Gloucester Manufacturer In Court For Worker Fall

A Gloucester electrical products manufacturer has been fined for breaking safety legislation (Working at Height) after an employee was injured in a fall at work.

Roger Bouskill, 63, from Tuffley, was helping remove redundant plant and equipment at Mekufa (UK) Ltd when the incident happened on 28 March 2012.

In a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court heard today (22 April) that Mr Bouskill was dismantling a large dis-used oven, the flue of which extended into the ceiling space. Sections of the flue were being removed using a forklift cage to gain access.

During the operation Mr Bouskill left the cage to get onto the roof of the oven. As the stack was being moved it toppled and knocked him 2.5 metres to the ground. Mr Bouskill fractured his arm and suffered concussion. He was unable to return to work for five weeks.

An investigation by HSE found there was no documented plan or risk assessment for the task, which was unsupervised, or for any of the other removal works taking place. In addition, the employee operating the fork lift truck was not trained to do so.

Mekufa (UK) Ltd of Unit 1 Permali Park, Bristol Road, Gloucester, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,569.

Speaking after the prosecution, HSE Inspector Ian Whittles said:

“Mr Bouskill sustained a serious injury and could have died as a result of the fall.

“The dangers of working at height are well known, yet incidents of this kind occur all too often. The fall could have easily been prevented if Mekufa (UK) Ltd had assessed the risks and put simple measures in place to minimise them.

“An appropriate plan would have also ensured that those undertaking the work were appropriately supervised and competent.

“This prosecution should serve as a reminder to all companies who expect their employees to work at height of their legal duties to manage safety and provide the protection required to safeguard them from falls.”

At Acorn EHS we can assist with Safe Systems of Work we can also provide Working at Height courses including Harness Training call us on 03334 560 999 or click here for more information

Builder Fined For Failing To Provide Proper Facilities For Workers

A builder has been prosecuted for neglecting the welfare facilities of his workers at a construction site in West Cornwall.

David Lawrance, as a partner for Swiftfix Reinforcement Specialists, failed to provide adequate washing facilities and rest areas at a site in Beach Road, Carbis Bay, between May and July 2012 where a new home was being built.

Bodmin Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday (17 April) that when an inspector from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) visited the site he found there was no hot or cold running water, or even a basin to wash in.

There was also no supply of suitable drinking water, just a hose running from a neighbouring property into a plastic container.

The inspector also found that an area for resting, drying clothes or eating was inadequate. There was a small portable office with room for three chairs, but there were eight workmen on site and there was no electricity supply connected to the office.

An Improvement Notice was served requiring better conditions, but a follow-up HSE inspection revealed nothing had changed.

David Lawrance, of Downside, Rosudgeon, near Penzance, pleaded guilty to a single breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. He was given a two year conditional discharge and ordered to pay costs of £2,141.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Barry Trudgian, said:

“The need to provide running water to wash hands and arms is not a trivial matter on a building site.

“The workmen were pouring concrete and when splashed on the skin this can lead to dermatitis if it is not washed off. Apart from being an unpleasant condition, in some cases it can lead to the loss of use of fingers and hands.

“Site contractors and supervisors like David Lawrance, who are responsible for the work of employees or subcontractors, have a legal duty to ensure that adequate facilities are in place for the welfare of the workforce from the very start to the completion of construction work.”

At Acorn EHS we provide Site Safety advice and can assist with your site setup ensuring you provide suitable welfare facilities call us on 03334 560 999.

Unregistered Wiltshire Gas Fitter Prosecuted

A Westbury man has been prosecuted for illegal and unsafe gas work after falsely claiming to be on the Gas Safe Register. Ken Pirie appeared before North Wiltshire Magistrates yesterday (16 April 2013) in relation to work on a gas boiler at an address in Oldfield Park, Westbury, on 15 March 2012.He claimed to be qualified to carry out work on gas appliances, but a subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which brought the prosecution, established that he wasn’t registered with Gas Safe – a legal requirement for anyone undertaking such work.Magistrates heard that an investigator from Gas Safe Register went to the domestic address on 11 June 2012 following complaints from the householder. They discovered work had been done to the boiler that breached specifications for gas appliances and could be classed as unsafe.

Ken Pirie, of Timor Rd, Westbury, pleaded guilty to three separate breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. He was sentenced to 80 hours unpaid community service and was also ordered to pay £450 compensation to the householder and £1,000 towards prosecution costs.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Andy Shaw said:

“Incorrectly fitted gas appliances can be highly dangerous and can lead to loss of life.

“Those who undertake gas work must be on the Gas Safe Register and be competent to carry out such work.  Anyone who works on gas appliances without being registered is breaking the law.

“Ken Pirie knew this and falsely claimed to be Gas Safe registered to compensate. Yet he clearly wasn’t competent, as his unsafe handiwork testified.

“This case highlights the need for householders to check the credentials of anyone working at their property, especially where gas is involved ”

Russell Kramer, Chief Executive of Gas Safe Register, said:

“Every Gas Safe registered engineer has an ID card which shows who they are and the type of work they are qualified to carry out. Customers should ask to see this and check the engineer is qualified to do the job in hand.

“You can also check your engineer by calling us on 0800 408 5500 or by visiting www.gassaferegister.co.uk

At Acorn EHS we work with small contractors to ensure they are legally compliant if you run a small enginnering busisness contact us on 03334 560 999 we can help.

Transport company fined following investigation

The director of a plastering company was killed when a pallet containing more than a tonne of render fell on top of him during a lorry delivery at premises in Devon.

Phillip Ring, 37, from Whitleigh, Plymouth, was hit by a falling pallet in the incident on 31 March 2009 at Yelverton Business Park, Crapstone, near Plymouth.

The incident led to an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which included a review of the safety management arrangements by the delivery company, RR Transport Ltd of Redruth.

Plymouth Crown Court heard that the delivery that resulted in Mr Ring’s death should have been offloaded at a nearby construction site in Crapstone using a forklift truck or telehandler.  However, restrictions on access to the site and a lack of mechanical handling equipment meant the driver ended up unloading the pallet by hand at a nearby business park using the pallet truck and tail lift on his lorry.

At some point during the delivery, he lost control of the load and it fell from the tail lift, crushing Mr Ring who was standing on the road at the back of the vehicle.

Mr Ring suffered serious head injuries and died later at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth.

RR Transport, who’s registered office is Peat House, Truro, was fined £22,000 and ordered to pay £30,000 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of Regulation 3(1)(b) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Jo Fitzgerald said:

“This was a tragic incident and it illustrates the significant risks involved in delivery operations.  Thinking through those risks in a structured way helps delivery firms identify what could go wrong and improve safety.

“While HSE does not say that RR Transport’s failings caused Mr Ring’s death, by failing to assess the risks properly the company did not have a number of important steps in place, which would have made their operation safer.  They did not have a clear, consistent system for drivers to follow for using tail lifts, the tail lifts on their vehicles had not had the thorough examinations required by law and they did not have a proper system for inspecting their pallet trucks.”

Further information on unloading vehicles can be found on the HSE website at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/falls/vehicle.htm

Unregistered gas fitter sentenced for false claims and endangering life

An East Devon gas fitter who risked the lives of a young couple through his dangerous work falsely claimed to be on the Gas Safe Register, a court has heard.

Luke Potts, who trades as Devon Plumber, installed a new gas boiler at a home in Chelmsford Road, Exeter, in May 2012 that was classed as “immediately dangerous” when checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

He claimed to be a registered engineer himself, an untruth that came to light after the householders complained about his dangerous work.

Exeter Magistrates’ were told today (10 April) that an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Gas Safe Register found the flue for the boiler had been incorrectly fitted, which could have led to lethal carbon monoxide leaking into the property.

In addition, the gas meter box had been altered by drilling a hole in it to feed in a new gas pipe, which could have allowed gas to leak into the building.

Although Mr Potts was unregistered, having failed to renew his registration in January 2012, he continued to display the Gas Safe Register logo on his website. The householders relied on this when they asked him to fit the boiler, assuming he was fully accredited and qualified.

Luke Potts, of Cornhill, Ottery St Mary, was given a 20 week custodial sentence, suspended for 18 months and ordered to carry out 60 hours of community service. He was also ordered to pay £1,000 in costs after pleading guilty to three separate breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Simon Jones, said:

“Mr Potts’ poor work could have had tragic consequences for the householders, who put their lives in his hands.

“They believed he was a registered engineer and asked him to do the work as a result. If an individual is working on gas appliances and installations is not on the Gas Safe Register they are working illegally.”

Paul Johnston, chief executive for Gas Safe Register said:

“A quarter of a million illegal gas jobs are carried out every year by fitters who don’t have the skills or the qualifications to work safely on gas. It’s therefore vital the public always make sure the person working on their gas appliances is on the Gas Safe Register.

“You can check your engineer is legal and safe by asking to see their Gas Safe ID card. You can also check the engineer’s registration number by calling us on 0800 408 5500, or visiting the website www.gassaferegister.co.uk link to external website.”

Further information on gas safety can be found on the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk/gas.

South West Construction Sites Fail Safety Inspections

Nearly a third of the construction sites visited across Somerset, Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire during a month-long inspection initiative failed health and safety checks.

Inspectors visited the areas as part of a national Health and Safety Executive (HSE) clampdown aimed at reducing death, injury and ill health.

At total of 61 of the 215 sites inspected were found to have significant failings and 40 enforcement notices were issued as a result.

Specific work activities on some of the sites were deemed so dangerous that 27 Prohibition Notices were served by inspectors, immediately halting further work until standards had been improved.

The inspectors visited sites where refurbishment or repair work was taking place, to support a drive to improve standards in one of Britain’s most dangerous industries.

They made unannounced visits to ensure companies are managing high-risk activity, such as working at height. They also checked for general good order, assessed welfare facilities and checked whether Personal Protective Equipment, such as head protection, was being used appropriately.

During 2011/12, three workers were killed while working in construction across Somerset, Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, and a further 131 were seriously injured. Nationally, there were 49 deaths and more than 2,800 major injuries.

The purpose of the initiative is to remind those working in the industry that poor standards are unacceptable and could result in enforcement action.

Andrew Kingscott, HSE Principal Inspector for the Somerset, Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Construction Division, said:

“It is good news that the majority of the construction sites we visited were obeying the law and making the effort to manage safety, but sadly some sites are letting down the rest of the industry.

“Poorly erected scaffolding, exposure to dangerous types of dust, and inadequate washing facilities were among the poor standards we found on some sites.

“I hope by carrying out these spot checks we will help to raise awareness of the dangers and reduce the number of construction workers being killed or seriously injured at work.”

Further information about working safely in the construction industry can be found online at www.hse.gov.uk/construction

South West construction sites fail safety inspections

Date:
10 April 2013
Release No:
HSE/SW/Cons

Nearly a third of the construction sites visited across Somerset, Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire during a month-long inspection initiative failed health and safety checks.

Inspectors visited the areas as part of a national Health and Safety Executive (HSE) clampdown aimed at reducing death, injury and ill health.

At total of 61 of the 215 sites inspected were found to have significant failings and 40 enforcement notices were issued as a result.

Specific work activities on some of the sites were deemed so dangerous that 27 Prohibition Notices were served by inspectors, immediately halting further work until standards had been improved.

The inspectors visited sites where refurbishment or repair work was taking place, to support a drive to improve standards in one of Britain’s most dangerous industries.

They made unannounced visits to ensure companies are managing high-risk activity, such as working at height. They also checked for general good order, assessed welfare facilities and checked whether Personal Protective Equipment, such as head protection, was being used appropriately.

During 2011/12, three workers were killed while working in construction across Somerset, Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, and a further 131 were seriously injured. Nationally, there were 49 deaths and more than 2,800 major injuries.

The purpose of the initiative is to remind those working in the industry that poor standards are unacceptable and could result in enforcement action.

Andrew Kingscott, HSE Principal Inspector for the Somerset, Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Construction Division, said:

“It is good news that the majority of the construction sites we visited were obeying the law and making the effort to manage safety, but sadly some sites are letting down the rest of the industry.

“Poorly erected scaffolding, exposure to dangerous types of dust, and inadequate washing facilities were among the poor standards we found on some sites.

“I hope by carrying out these spot checks we will help to raise awareness of the dangers and reduce the number of construction workers being killed or seriously injured at work.”

Further information about how Acorn EHS can assist your organisation with construction safety please click here we offer CDM-C Services and on Site SEHQ Services.

Please also visit the HSE website www.hse.gov.uk/construction

Fatalities/serious injuries in 2011/12

Fatalities Injuries
Former County of Avon Bath and North East Somerset Unitary Authority 1 3
Bristol Unitary Authority 27
South Gloucestershire Unitary Authority 12
North West Somerset Unitary Authority 6
Total 1 48
Gloucestershire Cheltenham Borough Council 4
Cotswold District Council 7
Forest of Dean District Council 5
Gloucester City Council 6
Stroud District Council 6
Tewkesbury Borough Council 2
Total 30
Somerset Mendip District Council 7
Sedgemoor District Council 7
Taunton Deane Borough Council 3
South Somerset District Council 1 9
Total 1 26
Wiltshire Swindon Unitary Authority 1 8
Wiltshire Unitary Authority 19
Total 1 27

Bournemouth building contractor prosecuted after worker loses leg

A director of a Wimborne building firm has been fined after a self-employed worker was seriously injured when working on an extension at a local cottage.

Dorchester Crown Court heard today (5 April) that David Mitchell, a director of Ferndown Developments Ltd, had hired James O’Connor, from Winton, to work at the cottage when the incident happened on 29 April 2009.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the property was on a sloping site and needed excavating below the level of the shallow cottage foundation in order to construct the foundations for the extension.

Mr O’Connor, 42, was in the process of lowering the ground level when the gable wall collapsed, knocking him to the ground.

At the same time, part of the wall fell through the windscreen of an excavator and activated the reverse lever. Mr O’Connor’s leg, which was on the track of the excavator, was pulled in and became trapped between the track and body of the excavator. He suffered shoulder, back and leg injuries and had to have his right leg amputated above the knee.

The HSE investigation found that Mr Mitchell, who had been contracted to carry out the job, did not control the work in a safe manner. He failed to identify the need to support the building during the excavation and foundation stages of the project.

David Mitchell, director of Ferndown Developments Ltd, Park Homer Drive, Wimborne, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 28(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay costs of £18,000.

Speaking after the prosecution, HSE Inspector Frank Flannery said:

“This was a very serious and wholly preventable incident in which a man in his prime lost a leg as a result of the omissions and failings during the planning and construction phases of the project.

“Had Mr Mitchell fully assessed the safety aspects of the work that he was contracted to do prior to starting, he would have identified the need to support the building during the excavation and the building of the new foundation. This would have allowed a structural engineer to be instructed prior to the work starting, and a safe system of work could have been determined.

“Whilst welcoming the verdict today, the fact remains that this incident could have easily resulted in a more serious outcome and is a reminder to all those in the construction industry of their legal duties to manage health and safety.”

Further information about safety on building sites can be found on the HSE website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/index.htm

Firm in court after teenager scarred by toxic chemical

A Cannock vehicle repair company was today (20 March) fined after a 16 year-old on work experience suffered burns when toxic paint stripper splashed into his eyes and face.

The school pupil should not have been exposed to the risk of being splashed with the dangerous chemical, and should have been provided with appropriate safety goggles to prevent this happening.

Bret Thomas, from Cannock, now 17, had his vision seriously affected for a month and has scarring on his face. He still suffers vision sensitivity and will be prone to suffering from migraines for the rest of his life.

Stafford Magistrates were told that Bret, a pupil of Cannock Chase High School, had been on an extended work placement at Motorhouse 2000 Ltd at its Adini House site on Wolverhampton Road since September 2011.

On 18 January 2012 he was told to assist an employee who was refilling the wheel stripping tank. The employee poured toxic paint stripper from plastic containers into the tank and then passed the containers to Bret who was removing all the labels and cutting them in half in order to dispose of them.

However, as Bret was cutting the last container with a Stanley knife, the plastic container flicked up and remnants of the toxic substance splashed into his eyes and face. He was not wearing any face or eye protection.

Bret suffered burns to his face and eyes. After initial treatment at Cannock Hospital, he was transferred to the specialist eye unit New Cross Hospital. It was approximately a month before his sight returned sufficiently enough for him to go outside and even then, he needed to be accompanied and wear sunglasses.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which investigated, told magistrates that Motorhouse 2000 Ltd had changed to chemical stripping from a mechanical process to save time. It failed to risk assess this process, which involved employees coming into contact with toxic substances, nor ensured face or eye protection was worn by employees.

Motorhouse 2000 Ltd, of Watling Street, Cannock, pleaded guilty to contravening Regulation 19(2)(b) of the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The company was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,319.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Katherine Blunt said:

“This young man has suffered an extremely painful ordeal in an incident that was totally preventable. The impact will be long lasting but Bret could have been blinded for life.

“The substance involved contains dichloromethane, hydrofluoric acid and methanol, which have been known to cause death through inhalation, burns when in contact with skin and eyes, and irreversible damage.

“Motorhouse 2000 Ltd gave little consideration to the health or safety of its employees when working with chemicals by not ensuring protective equipment, including face and eye protection, was worn. They failed to adequately assess the risks of the chemicals used which resulted in poor control measures being put in place for everyone working in that area.

“Work experience is very important for young people in order for them to gain an understanding of the world of work. However, employers must fulfil their responsibilities to assess risks and protect young people by putting the appropriate control measures in place.”

Barnstaple building company fined for ignoring safety risks

A Barnstaple construction company has been fined for safety failings after a ground worker was seriously injured when he stumbled from an excavator and fell down a five metre bank at a construction site in Middle Marwood.

The 65-year-old, who does not want to be named, suffered three fractured vertebrae, broken ribs and sternum, lung damage and a head wound that required stitches in the incident at a cottage undergoing renovation on 6 October 2011.

He was in intensive care for three weeks, has yet to make a full recovery and is unlikely to work again.

Barnstaple Magistrates’ Court heard today (20 March) that his employer, G Loosemore and Son Ltd, had been contracted to build a two-storey extension at the rear of a cottage.

The ground worker was engaged in excavation work on land that sloped steeply upwards. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that his excavator was working on a level of ground at approximately roof height with the cottage in order to dig out material to make way for a terrace area and exterior steps leading to upper garden levels.

He needed to change the excavator’s bucket during the work, but as he exited the cab he stumbled. He tried to steady himself by grabbing hold of a handle attached to the lift arm, but it came away in his hand and he fell approximately five metres down a slope and onto the path behind the cottage. He hit his head on a large stone as he fell and was knocked unconscious.

HSE established that there was no edge protection to prevent a fall to the area behind the cottage, and no steps were taken to support the excavation prior to the later installation of a supporting wall. The investigation also identified that there had been several falls of material from the main excavation area before the worker fell. These should have served as a warning, but no action was taken.

A Prohibition Notice was subsequently served to prevent any further excavation work at the site until a competent person had made an assessment and provided a safe system of work.

G Loosemore & Son Ltd, of Roundswell Business Park, Barnstaple, Devon, was fined a total of £12,000 and ordered to pay £11,210 in costs after pleading guilty to breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Annette Walker said:

“The dangers of working at height without adequate edge protection, and the risks associated with excavation collapse, are very clear. Yet companies and individuals continue to take risks and cut corners.

“In this case, significant harm occurred in respect of a fall from height. G Loosemore & Son Ltd could and should have done more to prevent the fall from the top of the bank, but this was only addressed as a consequence of the incident.

“There were a number of collapses of material prior to the fall that should have prompted the company to take earlier action, but these warnings were ignored. It illustrated there were serious risks, but they were disregarded.

“Today’s prosecution should remind all involved in excavation work, or general work at height, of their legal duties to safely manage activity and provide the necessary protection.”

Further information about working safely at height can be found on the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk/falls. Information on excavation safety can be found at www.hse.gov.uk/construction

Firms fined for asbestos exposure risk at scrap yard and naval training base

A number of workers and Royal Navy personnel were exposed to asbestos after pipes lined with the dangerous material were left on a roadside before being put in an open skip and transferred to a salvage yard, a court has heard.

The pipes, lined with asbestos insulation, were removed from HMS Sultan naval training base in Gosport in September 2009 as part of works to replace a hot water system.

Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court was told today (20 March) that Southampton-based VT Flagship Ltd was responsible for the works as the main contractor for the HMS Sultan site.

The company contracted Hertfordshire-based PPSL District Energy Limited to remove the pipes and associated materials before PPSL in turn employed a local welding firm and pipe fitter to undertake the work.

Magistrates heard that the old pipes were stacked by the side of the road at the base before they were placed in an open metal recycling skip and transferred to Demolition and Salvage Ltd in Hilsea.

The salvage firm contacted the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on 20 October 2009 after discovering their premises was contaminated with asbestos from the pipes.

A subsequent HSE investigation identified that both VT Flagship and PPSL had failed to identify the presence of asbestos in the pipes as a result of inaccurate assumptions and failures to undertake thorough checks and surveys.

HSE also established that employees from both companies, as well as workers from the salvage yard, the welder and pipe fitter sub-contracted by PPSL plus anyone in the vicinity of the contaminated pipes, including passing Navy personnel, could justly be deemed ‘at risk’ to asbestos exposure.

The insulation material should have been properly identified and safely removed and disposed of by a licensed asbestos removal specialist.

PPSL District Energy Limited, of Boxwell Road, Berkhamstead, Herts, was fined a total of £18,000 and ordered to pay £4,291 in costs after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.

VT Flagship Ltd, of Grange Drive, Hedge End, Southampton, was fined £12,000 with costs of £5,196 after also pleading guilty to a single breach of the same legislation.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Adam Wycherley said:

“Before anyone undertakes any demolition or refurbishment works they must take appropriate steps to ensure they have reliable information regarding the materials they are dealing with, an essential requirement that is specifically in place to identify the presence of asbestos.

“VT Flagship and PPSL District Energy both failed in this regard. They wrongly assumed there was no asbestos without carrying out proper checks to back that up with hard evidence.

“As a result a number of workers for several different companies, as well as passing Navy personnel, were put at unnecessary risk. Anyone walking past the pipes could have inhaled fibres as they became airborne, and they posed a major contamination hazard.

“Thousands of people die every year as a result of asbestos-related disease, and duty holders cannot afford to take any chances or make assumptions.”

Further information on the dangers posed by asbestos can be found online at www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos