Hall Isherwood Ltd, a Blackburn firm, has been fined by South Ribble Magistrates’ Court after work was carried out on a primary school roof without the implementation of basic safety measures on 31 January. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector was walking past the Clayton le Woods Primary School, near Chorley, when he saw that four men were carrying out work on the roof.
The men had been employed for painting work and replacing slates on one side of a sloping roof at the school on Back Lane in Clayton le Woods. The only way to access the roof was with an unsecured ladder. Furthermore, there was no safety equipment being used, not even scaffolding to stop any of the men from falling from a height and potentially sustaining a serious injury, even though one of the men was working close to the edge of the roof – next to a potential drop of fifteen feet.
Straight away a Prohibition Notice was served by the inspector and the men were ordered to cease working on the roof until the proper safety measures were implemented. Hall Isherwood Ltd was prosecuted by the HSE for two violations of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company was then ordered to pay fines of £750 in addition to £1,581 in prosecution costs.
HSE Inspector Anthony Polec stated following the hearing –
“This was a large project taking place over several days. Scaffolding or other safety equipment should therefore have been used to ensure the work could be carried out safely.
“As the principal contractor on the site, Hall Isherwood was responsible for making sure lives weren’t put at risk. However, it allowed the workers to use an unstable ladder to reach the roof and there were no safety measures in place once they were on top of the building.
“Falls from height are responsible for several deaths on UK construction sites every year and it’s only luck that no one was injured in this instance.”
Somerset construction company, A.R. Berry Design and Build Ltd, has been £5000 and ordered to pay £8000 in costs by Westminster Magistrates’ Court for an incident where a 28-year-old-worker fell off a roof he was working on in south-west London on 18 January 2011. At the time, the worker, Wayne Bird, had been working building on the Radius Park in Feltham, cleaning dead leaves from the gulleys. The fall occurred when Mr Bird stepped on a fragile skylight and it subsequently broke. He then fell six metres, landing on the concrete floor below.
An investigation was conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) who then prosecuted A.R Berry for the company’s failure in keeping their employees safe. Mr Bird sustained numerous injuries, including fractures and damaged tendons in his left knee and right arm, a broken nose and the loss of several teeth. He has lost the ability to straighten his right arm or turn his elbow. He is still receiving medical treatment in addition to treatment for the psychological impact the fall has had on him as a consequence. He has been rendered unable to work because of the incident.
The HSE’s investigation discovered that the company did not adequately plan the work that was being carried out and also failed to provide training to their employees who worked at a height. The roof lacked edge protection and there were no harness provided to workers. A.R. Berry Design and Build Ltd admitted guilt to violating Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Zahir Agha, said that are many steps that can be taken to minimise the risk of falling from a height present in working in construction and the fact that A.R. Berry Design and Build did not implement any of these safety measures has ruined a young man’s life. He then added –
“By planning the work properly, giving their workers sufficient training and monitoring activity, this fall could have been prevented. A.R. Berry should have ensured staff had the right personal protective equipment and been trained in its use.
“There is a much guidance available on working at height and support for firms to assess risks and safely plan work.
Wyman-Gordon Ltd, a manufacturing company which produces metal components has been ordered by Lincoln Magistrates’ Court to pay fines following the serious injury of a young employee at one at its factory at the Tower Works site on Spa Road in Lincoln on 20 October 2010. The agency worker, who does not wish to be name, is twenty years old. He fractured his skull and sustained serious facial injuries when in the middle of working with a hand-held grinder, the grinding wheel broke. It came loose from the grinder, broke through his visor and hit his face. After the incident the man had to undergo extensive reconstructive surgery, but not before having to go through a five-hour operation for the purpose of removing a bone that was touching his brain. He has subsequently returned to work.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation and discovered that this particular employee had not been adequately trained in how to correctly and safely use the hand-held grinder and what precautions should be taken when the grinding wheels needs to be changed. As a result, the grinding wheel that he had changed was more than likely defective before he used it. The employee may have noticed this defect if he had been properly trained before using the grinder. It was also found that the young agency worker had not been supervised when carrying out this work.
Wyman-Gordon Ltd located in Wiggin Works, Holmer Road, Hereford, was fined £16,500 and ordered it to pay full costs of £6,178 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
HSE inspector, Scott Wynne stated following the hearing:
“It is vital that workers who use hand-held grinders get appropriate training in their safe use and in how to change the grinding wheels properly. Most importantly operators need to know how to identify defects.
“Had this worker undergone such training, he may have been able to identify the defective wheel prior to using it.
“This was a preventable incident. Wyman-Gordon Ltd paid insufficient heed to the safety of this worker. As a result, a young man was left with a horrific head injury. He was extremely lucky to escape with his life.”
European Oat Millers Ltd, a Bedford grain milling company in Mile Road has been prosecuted by Bedford Magistrates’ Court after a an employee fell and was injured during a night shift. The 45 year old employee, Mark Askham, of Putnoe, Bedford was climbing pipework to unblock a feed pipe when he fell nearly three metres on to the concrete ground. Mr Askham sustained broken ribs, cuts and bruising in the accident which occurred on 26 February 2011.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and discovered that it could have been prevented if the company had basic safety measures to protect workers from falling while working at a height. In the the basement of the nine-storey mill Mr Askham had located a blockage to a pipe. There were no ladder or platform available, so Mr Askham climbed on pipework close to him and sat on one of the pipes in order to get to the blockage. He subsequently lost his balance and fell three metres, hitting pipes below prior to hitting the ground.
European Oat Millers Ltd admitted guilt to violating Regulation 4 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company was ordered to pay a fine of £12,000 and £3,712 in costs.
HSE Inspector Emma Rowlands had this to say on the matter –
“This incident was entirely preventable. Mr Askham’s injuries could have been far more serious than they were. European Oat Millers Ltd had made a commitment some years earlier to review all work at height activities yet there was no evidence that had been carried out.
“You do not have to fall from a great height to either lose or ruin your life. Work at height remains one of the most significant causes of fatalities and major injuries among employees.
“Employers who put people at risk of serious injury or illness can expect to face enforcement action and for the worst offences criminal prosecution through the courts.”
In 2010/11 there were 775 falls from over 2 metres height according to HSE.
Construction works at six sites in Bradford has been ordered to cease due to health and safety breaches found by a Health and Safety Executive investigation carried out in relation to an initiative focusing on the safety of the construction industry. In the first week of September 61 sites in West and South Yorkshire were investigated. Although most had adequate health and safety measures in place, six small construction sites in Bradford district failed to live up to these standards.
Three of the sites were served HSE Prohibition Notices by HSE inspectors when they discovered that the lives of the workers were being put at risk due to unsafe work practices, poorly planned execution of work and inadequate scaffolding measures. The remaining three buildings sites were served notices for other matters related to safety. This HSE campaign for building site inspection was carried out in response to the fact that death from a height is a continuous occurrence in this industry. 49 workers died on UK construction sites in the last year and falling from height is the most common cause of death.
Principal Inspector for construction in the Yorkshire region for the HSE, David Stewart, had this to say on the matter –
“Whilst the initiative was primarily to raise awareness of the problem of unsafe working practices, it is of concern that work at height was being undertaken in a dangerous manner on three sites.
“Straightforward practical precautions are well known in the industry. Safe access equipment is readily available for purchase or hire and there is no excuse for workers, and the self employed, to put themselves in a position of danger when working at height.
“There was a marginal, though still welcome, improvement for this inspection activity on previous ones in terms of the ratio of good to poor performances but there is no reason to be complacent.
“HSE will continue to maintain a strong enforcement profile where there is blatant disregard to safe working practice.”