A round up of some recent HSE prosecutions and enforcement action in the construction sector and links to relevant advice.
Construction Safety Topic – underground cables
Roofwork/ Working at height
CITB is reviewing the Health, safety and environment (HS&E) test to ensure that it continues to contribute towards a qualified workforce with the right knowledge, skills and training.
New question styles
From January 2018 the test will include two new question styles:
• Multiple-choice with images
• Drag and drop with text
The content of the questions will not change, but some questions will be presented using the two new styles.
Digital revision materials
All digital revision materials have been updated (DVD’s, downloads and apps) and can be purchased at shop.citb.co.uk. The hard copy revision materials will not be updated, but can still be used to revise for the test as the question content has not been changed.
For further details of the changes, and to try the new question styles go to citb.co.uk/hsetestdev.
A steel company has today been fined after the release of toxic and flammable substances from its site in Scunthorpe.
A Dorset based company has been fined after a scaffold collapsed at an industrial unit in Wallisdown, Poole.
A manufacturing firm has been sentenced for safety breaches after a worker suffered flash burns to her face, neck, chest and both arms.
The landlord of a property in Ilfracombe has been given a suspended sentence for risking the lives of his tenants by undertaking dangerous gas work.
A passenger air transport firm has been fined after an employee suffered brain damage after being crushed by hangar doors in Bedfordshire.
National furniture company fined for safety failings
A national furniture company has been fined £1M and ordered to pay costs of £15,099 after safety failings which led to serious neck and head injuries of a worker who was unloading wooden furniture frames, when he was struck by an unsecured furniture arm which fell from an unstable load. The impact knocked him unconscious and he suffered serious neck and head injuries. More information on the accident and fine can be found on HSE’s Press Release.
Fencing business owners receive suspended sentences
The two owners of Kidderminster based fencing firm have been given suspended sentences of 18 weeks imprisonment suspended for two years and fined £10,000 each after a worker was hit by timber posts and frames which fell from a fork lift truck. More information on the accident and fine can be found on HSE’s Press Release.
Wood shavings company fined
A company that produces and supplies wood shavings for use as horse bedding has been fined £17,293.60 and ordered to pay costs of £623.60 after a worker suffered a serious foot injury at its site while operating a log deck. More information on the accident and fine can be found on HSE’s Press Release.
The purpose of this year’s Inspection Programme is to target sectors where substances causing cancer, asthma and silicosis are regularly used, produced or process generated, to ensure the risks are properly managed. Ill health effects from exposure to these substances can be chronic and life-changing and every year many workers develop occupational asthma or occupational cancer as a result of exposures to substances in their workplace.
From July to September inspectors will be targeting sites that carry out woodworking processes looking at wood dust and local exhaust ventilation controls.
Wood dust can cause serious health problems. It can cause asthma, which carpenters and joiners are four times more likely to get compared with other UK workers and hardwood dust can cause sino-nasal cancer.
Settled dust contains the fine particles that are most likely to damage the lungs.
Information on controlling the risks from these processes can be found through the inspection programme link above. The topics inspectors are concentrating on can be found on HSE’s Website.
Released 3rd July 2017
A paint manufacturing company in Manchester has been fined for health and safety failings after a worker suffered burns while trying to clean the floor of a spray booth.
Manchester Crown Court heard how an employee of HMG Paints Ltd was using a highly flammable solvent to clean the floor of a spray booth on site, a job he had done several times since the spray booth was installed.
After complaints about how difficult it was to remove the dried paint he was allowed to purchase an industrial floor scrubber to carry out the task. On 18 November 2014 electric motor on the floor scrubber ignited the cloud of flammable vapour that had built up in the spray booth.
The employee was seriously injured, receiving 26% burns, and was treated at the specialist burns unit at Wythenshawe Hospital.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the planning for cleaning floors using solvent failed to recognise the hazards and level of risk associated with the use of highly flammable solvents to clean floors. The employee who was injured had not been trained to clean floors and was not adequately supervised when carrying out the cleaning activity.
HMG Paints Limited, of Collyhurst Road, Manchester, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £39,669.40.
Speaking after the case HSE inspector David Myrtle said: “This is a company that handles large quantities of flammable solvent, the hazards are well known and the company has a duty to control the risks arising from the hazards.
“It was custom and practice to clean floors using highly flammable solvents applied using a mop and bucket. In this instance the company failed to adequately control the risks and an employee was seriously injured.”
Released 3rd July 2017
A contractor has been sentenced after a man who hired him was killed by a piece of barbed wire that shot out of his hedge cutting machine.
On 13 February 2015 Adrian Pickett was hedge cutting for James Headland, a retired farmer, when the wire ejected out the machine and struck him in the neck. The 73-year-old later died as a result of his injuries.
Lincoln Magistrates’ Court heard how Mr Pickett had been contracted to do the work for the land owner at Headland’s Farm and was using his own machinery which included a rotary flail hedge cutter.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Mr Pickett failed to ensure his own safety and that of others by following a safe system of work. His maintenance of the equipment and correct use of guards for this work activity were also at fault.
Adrian Pickett of Canopus farm, Frith Bank, Boston pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. He was sentenced to 80 hours of community service ordered to pay £6558.38 in costs.
Speaking after the case HSE inspector Sam Russell said: “Mr Pickett contributed to the circumstances of this tragic death by not taking the correct precautions. He could have reduced the risk significantly by using the correct guarding and safe system of work for activity of cutting hedges.”
Joan Headland, who was married to James Headland for 45 years said: “Since my husband left the house that Friday morning I have never seen him again. James was my husband, my friend and a great father to my children. He had been a very proud grandfather for only five weeks. We have shed a few tears and there will be more tears to shed as time goes by.”
Released 3rd July 2017
Warburtons Ltd has been fined after a worker was injured when his arm got trapped against a running conveyor belt.
Nottingham Crown Court heard how on 4 August 2015 the agency worker was cleaning parts of the bread line when his arm got trapped leaving him with friction burns which required skin grafts.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found CCTV footage showing the worker cleaning parts of the line; as he reached into the line he became trapped between two conveyors and part of the machine had to be dismantled to release him.
HSE inspectors found the machine could have been fitted with localised guarding to prevent access between the conveyors.
Warburtons Ltd of Mushroom Farm Eastwood, Nottingham, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company has been fined £1.9 million and ordered to pay full costs of £21,459.71.
Speaking after the case HSE inspector Edward Walker said: “Warburtons failed to guard the machine sufficiently to prevent access to the running conveyors, which in this case could have prevented the injuries.
“Employers should ensure that all equipment used by agency and their own workers alike are sufficiently guarded and take appropriate measures if any deficiencies are found.”
Released 5th July 2017
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has today released its annual figures for work-related fatalities, as well as the number of people known to have died from the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma, in 2015.
The provisional annual data for work-related fatal accidents revealed that 137 workers were fatally injured between April 2016 and March 2017 (a rate of 0.43 per 100,000 workers), the second lowest year on record.
There has been a long-term downward trend in the number of fatal injuries to workers – they have halved over the last 20 years – although in recent years the trend shows signs of levelling.
HSE Chair Martin Temple said:
“Every fatality is a tragic event that should not happen. While we are encouraged by this improvement on the previous year, we continue unwaveringly on our mission to prevent injury, death and ill health by protecting people and reducing risks.”
The new figures show the rate of fatal injuries in several key industrial sectors:
- 30 fatal injuries to construction workers were recorded. While this accounts for the largest share, this is the lowest number on record for the sector. However, over the last five years the number has fluctuated, The annual average for the past five years is 39. The annual average rate over the last five years in construction is around four times as high as the all industry rate.
- 27 fatal injuries to agricultural workers were recorded. This sector continues to account for a large share of the annual fatality count. It has the highest rate of fatal injury of all the main industry sectors, around 18 times as high as the all industry rate.
- 14 fatal injuries to waste and recycling workers were recorded. Despite being a relatively small sector in terms of employment, the annual average fatal injury rate over the last five years is around 15 times as high as the all industry rate.
The fatalities in the waste and recycling sector in 2016/17 include the single incident at Hawkeswood Metal Recycling Ltd in Birmingham on 7 July 2016 which resulted in five deaths.
Martin Temple continued:
“As we approach the one-year anniversary of this incident, our thoughts remain with the families of those who died. We continue to fully support West Midlands Police’s investigation.”
The new figures also highlight the risks to older workers – around a quarter of fatal injuries in 2016/17 were to workers aged 60 or over, even though such workers made up only around 10% of the workforce.
There were also 92 members of the public fatally injured in accidents connected to work in 2016/17. Almost half of these occurred on railways with the remainder occurring across a number of sectors including public services, entertainment and recreation.
Mesothelioma, one of the few work related diseases where deaths can be counted directly, contracted through past exposure to asbestos killed 2,542 in Great Britain in 2015 compared to 2,519 in 2014. The current figures relating to asbestos-related cancer reflect widespread exposures before 1980. Annual deaths are therefore expected to start to reduce after this current decade.
A fuller assessment of work related ill-health and injuries, drawing on HSE’s full range of data sources, will be provided as part of the annual Health and Safety Statistics release on 1 November 2017.
The HSE Chair added:
“We deal daily with the causes and consequences of work-related deaths, injuries and ill health. Today’s updated figures continue to inform our understanding of which areas we need to target.”
“We concentrate our interventions where we know we can have the biggest impact. We hold duty holders accountable for managing the risks they create in the workplace. This benefits workers, business performance, the economy and wider society alike.”