Monthly Archives: February 2012

Montracon Factory Fined after Death of 59-Year-Old Driver

Ronald Wood, a 59 year old driver for a Montracon factory in East Yorkshire, died following an incident where a six-metre steel machine was dislodged from overhead brackets and landed on top of him. The steel vacuum lifter, which weighed two thirds of a tonne, struck Mr Wood, who was from Holme-on-Spalding-Moor, after a trailer that was being towed from the factory knocked it from its mountings. An investigation carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after the fatal accident found several safety failures at the Montracon premises.

At the time of the accident, Mr Wood had been stood beneath the steel lifter with a co-worker when the large trailer that was being towed out of the factory knocked off the  brackets which had been keeping the machine in place. This impact dislodged it and it fell and landed on top of Mr Wood. His co-worker was able to get away with only a minor injury. Mr Wood died in hospital died in hospital later that day.

Montracon Ltd of South Yorkshire was fined a total of £100,000 and ordered to pay £33,030 in costs by Hull Crown Court after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to two violations of Health and Safety legislation.

Following the hearing, the investigating HSE inspector, Steven Kay said that basic safety failings had led to a tragic and unnecessary death. He went on to say that if Montracon had adequately controlled the movement of the trailers in the area of the workshop, then they would have realised the safety risks, however it had failed to do this. Mr Kay then stated –

“Work changes had also taken place in the factory which should have led the firm to re-think the risks, but it did not. Whenever work activity changes, then risks must be reassessed.

“Montracon also failed to follow up several minor incidents which, had they been investigated, could have led to action to prevent this tragedy. All employers need to have a system to record near misses and investigate them. The resulting information could prevent loss of life.”

Tour Bus operator Prosecuted after Mechanical Engineer Sustains Injuries

The Original London Sightseeing Tour Limited, a tour bus operator, has been ordered to pay fines by Westminster Magistrates’ Court after an incident where a 58 year old mechanical engineer sustained severe injuries when he was working underneath one of their buses on 21 October 2009. The man, who does not wish to be named, was working on reseating an airbag on one of the firm’s open topped buses at a bus depot in Essex. The bus was being held upon its axles by wooden blocks and column vehicle lifts while it was raised two feet off the ground.

The employee was being assisted by a co-worker who was helping him to raise and lower the bus. Unfortunately, the axle dropped onto the mechanic which subsequently broke his pelvis and several ribs when one of the wooden blocks collapsed. The man was left in hospital for two weeks, was rendered unable to work for six months and still suffers great pain to this day as a result.

The company was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for not preventing the incident. The HSE conducted investigation discovered that risk assessments for the bus depot site were not adequately reviewed, and site engineers had not been involved in the process of risk assessment. If the company had taken proper precautions, then another set of vehicle lifts available at the time of the incident could have been used instead or the tri-axle buses could have been taken to another depot for reparation.

The Original London Sightseeing Tour Limited was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was ordered to pay fines of £10,500 in addition to costs of £10,000. HSE Inspector, Jane Wolfenden had this to say about the incident –

“The use of wooden blocks in this way could easily have resulted in a fatality. It was foreseeable that the blocks were likely to give way, putting the lives of employees at risk. Had the company carried out an effective risk assessment that involved site engineers, this entirely preventable incident could have been avoided.”

Air Conditioning Manufacturer Fined after Worker Damages Finger

Eaton Williams Group Ltd – which trades under the name of Colman Moducel, an air conditioning manufacturer, has been fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £4,105 costs by Fenton Magistrates’ Court after an incident in its Stoke-on-Trent factory where a 41 year-old  employee’s fingertip was cut off by a circular saw. The company was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after the accident occurred at its factory in Oldfields Business Park, Birrell Street, Fenton on 16 February 2011.

The employee, who wishes not to be named, was trimming metal parts for a louvred screen with the saw when his middle finger touched the blade and the tip was cut off. Doctors were able to rectify the problem with his finger; however he has subsequently been permanently scarred as a result.

The investigation conducted by the HSE’s into the accident revealed that that there was a hazardous system in place for working with the saw. The top guard was not positioned correctly, furthermore, basic protection items like jigs and push sticks were not being utilised. Furthermore, adequate information, instructions, training or supervision in operating the saw had not be provided for the workers .The investigation also discovered that the machine’s emergency stop button was not functioning and blade continued to spin after it should have stopped because of the brake being ineffective.

Following the hearing, David Kivlin, a HSE inspector stated that incident never would have occurred if the company had assessed the risks of using the circular saw. He went on to say –

“Although the company had completed a risk assessment, it did not cover all the operations being carried out by its employees. A simple assessment of these additional tasks would have identified the need to provide protection devices in addition to the top guard.

“Companies must also make sure that all safety features, especially emergency stops, work properly on these potentially dangerous machines.

“HSE provides free guidance on the operation of circular saws, which specifically covers the issues of guarding and additional protection devices, and explains the need to provide suitable training, instruction and supervision.”



Chair of HSE Visits Top Tier Oil Refinery in Cheshire

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Chair, Judith Hackitt, visited a Cheshire oil refinery Tuesday 31 January in order to illustrate what the correct approach to health and safety looks like. Ms Hackitt visited the Stanlow Oil Refinery in Ellesmere Port and met apprentices who are currently in training to work in the chemical and oil industries. She praised the refinery for its efforts in successfully training young people take part in an industry role that can bring with it a great deal of hazard.

Ms Hackitt was an employee in the chemical industry for over 30 years. She stressed the fundamental importance of health and safety and having an understanding the risks of what can often be a dangerous profession. She then went on to say –

“Teaching people the right way to do a job is what apprentice training is about – they learn how to do it safely and efficiently.

“All too often it’s the nonsense stories, such as health and safety stopping children playing with conkers or people having street parties, which get reported and health and safety gets a bad name.

“It’s great to see such a good example of integrated training which will ensure that these apprentices understand the risks they will face and how to do their job safely.

“Working in a major hazard environment is all about respecting the nature of the processes but getting on with the job.”

Under the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations 1999, the Stanlow oil refinery is categorised as a ‘top tier’ site and was taken over by Essar Oil last year. Before visiting the training centre at the site, Ms Hackitt visited TTE Training Ltd in Ellesmere Port. TTE was established 1990 in association with the refinery in order to give training for the chemical, oil and other industries. There is now a  three-year apprenticeship schemes for people who have an interest in working in the industry.

The Health, Safety and Environment Manager at Essar, Mike Brown,  stated –

“Having competent people is a prerequisite for the safe operation of a top-tier site like Stanlow.

“The TTE apprenticeship scheme, which we are very proud of, contributes to this by developing young people to be ready to face the challenges of their new job.”