Monthly Archives: February 2013

BP McKeefry Ltd Fined for Failure to Ensure Health and Safety of its Workers

BP McKeefry Ltd, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a 26-year-old truck driver from Merseyside was almost fatally injured during an incident where his vehicle hit an 11,000 volt overhead power line as he delivered fertiliser to a farm in Maghull on 14 March 2011. The HSE conducted an investigation following the incident and discovered that the firm’s employees were not adequately trained when it came to the risk management of overhead cables.

The driver, who does not want to be name, had been tipping the fertiliser onto the ground of the farm when the incident happened. He subsequently moved the truck forward, with the trailer still raised, so that the remainder of the fertiliser would be emptied. The corner of the trailer then hit an overhead power line which was about seven metres above the ground.

He then jumped from the truck after hearing popping sounds and then the tires at the side of the truck were set on fire. When he noticed that the truck was touching a cable overhead, he got back in the vehicle to drive it away. The company’s employees should have received proper training that would informed them not to raise trailers unless they were more than ten metres away from a power line. The driver also should have known not to get back into his truck.

BP McKeefry was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £3,000 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to violating the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

HSE Inspector Imran Siddiqui stated –

“The worker was lucky not to be killed when his vehicle struck an overhead power cable, especially when he later jumped back into the vehicle while it was still in contact with the line.

“BP McKeefry specialises in transporting liquid and powder products, such as fertiliser, and so is used to delivering to farms where there may be overhead power lines.

“Despite this, the company failed to provide its employees with a suitable procedure for working near overhead cables, or guidance on what to do if they struck one.”

 

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.”

Textile Company Fined After Worker Death

WE Rawson Ltd , a West Yorkshire based textile company, has been fined over £115,000 by Leeds Crown Court for breaching safety regulations after an incident where a 61-year-old forklift truck operator was crushed by a falling stack of rag bales and killed on 22 February 2010. Later that day the worker, James Welka, died in hospital.

The accident that caused Mr Welka’s death occurred when a column of bales collapsed and two bales of rags – which each weighed more than 300kg – hit Mr Welka in the head. Mr Welka from Wakefield had been working for the firm for five years and was an experienced forklift operator.

Mr Welka had been stood next to a five-metre high column of bales on day that the accident occurred. He had been calling a supervisor on the phone. Nearby, a colleague was moving some bales with a forklift. All of a sudden the column fell over towardsthe colleague’s truck, however the two bales that had been on top fell towards Mr Welka and struck him.

A Health and Safety Executive investigation discovered that WE Rawson Ltd had been unsafely stacking these rag bales. Not only were there safety failures with regards to the well-being of its employees, but they were also endangering the lives of pedestrians around the warehouse.

After the incident, HSE inspector Geoff Fletcher said:

“This tragic incident could have been avoided had WE Rawson taken its duty of care toward its employees sufficiently seriously. The sad consequence of the company’s failures is an unnecessary loss of life and the devastating impact this has had on Mr Welka’s partner, family and friends.

“The company was aware that the rag bales were unstable as there was a history of them collapsing. There were simple and straightforward steps that could have been taken to ensure that the stability of the bales did not present a risk to pedestrian workers in the warehouse area. Those measures were not taken.

“After Mr Welka’s death, the company adopted different stacking practices improving the stability of the stacks, reduced the need for pedestrians in the warehouse and improved the control of pedestrians in the warehouse. That is to be welcomed and expected, but cannot compensate for the loss of a life.”

Darlington Company Fined After Failing to Disclose Vital Safety Information To Construction Workers

Northgate Vehicle Sales Ltd, a Darlington company, has been fined fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £6,123.55 costs by Darlington Magistrates’ Court after a 41-year-old construction worker struck a buried electricity cable and sustained severe burn injuries to his face, neck and arms. The worker had been installing metal fencing while refurbishing the company’s car park when the incident occurred on 10 November 2010.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation following the incident and discovered that the company had not provided the construction workers with important information about existing hazards such as buried electricity cables. To install this metal fencing it was necessary for the construction workers to dig holes in the ground for the purpose of inserting the base of each fence post. Before this was carried out, the injured worker had been told that there were no buried electric cables.

As the worker was using ground breaker, the tip of it cut through an 11kV cable that was buried 80cm underground. This then caused a short circuit; at least one million watts of energy were discharged which evaporated the tip of the breaker. A cloud of flame and molten metal was created by this and this is how the worker suffered his burns.

Jonathan Wills, a HSE Inspector, had this to say following the incident’s court hearing –

“The injuries sustained by the worker could have easily resulted in him losing his life. He suffered severe burns and is still recovering from those injuries following an incident that could have been avoided had Northgate Vehicle Sales Ltd requested service plans and given them to those carrying out the construction work.

“The risk of striking underground cables is well known throughout the construction industry and the law says you must take precautions to avoid danger.

“There is a wealth of guidance available for contractors and the clients for whom the work is being carried out to help them manage the risks effectively.”

The latest figures show that seven people died as a result of contact with electricity or electrical discharge in the workplace in Great Britain in 2010/11 and 88 suffered a major injury.

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.”