Category Archives: Work Safety

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

Blacburn Construction Firm Fined for Basic Health and Safety Failings

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.”

Metal Components Firm is Fined for Head Injury

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.”

Bedford Food Company Fined For Employee Fall

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.

Six Consturction Sites Closed after HSE Safety Checks

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.”

West Midlands Company Fined after Worker Sustains Head Injuries

H&E Knowles (Lye) Limited, a West Midlands company in Waterfall Lane, Cradley Heath , has been ordered by Dudley and Halesowen magistrates to pay fines after a worker sustained serious head injuries because of a pneumatic metal press. Maintenance engineer, Wayne Hill, 42, of Lye, Stourbridge, was in the midst of repairing the press when suddenly it started working again and it had begun to crush his head. The press had him trapped for ten minutes before he was set free by colleagues. He suffered multiple severe injuries – he broke his nose and jaw, he ripped off his upper lip and his tongue was completely bitten through. In addition to these horrific injuries, Mr Hill also suffered lacerations to the back of his head and neck, arm muscle damage, excruciating neck pain and his left side was left bruised and scratched.

Much reconstructive surgery was necessary for Mr Hill. Furthermore, his upper lip and nose have increased sensitivity in addition to pain in his teeth and shoulder scarring suffered. Counselling was also necessary after Mr Hill started suffering emotionally with nightmares and flashbacks of the incident. He was rendered unable to work for nearly five months but now works at the company again. An investigation into the incident was conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and it discovered that the machine had a defective interlocking guard.

The press is used to take a sheet of metal and mould it into a wheelbarrow body and should not be able to work correctly if the door is open. In the instance of Mr Hill, a fault with the machine meant the it did not detect an open door. Furthermore, it was found that the machine was created and built by the company 25 years ago. As a result, there are no technical drawings or any other documentation available and an adequate risk assessment had never been completed on the machine. The machine broke down on a regular basis and maintenance staff did not have access to proper instructions with regards to fixing it.

H&E Knowles (Lye) admitted guilt to violating Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was ordered to pay a fine of £18,000 with £7,220 costs.

Following the hearing, John Glynn, a HSE inspector said:

“Mr Hill was extremely lucky not to have lost his life in this entirely preventable incident. The company should have provided safe equipment and a safe system of work for its staff. Instead, it failed almost entirely to comply with health and safety legislation in that it designed, built and operated a dangerous piece of machinery.

“There was a grossly inefficient assessment of risk, inadequate controls and a lack of supervisory oversight that exposed staff to terrible risks and left a man with horrific injuries.”

Essex Plumber Receives Prison Sentence for Endangering Family

Essex plumber, Lee Lawrence, has received a twelve-month suspended prison sentence and 180 hours of unpaid community service from Colchester Magistrates’ Court after his firm, Amber Plumbing Solutions, fitted a dangerous boiler in what was to be a child’s bedroom in a house in Clacton-On-Sea. Gas Safe and the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) conducted a joint investigation that concluded in Lee Lawrence being charged with three violations of gas safety regulations.

The firm had before carried out bathroom work for the household and they were subsequently asked to return to perform gas work. This involved installing a gas cooker in the kitchen and a boiler in a bedroom. After the boiler’s connection in July it frequently cut out, which led to the family contacting a Gas Safe registered engineer. This engineer then alerted Gas Safe and HSE as he as so concerned about the safety of this boiler.

Several defects were found with the work carried out by the Amber Plumbing Solutions by a Gas Safe regional investigations officer. HSE also found that the advertising flyers advertising the firm and also their website had the Gas Safe logo and falsely stated that the firm was a Gas Safe registered company.

Lee Lawrence was found guilty of two violations of Regulation 3 (7) of the Gas Safe (Installation & use Regulations) 1998 and breaching Regulation 4 of the Gas Safety regulations. He was fined £5,400 in compensation to the householder and £2,385 costs in combination with his suspended prison sentence and hours of unpaid community service.

Following the hearing Edward Crick, a HSE Inspector, said that Mr Lawrence’s actions could have had far more serious consequences and that him falsely claiming to be a member of the Gas Safe Register is a serious offence. He then stated –

“Any person having work done on gas appliances or pipework should thoroughly check the credentials of the individual doing the job. A registered Gas Safe engineer will be delighted to give you their registration number and this can be checked immediately on line or over the phone. HSE will take robust action against those who flout the regulations.”

Three Companies fined for the Fall of Two Construction Workers

Three companies have been fined £232,000 in fines and costs by Exeter Crown Court after a platform that two employees of were working on in an Exeter building site collapsed and fell down a lift shaft for four storeys, causing them to sustain severe injuries in February 2008. The incident occurred in a site where new student accommodation is being built at what used to be the Elmfield Nursery in New North Road.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought the case to the attention of the court. Cowlin Construction Ltd ordered to pay £85,000 in fines and £20,000 in costs by the court . Prestoplan Ltd, ordered to pay £50,000 and £20,000 towards costs and Somerset Carpenters Ltd, the labourer suppliers, ordered to pay £35,000 fines with £22,000 costs.

Somerset Carpenters had previously been served with a prohibition notice by the HSE after they inspected the site. This should have put a halt to work at the construction site until preventative measures had been put in place to stop workers from potentially falling down the lift shaft. Following this, a wooden platform was built over the shaft but a fortnight later it collapsed and caused Ricki Slocombe (35) and Matthew Blackmore (29), both from Bridgwater, to fall to the bottom floor.

Mr Blackmore broke his back and Mr Slocombe broke both his legs and was forced to use a wheelchair for several months and he has been unable to work since this incident occurred.

HSE inspector, Simon Chilcott said that this terrifying accident could have easily led to the deaths of the two men. He added –

“Contractors and employers must make sure they have taken all reasonable measures to provide a safe environment for workers to work in and that any temporary structures are secure.”

Cheltenham Retailer and Contractor Prosecuted after Asbestos Incident

Cheltenham contractor, Simon Cooper, and retailer, Hutchinson HiFi and Vision Ltd, have been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following an incident where a construction worker was exposed to asbestos while working on a refurbishment project. Simon Cooper was employed by Hutchinson HiFi and Vision Ltd in February 2010 to refurbish an empty shop unit in Cheltenham High Street, which involved replacing a suspended ceiling.

Simon Cooper did not make sure that an asbestos survey was carried out before refurbishments began.  Resultantly, the construction site workers, including Matthew Thompson 28, from Cheltenham, were forced to remove 85m of asbestos insulating board over two days without the required controls or any sufficient protection.

It was also found that Hutchinson HiFi and Vision Ltd did not inform Mr Cooper about the asbestos in the building. A demolition and refurbishment survey should have been carried piror out and the results made provided to Mr Cooper.

In Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court, Hutchinson HiFi & Vision Ltd was fined £3,500 and ordered to pay £1,836 in costs after they pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 10 (1) (b) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007. Simon Cooper admitted guilt to violating Regulation 5 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and was ordered to pay fines of £600 in addition to £800 in costs.

Following the hearing, Simon Chilcott, a HSE inspector, said:

“As a result of the failings of Simon Cooper and Hutchinson HiFi and Vision, people were unnecessarily exposed to asbestos. This incident could have been avoided if the retailer had provided information on the presence of asbestos in the building and Mr Cooper had ensured he had seen a demolition and refurbishment survey before commencing the renovation work.

“The risks of asbestos are well known in the construction industry as are the controls required in dealing with it. Exposure to asbestos can have fatal or serious long term health consequences and, as such, every precaution must be taken to minimise any risks when working on buildings.”

Car Parts Manufacturer Prosecuted by HSE

Auto-Plas (International) Ltd, a car parts manufacturer based in Essex, has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for safety failings following an employee falling through a mezzanine floor at a factory in Hawkwell on 17 May last year. The employee of Auto-Plas, who does not want to be named, sustained a hand injury that required stitches and caused him to be unable to work for two weeks afterwards.

The employee had been asked to take apart a mezzanine floor in a production area at Benchmark Doors Ltd – Auto-Plas’s sister company. He then fell through a gap in the floor and landed in the level below. He subsequently hit his head off the floor and cut his hand trying to break his fall.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation and found that there had been no risk assessment done for the work that was carried out. In addition, the employee was in no way protected while he was working at height.

Auto-Plas (International) Ltd was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £2502.45 in costs by Southend Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to violating Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was also requested that the firm pay £200 compensation to the employee who was injured in addition to a £15 victim surcharge.

HSE Inspector Keith Waller had this to say following the hearing –

“This incident was entirely preventable. With some simple planning, the work could have been done from the floor below and a risk assessment for the task should have been completed to assess dangers and identify safety measures.

“The employee suffered painful injuries as a result of a lack of planning and respect for health and safety rules. Working at height is dangerous and employers must ensure they plan ahead to protect their staff.”

“HSE will not hesitate to prosecute those who put lives at risk.”

More than 1,300 falls from height that resulted in injury were reported in 2010 – 2011.

HSE Statistics for Fatal Work Injuries Remain Largely Unchanged

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has released statistics reveal a lack of change in the amount of workers fatally injured in Britain last year. It has been found that 173 workers were killed, which is two workers down from the year before – a rate of 0.6 per 100,000 workers. This data reflects the number of deaths that occurred from April 2011 to March 2012.

The HSE Chair, Judith Hackitt, said that although Britain’s workplace death and injuries are among the lowest levels in Europe and appear to be on a downward trend, it still must be remembered that each death is a tragic occurrence – they must be thought of in terms of the lives lost and not merely statistics. She then stated –

“We want employers to focus on the real risks that continue to cause death and serious injury. HSE is working very hard to make it easier for people to understand what they need to do and to focus on the real priorities. Protecting people from death and serious injury at work should be at the heart of what we all do.”

Rate of industrial death my sector –

  • Construction industry – 49 workers killed – a rate of 2.3 deaths per 100,000 workers
  • Agriculture – 33 deaths – a rate of 9.7 deaths per 100,000 workers
  • Waste and Recycling – Five deaths – a rate of 4.1 deaths per 100,000 workers

National figures:

  • England – 130 deaths – a rate of 0.5 deaths per 100,000 workers
  • Scotland – 20 deaths – a rate of 0.8 deaths per 100,000 workers
  • Wales – 18 deaths – a rate of 1.4 deaths per 100,000 workers