Monthly Archives: April 2012

Company Fined after Worker Suffers Electric Shock

Tecvac, a coating and treatment company that has a plant situated in Swavesey, Cambridgeshire, has been ordered to pay fines by Cambridge Magistrates’ Court for breaching health and safety laws. The company was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following an incident where a 45-year-old employee suffered an electric shock on 28 July last year.  The employee, Derek Offord who is from Sawston, was working as a machine operator at the company’s plant in Buckingway at the time.

The electric shock occurred while Mr Offord was checking new cables on a hardening machine that had received maintenance not long before the incident. He subsequently suffered open wounds on his forearm and left palm in addition to burns to his left arm and knee as a result. He had to stay in hospital for 12 days for treatment and was unable to work for a further four months. A HSE investigation discovered that Tecvac had did not have sufficient health and safety rules implemented in relation to the machine he operated with regards to how to properly use it and how to maintain electrical systems.

Tecvac Limited of Lodge Bank Works, Lord Street, Bury, Lancashire was fined £3,500 and ordered to pay £5,382.70 in costs after pleading guilty to violating Regulation 4(3) of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989.

Alison Ashworth, HSE Inspector, had this to say following the hearing –

“Work with or near electricity is dangerous. This incident could have been prevented if the company had identified the risk and acted to control it. They could have prevented access to the live parts of the cables, insulated them or ensured that stored electrical energy had been discharged.

“HSE will not hesitate to take action where there is the risk of serious harm to people at work.”

Egg Company Prescuted for Worker Who Severed Fingers

Bumble Hole Foods Ltd, a Worcestershire egg company, has been fined by Redditch Magistrates’ Court following an incident in which a worker who was cleaning a drain on a production line severed two fingers 26 August 2010 . The 25 year-old employee lost a fraction of his index and middle fingers on his right hand when trying to clean around a heavy duty blade at the factory located in Fockbury, Bromsgrove.

An investigation conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered that the risks of this task had not been sufficiently evaluated by employers and also that employees were exposed to dangerous moving parts while the blade was running. Due to a similar accident that occurred in 2008, Bumble Hole Foods Ltd were already aware of the risks. The HSE also found that the training for this work was performed by employees that were not permitted to train others.

Bumble Hole Foods Ltd was fined £13,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,303  following an admission of guilt for violating Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

Christopher Gregory, a HSE inspector said –

“This incident was entirely foreseeable and easily preventable. The risks of cleaning around the drain had not been adequately assessed or controlled so unfortunately, a much larger price has been paid, not least by their employee.

“This case shows the importance of learning from mistakes and ensuring that formal advice from the HSE is not ignored. Employers have a duty to act on their findings. If Bumble Hole Foods had taken prompt action after the previous incident, this could so easily have been avoided.”

Engineering Firm Fined after Worker is Impaled

Henry Williams Group Limited, Darlington engineering firm, was today ordered to pay fines of £8,000 and costs of £7,424.80 by Darlington Magistrates’ Court for an incident where a 42 year old delivery driver was injured severely because of a steel bar penetrating his chest on 19 August 2008. The incident occurred when Jason Ripley, from Darlington, was delivering timber to the company in the town’s Dodsworth Street.

An employee of Henry Williams Group Limited had left open a horizontal swing barrier on the site – which was made up of a six metre long, 60mm diameter steel tube – so that Mr Ripley would have easy access to the unloading point. He then reversed his lorry through the open barrier so that timber on the left side could be unloaded. He then intended to drive back past the gate to turn the vehicle around and return to unload goods from the other side.

However, the view of the open barrier had been obscured and he did not realise that the horizontal bar had partially swung back into the carriage way. The bar subsequently hit the bonnet, broke through the windscreen of the lorry and impaled Mr Ripley through the chest.

The tube went through the right side of his chest, smashed three ribs and caused one of his lungs to be damaged. The pole caused a 3-4 inch diameter exit wound in his back. Mr Ripley was airlifted to hospital with part of the barrier still embedded in his chest after he was cut free by fire fighters. He was unable to work for ten weeks however he has no fully recovered from his injuries.

The investigation carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Henry Williams Group Ltd had had not adequately assessed the risks involved with vehicles driving on and off the site in addition to the fact that there was no way of keeping the swing barrier in the open position securely.

HSE Inspector Jonathan Wills stated –

“Mr Ripley was in an horrific incident and the real tragedy is this incident could have so easily been avoided. If the barrier had been secured when it was opened, it would not have been left in such a way that the driver was unable to see it.

“Every year a significant number of people are killed in incidents involving vehicles in the workplace and many more people are injured.

“Better planning, training and awareness and the appropriate use of vehicles would avoid many of these incidents and this case should act as a timely reminder to companies of the need to assess the significant risks associated with the movement of vehicles on site.”

Cardiff Cargo Company Fined after Worker’s Leg Amputated

Cargo Services (UK) Limited, a Cardiff-based cargo company has been ordered to pay fines by Cardiff Crown Court following an incident where a lorry driver, Robert Deverell, was left in need of a leg amputation after a forklift truck hit him. Mr Deverall from Caerphilly was at the Cardiff Docks where a forklift truck owned and operated by the company Cargo Services (UK) Limited was loading his lorry with 18m steel beams on 18 June 2010.

As Mr Deverell waited for the final beams to be put in his lorry, he approached the forklift truck. When he came to the side of the truck, the forklift reversed. It then struck Mr Deverall and ran over his right leg which was then amputated from the knee down. He also sustained a fractured wrist in the accident and can no longer work for Dyfed Steels Ltd in Llanelli, his own employers.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation into the incident and discovered there was not adequate segregation to keep visiting drivers separated forklift trucks that are operating. Furthermore, it was discovered that the forklift truck’s reversing alarm and horn were not working correctly. By examining maintenance records for the truck, it the HSE found that the alarm and horn had been an issue for over four years.

Cargo Services (UK) Limited was fined £110,000 and ordered to pay costs of £60,246.18 after being found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.Following the hearing Hugh Emment, a HSE Inspector, said that workplace transport injuries are still too common and this one in particular highlights the importance of keeping operating forklift trucks away from people. He then stated –

“Employers should ensure that they have a robust safe system of work to ensure pedestrians, including visiting drivers, are kept at a safe distance from forklift trucks that are being operated.”