following the incident and discovered that the company had not provided the construction workers with important information about existing hazards such as buried electricity cables. To install this metal fencing it was necessary for the construction workers to dig holes in the ground for the purpose of inserting the base of each fence post. Before this was carried out, the injured worker had been told that there were no buried electric cables.

As the worker was using ground breaker, the tip of it cut through an 11kV cable that was buried 80cm underground. This then caused a short circuit; at least one million watts of energy were discharged which evaporated the tip of the breaker. A cloud of flame and molten metal was created by this and this is how the worker suffered his burns.

Jonathan Wills, a HSE Inspector, had this to say following the incident’s court hearing –

“The injuries sustained by the worker could have easily resulted in him losing his life. He suffered severe burns and is still recovering from those injuries following an incident that could have been avoided had Northgate Vehicle Sales Ltd requested service plans and given them to those carrying out the construction work.

“The risk of striking underground cables is well known throughout the construction industry and the law says you must take precautions to avoid danger.

“There is a wealth of guidance available for contractors and the clients for whom the work is being carried out to help them manage the risks effectively.”

The latest figures show that seven people died as a result of contact with electricity or electrical discharge in the workplace in Great Britain in 2010/11 and 88 suffered a major injury.

Demolition Company Fined for Unsafe Work Site

Total Demolition UK has been ordered to pays fines of 5,000 with £2,968 costs after the lives of numerous construction workers were put at risk during the demolition of an old office block in Liverpool on 6 August 2012. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector immediately issued a Prohibition Notice which ordered the company to cease work at the site until there had been proper safety measures implemented to prevent workers from falling from a height.

The HSE inspector visited the site when they were informed that the work being carried out by the firm appeared to be unsafe. Upon arriving, it was clear that much of the building had already been demolished above the second floor. There were two workers who were throwing waste to the ground as they stood next to the edge of where a wall had been removed on the second floor. They were climbing over rubble while there was nothing to prevent them from falling if they lost their footing.

HSE Inspector Jacqueline Western stated –

“When I arrived at the site, it was immediately obvious that workers were in danger of being seriously injured if they fell from the building.

“Two of the employees were throwing waste materials from the edge of the second floor so could easily have fallen if they had tripped over the rubble.

“The company installed a handrail around the open edge of the building after receiving the Prohibition Notice, but if that handrail had been in place at the time of my visit then lives would not have been put at risk.”

Contractor ordered to Pay Fines After Worker Loses Fingers

Woodland Environmental Ltd, a contractor located on Hatch Pond Road, Poole in Dorset, has been ordered to pay fines by Westminster Magistrates’ Court for safety failings following an incident where a lorry driver sustained a severe hand injury while he was utilising equipment for wheel cleaning that was unsafe on a construction site near A1 Barnet By-Pass on 22 July 2010. The driver ended up losing his entire index finger, half of his middle finger and severed the end of his ring finger on his right hand in the incident which occurred at a golf driving range that was being renovated. Reattaching his lost fingers was not possible and he has been left with lifelong injury.

The driver was trying to use a wheel spinner, which is supposed to remove mud and debris from a vehicle’s wheels before driving again. However, the construction site’s equipment was in poor working order and had been adapted; this subsequently forced drivers to use equipment in an unsafe manner.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation into the incident and found that a rope was held taut in order to keep a brake lever in place. When the driver tried to release the rope it got stuck and severed his fingers. This rope had been attached to the brake lever for numerous months despite the fact that it was not supposed to be there. The condition of the wheel spinner was the responsibility of Woodland Environmental, but their management systems for monitoring equipment and procedures proved inadequate.

Woodland Environmental Ltd pleaded guilty to two separate breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and was ordered to pay a fine of £5,000 and £8,833 in costs

After the hearing,Stephron Baker Holmes, a HSE Inspector, said that the permanent injuries that the lorry driver sustained were entirely preventable. He then went on to say:

“Those who provide work equipment need to take effective steps to ensure that it continues to function properly, and to ensure that it is not subject to clumsy, make-do adaptations – as was the case here.

Paper Company Fined after Worker’s Hand is Crushed

Cotek Papers Ltd, a Gloucestershire paper producer, has been fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £1,483 in costs by Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court after an unguarded machine crushed a 43-year-old employees hand as they attempted to clean it. The worker, who does not want to be named, sustained severe cuts and bruising to his right hand when it was caught in a paper coating machine rollers on 2 April 2012. He was rendered unable to work for two months.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an investigation following the incident and discovered that when the coating material was changed, the rollers often had to be cleaned several times a day. Generally risk guards protected the five rollers. These guards had to be removed for cleaning, however, which exposed employees to health and safety risks. The company should have provided an alternative, safer method of cleaning the rollers.

HSE Inspector Ann Linden said:

“This incident could have been prevented had there been a safe system of work for cleaning the rollers. Cotek Papers Ltd clearly failed to ensure the safety of its employees, with painful consequences for the injured worker.

“The law clearly states that employers should take all reasonably practicable steps to protect employees from harm arising from their work. In the case of machinery, moving parts that could cause injury should be guarded or made safe so that people cannot come into contact with them. Non-routine operations such as cleaning or maintenance are not exempt from this requirement.”

Garage Fined after Worker Suffers Burns

Windermere Auto Centre, Kankku Ltd, located on Victoria Street in Windermere has been ordered to pay fines by Kendal Magistrates’ Court following an incident on 27 July 2011 where a 26-year-old mechanic was burned severely when he tried to cut the top off an empty oil drum. The mechanic, who is a native of the town, was trying to remove the lid by using a propane torch. However, this set fire to the remaining oil inside the drum, which then caused an explosion. He had to spend five days in hospital after sustaining severe burns to his hands and arms.

The owner of Kankku Ltd, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident. It was discovered that about every three months garage employees would remove the tops of empty oil drums in order to use the drums as a place to store the scrap metal. The company failed to take into consideration the hazardous risks of these actions.

Kankku Ltd admitted guilt for their breach of Regulation 6(1) of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002. The company was ordered to pay fines of £6,000 and £4,746 in prosecution costs. The injured worker also received £500 in compensation from Kankku Ltd.

HSE Inspector Anthony Banks said that there were numerous other methods of cutting off the top of an oil drum that the company could have considered. He added that there were other, more sensible and safe ways of storing scrap metal.

He then said – “Sadly, these types of incidents are all too common, and it’s only luck that the mechanic wasn’t more seriously injured or even killed in the explosion.”

Council Fined after 29 Workers Develop Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome

Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council has been fined a total of £25,000 and ordered to pay £9,417 in costs after 29 employees were diagnosed with a debilitating condition that has left them with long-term hand issues. When employees in the Parks and Leisure Department of the council were affected by Hand Arm Vibration syndrome, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the council.

49-year-old Nick Bower, one of the council workers, developed hand problems after being the Head Green Keeper at Hoylake Golf Course for several years. His duties included regularly working with strimmers and mowers. In 2009 he was diagnosed with the condition and ever since he has had issues with dexterity and feels intense pain in cold weather.

Since being diagnosed he has changed jobs and now has duties that do not involve the use of vibrating equipment. Because of issues with blood flow to his hands and the nerve damage he has sustained, he will have to be on medication permanently. 28 other council other employees at the council also developed Hand Arm Vibration syndrome between July 2005 and December 2009.

Some of the consequences of Hand Arm Vibration syndrome are having a poor grip, experiencing numbness, tingling and suffering an acute sensitivity to cold which results in a great deal of pain. The damage it causes is largely irreversible, but the symptoms can subside somewhat once a person wth the condition isn’t exposed to vibrating tools, which was what the council workers primarily used when they worked. An investigation carried out by the HSE revealed that the council did not adequately assess the risks that the workers faced by using vibrating equipment on a regular basis. Furthermore, limiting use of such tools could have decreased the workers’ likelihood of developing the condition.

Mr Bower had this to say about the affair –

“Before I was diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration syndrome, I would often use vibrating machinery for long periods of time in the course of my job. When I began noticing symptoms and went to the doctor, he immediately asked what I did for a living and made the connection.

“I still have problems with loss of feeling and find it difficult to do everyday tasks such as fastening buttons. An attack can be triggered by everyday events such as a change of temperature or even taking food out of the freezer.

“Although I no longer work with vibrating tools, I will have the condition for life – the nerve and blood vessel damage is irreversible.”

Invetsigating HSE Inspector Christina Goddard said –

“Wirral Council failed to take action to prevent damage caused by vibrating tools, with the result that 29 workers now suffer from a debilitating condition.

“The council should have limited the amount of time workers spent using vibrating equipment or provided alternative tools. If appropriate action had been taken then the workers’ condition could have been prevented.”

Logistics Firm Admits Guilt after Worker Suffers Neck Injuries

Palletways (UK) Ltd, a Lichfield logistics firm located in Wood End Lane, Fradley, has been ordered to pay fines by Stafford Crown Court after a forklift driver, 60 year old Barry Hill, suffered neck injuries when, while trying to load a computer cabinet onto a truck, it fell on top of him. The accident occurred at Fradley Distribution Park after Mr. Hill discovered that one of the cabinets was rocking on the forks. Mr Hill subsequently got out of the forklift to prevent the cabinet from falling, but it fell forward and hit him on the head which knocked him to the ground. His neck and right wrist were broken and he has not worked since the incident on occurred 22 August 2008.

Following his accident Mr Hill was suffering from a visible head wound, however, the depot manager took him around the site to find help instead of leaving him to rest in the office with a colleague, as he did not know who the first aid people on the site were. A trained first aider did finally provide medical treatment to Mr Hill, however they did not realise how severe his injuries were. An ambulance was not called and Mr Hill was driven by the first aider to the local hospital which lacked an emergency room. Mr Hill was then airlifted to Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham. Mr Hill was in hospital for 6 weeks and 14 weeks in halo traction. To this day still suffers from neck discomfort. Because of the incident he is now partially disabled.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation and discovered that Palletways (UK) never assessed the health and safety risks of moving and loading goods and had failed to supervise employees properly. Furthermore, the company did lacked a system for treating employees who had been involved in an accident and sustained injury.

Palletways (UK) Ltd, admitted guilt to violating Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was ordered to pay a fine of £60,000 and £41,339 costs.

Lyn Spooner, a HSE inspector said that the accident Mr Hill was involved in was entirely preventable and could have left him paralysed or dead. She then went on to say –

“Any company that carries out lifting operations must assess the risks thoroughly, especially the need for proper training and supervision. There is no excuse for failing to do this, especially as free guidance is available from HSE.

“There was also a string of management failings in dealing with Mr Hill when he reported the incident. It was clear that he had suffered a head injury and Palletways (UK) should have treated this as a very serious incident and called an ambulance immediately.”

Healthcare Manufacturer Fined after Worker Loses Thumb

Synergy Health (UK) Ltd  a healthcare manufacturer has been fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,573 by Leyland Magistrates’ Court after a 39-year-old employee at their factory in Chorely trapped his thumb in machinery and lost part of it 27 November 2011 . Following the incident, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an investigation and discovered that the guards on the dry wipes machine that the employee was using were inadequate, in addition to the fact that the worker had not been given proper training.

As the worker was using the machine, he reached into the tunnel that comes out of machine to in order to prevent it from being blocked by incorrectly cut wipes. His hand was subsequently caught in the conveyor belt. The conveyer belt forced the workers thumb against a metal plate and it was severed to the first knuckle. It was found that the company had failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment of the work that he was doing, so they were unaware of the risks his hands faced.

HSE Inspector Christina Goddard stated following the hearing –

“This incident could easily have been avoided if Synergy Health had carried out a proper assessment of the risks and made sure its employees were properly trained.

“The risk of workers hands becoming trapped by moving conveyor belts in well known in the industry and so it is important suitable guards are in place.

“If the guards the company installed following the incident had been there at the time then it is extremely unlikely the employee’s hand would have become trapped.”


Chemical Manufacturing Company Fined after Workers Exposed to Toxic Substances

Endeavour Speciality Chemicals Ltd, a chemical manufacturing company from Daventry, Northamptonshire has been fined by Northampton Magistrates’ Court for exposing its employees to a variety of hazardous chemicals.  A 46-year-old despatch officer who worked for the company developed occupational asthma and rhinitis after she handled numerous toxic substances – used in the process food production – that were categorised as being a health hazard. The former despatch officer now has another job in the firm as she has been rendered unable to work with chemicals any longer.

Employees of the company were expected to manually pour substances into containers to despatch to customers, despite the fact that they were not provided with ventilation or workplace necessary health and safety measures. It was discovered by a Health and Safety Executive investigation that the company had not adequately assessed the dangers of the chemicals they used, or the extent of how it could affect the employees that had been exposed to it, in addition to failing to impose preventative measures

Endeavour Speciality Chemicals Ltd was fined a total of £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,000 after they pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 6(1), and 7(1) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002

James Wright, a HSE inspector, had this to say on the matter –

“The company’s failure to assess the risks, and implement control measures for what was a simple work process, has resulted in an employee suffering years of ill health, and has probably prevented her from ever working with chemicals again.

“The measures that were required to have made this work safe were inexpensive and not difficult to implement. These could have included effective fume cupboards suitable for the work, local exhaust ventilation, good hygiene practices, exposure monitoring and suitable PPE. Companies should ensure they have suitable arrangements in place to manage the risks from the handling of hazardous substances.”

“Every year, thousands of workers are made ill by hazardous substances, contracting lung disease such as asthma, cancer and skin disease such as dermatitis. These diseases cost many millions of pounds each year to industry, to replace the trained worker, to society, in disability allowances and medicines, and individuals, who may lose their jobs.”

Cardiff Building Company Fined after Exposing Workers and Public to Safety Risks

Rimo Construction Ltd, a building company of Vaindre Road, St Mellons, Cardiff, has been fined for failing to follow health and safety regulations and exposing its employees and members of the public to danger while construction work was carried out on a house in Rumney in June 2012. The Health and Safety Exectutive (HSE) has discovered that the employers were working on the roof with the aid of a scaffolding which did not adequately protect them from falling.

On the 28th of June a portion of the scaffolding had been removed, however employees continued working nevertheless. The HSE was alerted by a concerned local resident and an inspector called to the building site to investigate. Rimo Construction was ordered to cease work on the house immediately; however on June 30th employees continued to carry out their work in exactly the same manner. Guard rails and other means of protection should have been implemented to protect the workers from potentially injuring themselves and others.

Subsequently, Rimo Construction was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs after they pleaded guilty to violating Sections 2(1), 3(1) and 33(1)(g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Simon Breen, HSE Inspector, had this to say on the matter –

“The dangers of working at height without adequate edge protection are very clear, yet companies and individuals continue to take risks and cut corners. Rimo Construction was well aware of the precautions it should have been taking, particularly after being served with a Prohibition Notice to stop work on the scaffolds and on the roof. Yet less than 24 hours later the company ignored the risks and the terms of the notice.

Whilst there were no injuries, the workers could have fallen from the scaffolding or roof into the grounds of the neighbouring houses on either side. I hope today’s prosecution serves to remind all companies who expect employees to work at height of their legal duties to properly manage safety, and to provide the necessary protection required to safeguard them and others from falls.”

Farm Equipment Engineering Company Fined After Farmer Suffers Fatal Injuries

McHale Engineering, an international manufacturer of farm equipment based in Co. Mayo in the Republic of Ireland, has been fined £45,000 and ordered to pay £70,000 costs by Shrewsbury Crown Court following an incident where the rotating arms of a defective bale wrapping machine hit the head of a 48-year-old Shropshire farmer and he subsequently died. McHale Engineering Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for when they supplied the faulty machine in 2001.

The farmer, George Stokes, died at Tong Norton Farm in Shifnal on 28 May 2009 after an accident involving the machine. Mr Stokes had been on his own as he prepared to use the bale wrapping machine prior to grass cutting season. His brother later found him slumped over the machine. He was pronounced dead at the scene by ambulance personnel. The HSE carried out an investigation that discovered how the machine’s rotating arms were not designed to switch off in a sufficient amount of time when the safety trip bar is activated; this means that anyone using the machine was still at risk of injury by the machinery even when they activated the safety trip bar.

It is believed that the machine hit Mr Stokes when all of a sudden it began to rotate; it only stopped after it had taken nearly a third of a turn when the safety trip was activated. Mr Stokes suffered fatal head injuries because of the failing safety trip bar.

David Kivlin, a HSE inspector has said that Mr Stokes’ tragic death could well have been avoided if the machine has been designed to stop when once the safety bar was activated. He then added –

“Manufacturers of farm equipment should ensure that they design such equipment so that safety risks are reduced as far as possible for anyone who enters the danger zone of the rotating arms. McHale Engineering failed to do this.”

West Yorkshire Firm Fined after Worker Shatters FInger and Thumb

CCL Label Ltd in Pioneer Way, Castleford, West Yorkshire has been ordered by Leeds Magistrates to pay fines after an employee had his thumb and finger shattered by a printing press on 27 February 2012. Extensive medical treatment was required for 55 year old Derek Shield, of Tingley, after he suffered this horrendous injury such as a skin graft and the necessary pinning his thumb and index finger under a bandage for several months. The incident occurred when Mr Shield’s hand was drawn into the printing press as he was cleaning it.

The company was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation into the incident discovered that the accident could have been avoided if the machine’s dangerous parts had been adequately protected. While he was in the process of cleaning a central impression drum, Mr Shield felt around for any loose or foreign objects as it rotated for the purpose of removing them. Unfortunately, his left hand was drawn into the machine by the nip point.

It was found that a guard covering the nip point of the machine had been removed two years before. There was no safety checks made to ensure that a guard was there before the machine was again used. CCL Label Ltd had failed to take steps to rectify this potential hazard. Subsequently, the company was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £2,141 in costs after they admitted breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

Following the hearing, HSE inspector Paul Newton stated –

“Mr Shield’s injury could have been avoided if there had been an effective guard in place. In addition employees need training in how to clean machinery safely. Companies should ensure there are regular checks on machine guards and that employees are properly supervised to ensure unsafe work practices do not develop.

“Unguarded or poorly guarded machinery is the cause of many injuries in workplaces across the country. In 2010/11 over 1,000 people were seriously injured from contact with dangerous moving parts of machines.

“Employees should not be exposed to risks to their safety through their everyday work.”


Construction Company Fined after Unsafe Work Practices

Peak Construction (London) Ltd, of Takeley Road, Bambers Green, Takeley in Essex – a building firm – endangered the lives of its workers and residents in the vicinity of Bristol city centre after repeatedly ignoring warnings about the safety of their redevelopment project. The company was in the middle converting the upper floors of Riverside House in Welsh Back to residential accommodation with the addition of two new timber framed floors on top of the building.

Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive visited the site six times between August and October 2011 after concerns were raised by members of the public about work practices that seemed unsafe. On every occasion the HSE inspectors found numerous safety concerns regarding the work practice safety of the company which related to working unsafely from a height, utilising a mobile elevating work platform without the wearing of worker harnesses, no edge protection to prevent workers from falling, negligent construction of scaffolding and a hazard with building materials falling from the roof.

Furthermore, numerous fire risks were identified by inspectors, such as a lack of fire plan, no way of raising an alarm if there was a fire, no fire extinguishers, no emergency escape routes and the use of an open flame gas torch in the timber roof with no fire safety protocols in place. The HSE served seven Prohibition Notices for work to cease with immediate effect, however some hazardous practices continued nonetheless.

Peak Construction (London) Ltd, admitted guilt for breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and Regulation 38 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 for failing to implement adequate health and safety regulations, and for permitting hazardous practices to continue. The company was ordered to pay fines that totalled £10,000 and also ordered to pay £4,629 in costs by Bristol Magistrates.

HSE Inspector, Steve Frain, had this to say after the hearing –

“Right from the start of the job, the company was warned about its health and safety performance and individual directors were made aware of the initial failings we identified at the site.

“The number of follow-up inspections and interventions we made in this case went far beyond what would normally be required. The same risks were clearly pointed out at each inspection, yet still the company failed to take sufficient action.

“Falls from height are the single most significant cause of death or serious injury within the construction industry and timber frame construction methods pose a greatly increased fire safety risk that requires high standards of management and control throughout a project.

“Although there was no fire on this occasion, a fire on this site carried a high risk of serious injury to the workforce and members of the public.

“These are not minor technical breaches of the law. They show a failure of leadership across the company which led to a high risk of significant injuries.”