Monthly Archives: April 2013

Wirral Chemical Firm Prosecuted for Violating Health and Safety Regulations

SAFC Hitech, a Wirral chemical firm, was ordered to pay fines of £120k by Liverpool crown court for violating health and safety regulations following an incident where a 45 year old employee from Kirkby was severely burned by a fireball after an explosion. The employee, Leslie jones, sustained injuries so severe that doctors induced a seven-week coma to aid him in recovering sufficiently from the accident that occurred on February 28 last year.

Employees alerted emergency service to come to SAFC Hitech’s Bromborough base following reports of a chemical spill. After a batch of the volatile chemical trimethylindium (or TMI) exploded, Mr Jones was suddenly caught in a fireball. His co-workers hurried to aid him and Mr Jones was covered in flames. He was then brought to a specialist burns unit in Whiston hospital and put in a coma. Mr Jones had to stay in hospital for nearly three months. To this day he still has severe burns on his face, right arm and upper body and finds it difficult to move.

Following an investigation into the accident, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the chemical firm. They were charged for not performing an adequate risk assessment in relation to the waste generated by the TMI purification process, insufficient supervision and monitoring of employees and failures in ensuring their safety. Simon Parrington of the HSE said that said the company simply did not have a safe system of work and this led to the injuries suffered by Mr Jones which have ultimately left him “substantially cosmetically blemished”.

SAFC Hitech admitted to allowing the unsafe work practices that were carried out by their employees when working with TMI and were remorseful for Mr Jones’s injuries. The company was fined £120k and ordered to pay £13,328 costs after pleading guilty to single violations of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 and the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Paint Company Fined £12,000 After Worker is Injured

Thermaset Ltd, a paint company situated in Tamworth, has been ordered to pay fines of £12,000 by Stafford Magistrates’ Court following an accident where a 21-year-old worker suffered an avoidable arm injury. Mark Capewell’s  arm was dragged into machinery while he was working at the company’s Lichfield Road Industrial Estate site. He sustained serious crush injuries in the accident that occurred on June 2011 and he required intensive physiotherapy. Following the incident he returned to work briefly, however he had to leave again as he still suffers from arm pain and headaches. Thermaset Ltd was fined for failing to implement adequate health and safety regulations.

Mr Capewell had been working for the company for 6 months before the incident occurred. On the day of the accident he was told to remove some product stuck to the machine rollers just before finishing his shift. He was given a handheld scarper to aid this work, however it did not work. He then decided to do it by hand and he reached into the machine – however, the product was hot and wet so it subsequently stuck to his glove and dragged his arm into the roller.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation that discovered that blockages frequently occurred on the extruder machines; however, workers were not provided with a safe system of removing these blockages, nor were they provided with the the basic risk assessment for the extruders. Mr Capewell had been shadowing an experienced staff member beforehand to learn learn the process, however no formal training was provided.

Matt Lea, a HSE inspector said that the company have improved their safety measures since the incident occurred. He then stated –

“It has guarded the machines appropriately, has a documented safe system of work and has ensured that all operatives are suitably trained.”

But he added: “If these safeguards had been in place before Mr Capewell suffered a painful injury, the accident could easily have been prevented.”

Two Companies fined £60,000 after Two Employees were Seriously Injured

After serious injuries were sustained by two rail workers in an accident in Whitemoor railway yard, a rail firm and construction company have been fined £60,000. In 2009, the two were repairing a machine for redistributing ballast along the railway line when their accident occurred. The two men were injured after supporting an internal part of the ballast regulator with a hydraulic car jack that should not have been used. The car jack subsequently collapsed and crushed one of the employees. The man, who was an employee of Swietelsky Construction, sustained multiple facial fractures and to this day still suffers from a brain injury because of it. The other man, a Babcock rail employee, suffered injury to his left eye and face.

After the accident the Office of Rail Regulation were called in to investigate and was followed by a Cambridge Crown Court where the rail firm and construction company were fined. The Court learned that Babcock Rail and Swieteslsky Construction had failed to carry out necessary risk assessment protocols for the replacement of wear plates inside the ballast regulator, which is a piece of equipment that can be hazardous and potentially collapse and crush a worker if not assessed correctly. It was also learned that employees were not sufficiently trained and briefed about how to safely replace the wear plates. Because of this, employees were forced to figure out how to carry out this work themselves, which exposed them to unnecessary risks.

Babcock Rail and Swieteslsky Construction were charged under sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Swietelsky Construction pleaded guilty at a hearing at Cambridge Crown Court in October 5. Babcock Rail pleaded guilty in January.

The Orr’s principle inspector for south east Railway Safety, Tom Wake, said on the matter: “No employee should ever be set to work on dangerous machinery without appropriate support and training. In this instance on 25 March 2009 Swietelsky Construction and Babcock Rail caused two rail workers to suffer serious head injuries at the Whitemoor rail depot because of poor planning and lack of employee training. The sentence passed today demonstrates how seriously the court considers these criminal breaches of health and safety law. ORR will keep pressing the industry to ensure the safety of those working on Britain’s railways bringing criminal prosecutions where necessary.”

Babcock Rail and Swieteslsky Construction were fined a total of £29,728 in costs.

Lincoln Man Loses Arm in Recycling Plant Accident

A man in Lincoln has lost his arm in an incident at a recycling plant in Scunthorpe due to the failure of his employers to implement adequate health and safety measures. The man, who was 23 at the time of the incident, had his arm severed at the shoulder on March 8, 2011 after attempting to clear a blockage on a conveyer, which is a piece of a metal sorting line.

The man, who worked at a picking station, was busy with his work – which involved taking pieces of copper off the conveyer – when he discovered that something was caught. He attempted to clear the blockage with the use of a stick, common practice at the plant, but his right arm was caught by the machine.

The man was hospitalised for a week, however surgeons were not able to reattach his arm. Consequently, he could no longer work at the former City Scrap Ltd in Scunthorpe. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident; it discovered numerous dangers at the site which led to the company’s prosecution at Scunthorpe Magistrates’ Court.

Some of the concerns raised about City Scrap included the absence of and/or inadequate guarding around moving machine parts, no emergency stop buttons provided on processing lines, an absence of a safe system of work and insufficient training given to employees. The HSE gave City Scrap Ltd of Dale Street in Lincoln four Prohibition Notices and also to a further notice related to working at a height. On April 17 the company was fined £20,000, in addition to being ordered pay £8,964 in costs following a guilty plea for violating Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Andrew Gale, a HSE Inspector, said on the matter –

“A young man suffered horrific, life-changing injuries in an incident that was easily preventable. City Scrap Ltd should have had fixed guarding, properly secured, to prevent access to dangerous moving parts. In addition safe procedures should have been in place for clearing blockages, including isolation of power to the machinery. The waste and recycling sector has one of the worst records for injury incidents across all industries and yet the dangers of working with machinery and in the waste business are well known. Employers must ensure they take effective measures to address these risks and properly train their staff to carry out tasks safely.”

UK Coal Mining Ltd Fined £125,000 for the Death of Locomotive Driver

UK Coal Mining Ltd has been fined £125,000  by Nottingham Crown Court over the death of John Harbron, a locomotive driver from Nottinghamshire at Thoresby Colliery in July 2009. The company, however, is unable to pay the fine or the £175,000 in legal costs due to the fact that it restructured last year. Furthermore, it has ceased trading and has no assets to speak of. UK Coal Mining Ltd admitted guilt to violating the Health and Safety at Work Act.

47-year-old Mr Harbron had been in the middle of unloading 40 steel pipes from a rail car when suddenly they rolled on him. Mr Harbron was pronounced dead at the scene after he sustained several severe injuries.

Four written reports had been written by locomotive drivers in the 18 months before the death of Mr Habron concerning the instability of these pipes. The managers, however, failed to act on these concerns or implement changes to improve safety at the colliery. The company has claimed that they have made safety improvements since Mr Habron’s death.

Sharon,Mr Harbron’s widow, expressed the fact that she was “not very happy” following the hearing:

Port Talbot Tata Steel Plant Worker Suffers Burn Injuries

A worker has sustained burn injuries in an accident at the Tata Steel plant in Port Talbot; it has been announced by the company. Tata says that there was a molten steel spillage which was being poured from a crane vessel in the continuous casting plant. Another two workers were treated for shock following the dangerous incident on Tuesday night and all three have been taken to Morriston Hospital in Swansea. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been made aware of the accident.

A spokesman from the HSE said: “It’s an initial inquiry at the moment. An inspector will be visiting the site.”

According to Tata Steel, the injured worker was in a good condition in hospital recovering from their burns which were attributable to the heat, as the worker did not have any direct contact with the molten material. His two colleagues have since been discharged from hospital. The workers were administered medical treatment by the on-site emergency services until paramedics arrived at the scene. Fire services and police services were also alerted under the site emergency plan.

Robert Dangerfield, a Tata spokesman, has said that health and safety has always been the company’s number one priority and that an investigation of the incident is underway. On the matter he said –

“We always look to learn what we can from any incident. We are working at a high capacity at the moment and are in full production,” he said.

“Our thoughts are with our colleague who’s been hurt.”

South Wales Police have established that they were called to an incident at the Tata steel works in Port Talbot at 22:45 BST on Tuesday, April 2nd.