Monthly Archives: March 2013

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.”

Packaging Firm Fined £200,000 after Worker Suffered Serious Hand Injuries

Smurfit Kappa UK Ltd, a packaging firm, has been fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £19,308 in prosecution costs by Carlisle Crown Court after a 25-year-old employee had his hands stuck in heavy machinery and subsequently sustained serious injury at their Whitehaven factory on 14 September 2010. The employee from Egremont, who wishes not to be named, ended up suffering the loss of four fingers and severed parts of two others in the accident at the company’s site at Richmond Works in Hensingham.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the company following their investigation which discovered that the employee had not been tried adequately prior to the accident and that he also had not been supervised at the time. At the time of the accident the employee was working on a power press, a machine which applies a force of up to 35 tonnes for the purpose of stamping out metal lids, which is then used either at the end of cardboard tubes or for packaging for whisky bottles.

He had been changing the lid producing part of the machine, while trying to make sure that it was producing the correct lid size. To remove the lid, he reached under the pressing tool.  This pressing tool then stamped down on his hands. He subsequently lost the little and ring fingers on his left hand, the ring and middle fingers on his right hand in addition to the little and index fingers on his right hand which had been severed to the second knuckle.

Apparently the employee’s supervisor had left the company four months prior to the incident, however workers that replaced this supervision had not been given adequate training. Furthermore, the injured employee had not been trained sufficiently prior to the incident and adequate risk assessment had not been carried out.

HSE Inspector Andrew Jewitt stated –

“The employee was off work for ten months due to the extent of his injuries, but they will continue to affect him for the rest of his life. He now struggles with everyday activities, like writing and cutting up food, which most of us take for granted.

“The risk of serious injury from power presses is well known in the manufacturing industry and the worker’s injuries could have been avoided if Smurfit Kappa had made sure he and his supervisors had been properly trained.

“Incidents like this will continue to happen if employers don’t take the risks seriously.”