Monthly Archives: July 2012

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.

Bacon Curing Company Fined after Worker Severs Three Fingers

A Walsall bacon curing company based at Leamore Lane, Bloxwich has been ordered to pay fines after an incident where an employee was operating machinery and lost three fingers. The company was prosecuted when 20 year old Daniel Wilfred severed three fingers after his hand became stuck in a packaging machine 23 December 2009.

The incident occurred when Mr Wilfred, from Walsall, was walking through the company’s curing department when he noticed that packs of bacon joints were falling to the floor from the cutting unit. Mr Wilfred then went to the side of the conveyor, leaned over and put his left hand into the cutting unit in an attempt to stop the bacon joints from falling. The machine was still switched on, unfortunately, and Mr Wilfred’s hand was then caught between the machine and the cutting blades. He subsequently lost three fingers up to the last joint.

In Wolverhampton Crown Court, John Cox Cold Stores and Distribution Services Ltd, trading as Midland Bacon Company, was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £31,000 costs  after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 .

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Eve-Marie Edwards had this to about the incident:

“This incident was entirely preventable. The company had failed to prevent access to dangerous parts of the machinery which led directly to Mr Wilfred’s injuries.

“Lessons need to be learned by employers, to ensure that potentially dangerous machinery is suitably guarded and that their workers are aware of the risks involved when working with these machines.”

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