Monday, 30 June 2014

West Midlands Travel fined over £185,000 after an employee was crushed between 2 buses

Regional bus operator West Midlands Travel was fined £185,119 (inc.costs) on 27 June 2014 after an employee died when he was crushed between two buses.
The circumstances were:
  • Lee Baker, an assistant mechanic, was attempting to move a double-decker bus to get access to a pit during a night shift. 
  • No supervisor was on duty at the time of the incident
  • Employees had not been trained in a safe system of work for moving buses not under their own power and had allowed the practice of workers pushing them during the night shifts. 
  • The company had a recovery agency to tow broken down vehicles both to the depot and within it, but only supervisors had been briefed to call them out.
  • West Midlands Travel failed to perform a suitable assessment of the risks inherent in moving buses manually.
  • On 22 October 2011 Mr Baker found that the reverse gear wouldn’t work. 
  • The lack of both a clear, safe system of work and a supervisor led to Mr Baker attempting to devise his own way of dealing with a problem that was preventing him from getting on with his work.
  • He and a colleague attempted to push it backwards to get it past a single-decker parked ten feet away and sideways on to the double-decker.
  • He went into the cab of the bus, which has an automatic safety device engaging the parking brake when the doors are open. 
  • He intended to put the gearbox in neutral but inadvertently left it in drive.
  • When he got off and closed the doors, the parking brake automatically disengaged after three seconds and the bus moved towards the two men who were then in front of the bus ready to push. 
  • Although his colleague managed to jump out of the way, Mr Baker didn’t and was crushed between the two vehicles.

The HSE inspector said:
“This was a dreadful tragedy and was devastating to Lee Baker’s family. It is clear that the failings of West Midlands Travel contributed significantly to this young man’s death. There was no supervisor on duty to advise Mr Baker or to ensure that no attempts were made to move a bus without somebody at the wheel, or advise him to call the recovery agency to move it. The company has since introduced a number of safety measures to prevent a recurrence. It is a pity a young man, who should have had his whole life ahead of him, had to die in what was an avoidable incident for that to happen.”

Worker crushed by almost half a tonne of MDF

Specialist Joinery Projects Ltd., an Essex joinery firm was fined £10,598 (inc. costs) after en employee was crushed by almost half a tonne of MDF.
The circumstances were:
  • The MDF boards were stored vertically and leant against racking.
  • The boards, each weighing 30kg were unsecured and not racked.
  • On 26 September 2013, a worker removed 3 boards to be sawn. 
  • A suction effect caused a further 15 boards, with a total weight of 450kg,  to topple on him, knocking him over. 
  • As he fell he gashed his head on a stack of timber, and was then pinned to the concrete floor under the weight of the boards for several minutes before being freed.
  • He suffered two collapsed lungs, a broken collar bone, five broken ribs and a gash to his head.

The HSE Inspector said:
“The risks from falling timber and board material in the wood-working industry are well-known. There have been a number of incidents in recent years, including fatalities, where poorly-stored and unsecured boards have fallen on workers. Specialist Joinery Projects should have ensured boarding was secure and that there was a safe process for using and handling boarding for employees to follow. Simple and relatively inexpensive control measures, such as racking, would have prevented this incident and the serious injuries incurred by this worker.”

Scrap metal company fined £94,000 and businessman fined £15,000 after baler crushes legs

A scrap metal company and a businessman were fined on 24 June 2014 after a worker lost both legs in a baler.
H Ripley & Co were fined £94,633 (inc. costs) and John Platt fined £15,000.
The circumstances were:
  • H Ripley bought the 5m long baling machine in 2008, second-hand and fire-damaged.
  • They needed to get the radio control system re-built and they engaged John Platt to do this.
  • The remote control, manufactured and installed by John Platt, had several serious flaws. 
  • Once the baler doors started closing, the remote control failed to activate to stop them. 
  • In addition the remote was not robust enough for the demands of working in a scrap metal yard.
  • The lack of suitable controls meant workers were able to get too close to the crushing and shearing hazards presented by the machine.
  • The baler, used to compact scrap metal, took only one minute and 15 seconds to go from ‘car to cube’. 
  • The maximum force of its doors was 180 tonnes.
  • The company's isolation procedure was totally inadequate.
  • On 24 May 2011, a worker was dealing with a problem inside the baler when the doors of the machine began to close. 
  • He tried to use a remote control to stop them, but it failed to respond.
  • He was unable to escape and one leg was severed; the other was severely crushed and was amputated later in hospital

The HSE Inspector said:
“This was a horrific incident in which a worker suffered the loss of both legs, endured a sixth-month period in hospital and who will now spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. It was also entirely preventable, H Ripley & Co had completely neglected to consider the risks and identify control measures needed to operate the machine safely. It had failed to ensure that there was a system to isolate the machine from power before anyone could get inside. It appears that no thought was given to the safety aspects of the remote units for the baler or the way they worked. Had original remotes been sourced or had John Platt manufactured fully functional alternatives, it is likely the incident would not have happened. There are well-known and significant risks in the waste and recycling sector and it is imperative that employers fully identify and recognise those risks on their sites and take the necessary action to protect their workforce from the dangers they present.” 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

4m fall from ladder after poorly organised work at height

Hedley Solutions Ltd, of Peterborough, was fined £10,296 (inc. costs) after a worker fell 4m from a ladder.
The circumstances were:

  • Employee Lee Rutherford was installing audio visual equipment at a school with a colleague. 
  • The work had not been properly assessed or planned by Hedley Solutions Ltd.
  • He was using a set of combination ladders.
  • The ladders were being used as an extension ladder.
  • The ladders had not been secured  
  • There was no effective anti-slip device or any other measure in use to provide stability.
  • While working at the top of the ladder, it slipped and he fell around four and a half metres to the floor
  • Mr Rutherford suffered fractures to his lower right leg and upper right arm, and a shattered elbow
  • He required reconstructive surgery and also developed serious side-effects in his left shoulder as a result of his treatment. .
The HSE Inspector said:
“The height of the ceiling in the hall at Filey Junior School was around five metres and the consequences of a fall from this height onto a wooden floor could have been fatal. As it was this young man suffered serious injuries from which he is still recovering. The real tragedy is that it could so easily have been avoided if Hedley Solutions Ltd had properly assessed and planned the work in advance. An assessment of the risks would have shown that due to the length of the task, the distance and consequences of a potential fall, and the work required, ladders were not appropriate and an alternative means of access could have been provided. Falling from height remains one of the biggest causes of death and major injury in the workplace. It is crucial that employers properly assess and plan any task that involves working from height and use the most appropriate work equipment which prevents a fall occurring. There is a wide selection of work equipment available that is designed specially for work at height and there is no excuse for putting workers at unnecessary risk of serious injury, or even death.”

Company fined over £8,000 for allowing workers to climb over HGV trailers

Boden & Davies Ltd., was fined £8,709 (inc. costs) on 20 June 2014 after allowing its employees to stand on the top of lorry trailers without safety measures in place to prevent a fall.
The circumstances were:
  • Workers climbed onto the top of trailers on several occasions to level the woodchip or if the covering sheet became snagged and could not be rolled out properly.
  • The company provided a built-in working platform at the front of the trailers but this did not comply with health and safety legislation.
  • Boden & Davies failed to provide adequate instructions or training to drivers on how to cover the loads safely.
  • There was no system in place for supervising the work.
  • Workers were also not always able to use the platform to complete the task and had to climb on top of the load instead.
  • They were at risk of falling up to four metres from the trailers onto a concrete yard.

The HSE Inspector said:
“Falls from height are the most common cause of workplace deaths in the UK and the lives of employees at Boden & Davies were put at risk every time they climbed on top of the lorry trailers. The company has since introduced a harness system which means its employees are properly protected when they carry out this work. If this system had been in place sooner then employees would not have been put in danger. It is vital firms take the risks from falls seriously and act now to improve safety rather than waiting for an HSE inspection or – in the worst case scenario – someone to be seriously injured or killed.”

Packaging firm fined £73,000 for "appalling" safety standards

Packaging firm Europlast (Blackburn) Ltd., was fined £73,100 (inc.costs) after an employee had part of a finger amputated
The HSE described the safety standards as "appalling".
The circumstances were:
  • Europlast have a history of poor safety performance.
  • The HSE first made Europlast aware of the need to guard dangerous machine parts during a visit to the site in September 2009
  • In July 2011 an external health and safety consultant highlighted ‘intolerable risks’ from missing guards on machines at the factory.
  • The consultant stressed the importance of implementing his findings when he returned to the site later in the year, after it became clear that no action had been taken.
  • 2 workers suffered injuries when their hands became trapped in machinery in September 2011 and April 2012.
  • Numerous safety guards were missing or disabled on machines.
  • Workers had not been given suitable training.
  • On 6 June 2012 an employee was working on a machine used to produce bubble wrap.
  • He was trying to remove small pieces of plastic which had become stuck when his hand was pulled in between two rollers.
  • It remained trapped for several minutes before another employee eventually found the emergency stop button.
  • He suffered burns and crush injuries to his hand, required skin grafts and had to have the top half of his middle finger amputated. 

The HSE Inspector said:
“The injured worker has only ever carried out manual work but his prospects of employment are now severely affected, as he can no longer use to his hand to hold, grab or lift anything properly. When we visited the factory following the incident, we found an appalling state of health and safety with no safe system of work in place for any of the machines. What’s even more shocking is that the company had failed to take any action to improve safety despite receiving numerous warnings and at least two other workers also suffering injuries. There appears to have been a complete absence of any attempt to organise or control health and safety at the factory, with the company apparently showing a total lack of care about the safety of its employees.”

IBC Vehicles fined nearly £180,000 after crane operator was crushed

IBC Vehicles Ltd., a vehicle manufacturer was fined nearly £180,000 (inc. costs) on 23 June 2014 after a crane operator suffered severe crush injuries in a lifting operation.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on a crane in the press shop.
  • The protective frame around the control levers of the crane designed to prevent inadvertent operation was missing.
  • 10 cranes in the press shop had previously missed annual examinations by as much as 12 months.
  • Some failed to have identified maintenance issues acted upon. 
  • The provision of training and information for employees was inadequate to ensure that lifting operations were carried out safely.
  • On 1 July 2011 the crane operator lowered an eight-tonne die block into its storage position, 
  • He was unhooking it from the crane’s lifting chains when the 50-tonne crane started to move, dragging the block towards him and crushing him against another block behind him.
  • He suffered multiple injuries including fractures to the upper left arm, breastbone, right collarbone and ribs; as well as collapsed lungs. He was hospitalised for two weeks and has had numerous operations since.

The HSE Inspector said:
“There were multiple failings on the part of IBC Vehicles Ltd. Cranes had not been maintained or inspected properly, operators had not been given adequate information or regular training, and lifting operations were not properly planned, including in particular the systems for daily checks on the equipment, to ensure the lifts were then carried out safely. Although only a small number of these failings may have contributed towards the incident in July 2011, as a whole they had the potential to create a serious risk to which many employees at the company would have been exposed for some considerable time.”

Friday, 20 June 2014

Electrician loses tips of 2 fingers after slipping and contacting unguarded conveyor drive.

Leeds-based Country Style Foods Ltd was fined £9,294 (inc. costs) after a worker suffered serious injuries to his hand when it came into contact with the drive chain of a conveyor.
The circumstances were:
  • The guard on a conveyor had been removed some time previously
  • There was an accumulation of ice on the floor due to a problem with the freezer doors. 
  • The ice had not been cleared so the floor was very slippery
  • A worker slipped on the icy floor.
  • He instinctively put out his right hand to steady himself but as he did so it struck the drive chain of the moving conveyor, taking the tips off two of his fingers down to the first joint, and injuring a third

The HSE Inspector said:   “This worker’s injuries should not and need not have happened. This incident was easily preventable had Country Style Foods Ltd ensured safety guards were in place on the machinery. The company should also have taken steps to prevent the accumulation of ice on the freezer floor. Guards and safety systems are there for a reason, and companies have a legal duty of care to ensure they are properly fitted and working effectively at all times. Slips and trips are the biggest cause of major injuries in the food and drink industry with 37% of all major accidents in the industry being as a result of slips.”

Company fined £22,000 after 630kg fan unit falls onto worker

Wilden Services Limited, a Hertfordshire engineering firm has been fined £22,148 (inc. costs) after a toppling fan unit crushed a worker as it was being manoeuvred into a plant room.
The circumstances were:
  • Wilden Services had been sub-contracted to install a ventilation system in a new- build head office for the World Wildlife Fund.
  • On 17 December 2012, a large fan unit weighing 630kg was being moved on a pallet truck.
  • It fell over and pinned him underneath.
  • This could have been prevented had a better system of work been in place.

The HSE inspector said:
“The employee was seriously injured and could have been paralysed had his spinal cord been damaged by the falling unit. Companies should always ensure that extreme care is taken when moving heavy items, and that includes properly assessing the risks in advance and agreeing a safe system of work. The incident was entirely avoidable with better planning and management.”

Company fined over £30,000 for isolation failings

GBN Services Ltd., an Essex waste and recycling company was fined £30,777(inc. costs) on 19th June 2014 after a worker suffered crush injuries when his arm was caught in an unguarded moving conveyor belt.
The circumstances were:
  • GBN Services, which has five recycling sites, had failed to implement its own isolation and lock-off procedures at this site.
  • The company had previously been served with a number of enforcement notices, including one for a similar guarding failing at another site.
  • On 29 May 2013, a worker was attempting to realign the in-feed conveyor belt on a
    newly-installed waste separating machine. 
  • Power to the machine had been turned off and a protective guard removed to enable access to the belt.
  • After finishing the task, the worker reactivated the power to the machine without refitting the guard.
  • His left arm was drawn in between the two belts, and he suffered crush injuries.

The HSE Inspector said:
“Incidents involving unguarded machinery are all too common and the onus is on employers to ensure safe and robust systems of work are in place to protect workers from dangerous moving parts of machinery. GBN Services failed to heed previous advice from HSE relating to conveyor guarding at its other sites. There are several deaths and 40,000 injuries each year due to incidents where workers have been using machines, and most of these are easily prevented. Guards and safety systems are required for a reason, and companies have a legal duty of care to ensure they up to scratch and working effectively at all times. In this case, it was not even necessary to remove the conveyor guard to adjust the belt as the design meant the belt could be adjusted with the guard still in place. However, the worker was not aware as staff had not been trained to repair or maintain the machine.”

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Revocation of mandatory removal of R22 by end of 2014

The Environmental Protection (Controls on Ozone-Depleting Substances) Regs 2011 remove the previous mandatory requirement to cease using HCFCs by 31st December 2014.  The most common HCFC (hydrochlorofluorocarbon) is R22.

The 2011 regulations revoked entirely the Environmental Protection (Controls on Ozone-Depleting Substances) Regs 2002 and Environmental Protection (Controls on Ozone-Depleting Substances) (Amendment) Regs 2008 which were the ones that specified the date by which HCFCs must be removed.

Instead of the mandatory replacement of R22 and other HCFCs by the end of this year, it will become progressively more difficult to maintain such devices as virgin R22 cannot be used.
R22 recovered by the operator (ie the company that maintains air conditioning equipment or chillers) can be used, but this will become progressively unavailable. You cannot trade R22.

The 2011 regulations require compliance with Regulation (EC) 1005/2009, and are specific about several articles in these regulations.  The one which affects most people is
Article 23 Leakage and Emissions of Controlled Substances and the clauses which affect most are as follows: 

23(1) states that companies must take al precautions to prevent and minimise leakages.

23(2) states that companies must inspect equipment at the following frequency:

Inspection frequency
3kg or more
Every 12 months
30 kg or more
Every 6 months
300 kg or more
Every 3 months

and repair detected leakage as soon as possible and certainly within 14 days.

23(2) states that companies must maintain records on quantities moved, leakages, leakage checks including dates and by whom.

Article 5(1) states that "The placing on the market and use of controlled substances shall be prohibited."  This sounds like a show-stopper, but it is really aimed at firms that produce equipment that contains such substances and stops them using R22 and other HCFCs.  
Article 5(3) states that it "does not apply to controlled substances in products and equipment", so if you already have equipment containing R22, etc., you can keep on using it.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Company fined for second time in a year after forklift truck overturns.

Radford HMY Group Ltd was fined £8,824 (inc. costs) on 9 June 2014 and served with an Improvement Notice after a forklift truck overturned.  The company had also been fined £2,000 in October 2013 after a worker’s hand was badly crushed in a machine on which a safety guard had been deliberately disabled.
The circumstances of this accident were:
  • The forklift truck was driven on an outside path which was only 0.4m wider than the truck, and was raised above the adjacent ground.
  • The driver was not assessed or authorised to operate the truck and had not been made familiar with the controls.
  • He had been taken on as a cleaner with no requirement for him to operate a forklift truck.
  • On 27 June 2012, the forklift truck fell off the path and overturned.
  • The driver was not hurt.

The HSE Inspector said:  

“This incident was entirely preventable and it is extremely fortunate that the driver was not seriously injured.  “Radford HMY Group Ltd had failed to adequately assess the risks to employees using this path and the operator in this instance had received no training at all in the use of a forklift truck. The case is all the more serious as it is the second time in less than a year that Radford HMY Group Ltd has been prosecuted for safety failings. Every year, there are numerous incidents involving transport in the workplace, many of which result in people being injured or even killed. People can fall from vehicles, and can be knocked down, run over, or crushed against fixed parts, plant and trailers.”

Monday, 9 June 2014

Overview of forklift truck accidents

Scarcely a week goes by without details of another forklift truck accident.
In general, these can be categorised as:

  1. People hit by forklift truck.
  2. People nearby hit by load as it falls
  3. Drivers hit by overturning truck.

Of these, [1] and [2] are the most common.  Let's have a look at some examples:

ECO Plastics Ltd., a plastics recycling company was fined £17,761 (inc.costs) after a worker was stuck by a reversing forklift truck.

LP Foreman & Sons or Chelmsford was fined £7621 (inc. costs) on 1st April after a worker was hit be a forklift truck.

Tangerine Confectionery Ltd., of Blackpool were fined £129,538 (inc.costs) on 28 April 2014 after a forklift truck pierced a worker's foot.

Category 2
A forklift truck operator has been prosecuted on 8 May 2014 for safety failings after a teenager was seriously injured by a falling heater.

Hugh Logan Plant and Engineering Services Ltd was fined £16,000 and Falburn Engineering Ltd fined £10,000 after an accident when a person was hit during forklift truck lifting operations.

Category 3
Murfitts Industries Ltd, a rubber granual manufacturer of Lakenheath were fined nearly £28,000 (inc.costs) on 24th April after a forklift truck overturned.

The lessons are quite clear:

  • Keep forklift trucks and pedestrians apart
  • There is no reason why anyone should be "within range" during lifting operations.
  • Use only trained drivers
  • Minimise movements with the forks raised.
  • Use seatbelts if overturning is possible.

Worker hit by forklift truck at plastics recycling plant

ECO Plastics Ltd., a plastics recycling company was fined £17,761 (inc.costs) after a worker was stuck by a reversing forklift truck.
The circumstances were:
  • ECO Plastics had designated a separate walkway for pedestrians to use within the waste processing building. 
  • However, they allowed the walkway in the ‘Goods Out’ warehouse to be taped off and blocked with building materials and equipment whilst construction work was being carried out.
  • As a result, employees had to share a route used by loaded forklift vehicles which were regularly manoeuvring and reversing.
  • ECO Plastics took no steps to provide or redirect their employees to an alternative, safe pedestrian route, inside or outside the warehouse.
  • Robin Eddom was walking through the ‘Goods Out’ warehouse when he was hit by the reversing vehicle.
  • He was taken to hospital by air ambulance with internal bleeding, two damaged vertebrae in his lower spine and extensive tissue damage to his back, shoulders, neck, thighs and knees.

The HSE inspector said:
“This could so easily have been a fatal incident. Mr Eddom has been left with devastating physical and psychological injuries, which have forced an earlier retirement from work and will leave him in discomfort for the rest of his life. The incident was entirely preventable. Mr Eddom should have been able to use the designated walkway provided within the building, but this was not possible as this walkway was completely blocked by stored building materials and equipment. The dangers associated with vehicle movements around pedestrians are well-known in the industry. However, ECO Plastics failed to recognise the dangers the blocked walkway had created or provide adequate control measures to ensure the warehouse could be safely accessed by pedestrians while construction work was underway.”

Concrete product company fined after mould collapses

Milbank Concrete Products Ltd., an Essex firm which makes precast concrete stairs was fined £13,857 (inc. costs) on 3rd June 2014 after four employees fell when a stair mould collapsed beneath them.
The circumstances were:
  • The employees were working on a new precast concrete staircase and standing on a supporting frame, known as a ‘ski-slope'.
  • The stair mould was inadequately supported during the work.
  • As concrete was being poured into the mould to create the stairs, five props supporting the ski-slope collapsed, causing the four men to fall from heights ranging from 1m to 3m.

The HSE Inspector said:
“This incident could have been more serious. It could also have been easily prevented if it had been properly planned, assessed for risks, and sufficient training given. Having not carried out a proper risk assessment, Milbank Concrete Products therefore failed to have a safe system of work in place for the job and four workers were injured as a result.”

HGV driver hit by falling beams during unloading operation

Hugh Logan Plant and Engineering Services Ltd was fined £16,000 and Falburn Engineering Ltd fined £10,000 after an accident when I person was hit during forklift truck lifting operations.
The circumstances were:
  • Kevin Bradley was an HGV driver for Hugh Logan Plant and Engineering Services Ltd.
  • He had delivered beams to Falburn Engineering Ltd’s premises on 6 October 2010. 
  • He was working with a Falburn forklift truck driver on the unloading operation.
  • He was standing on the flatbed trailer when the forklift began to raise the second bundle.
  • As it was lifted, the steel became unstable and rolled away from the forklift truck. 
  • The metal strapping broke and the beams separated, falling towards Mr Bradley. 
  • He attempted to jump out of the way but was hit by one of the beams which trapped his feet against the flatbed trailer. 
  • Mr Bradley fell towards the ground with his feet still trapped and put his right hand down to break his fall.
  • All four fingers on his right hand were shattered and he had a laceration across his palm which damaged the nerves, exposed the tendons and cut the blood supply to his fingers. 
  • He underwent a 12-hour emergency operation to save and rebuild his right hand but he has yet to regain sufficient function in his right hand to return to work as an HGV driver and may never do so.
  • The beams should not have been lifted until Mr Bradley had returned to the ground and was in a safe position. Both companies had compromised safety by neglecting to fully assess the risks involved in unloading the steel beams.

Hugh Logan Plant and Engineering Services Ltd failed to:
  • make a sufficient assessment of the risks to employees involved in the delivery and unloading of steel;
  • provide necessary information, instruction, training and supervision to ensure the safety of workers delivering and unloading steel;
  • liaise with Falburn Engineering Ltd to ensure a safe system of work for unloading steel was in place and that the driver’s role had been agreed.
Falburn Engineering Ltd failed to:
  • make a sufficient assessment of the risks to visiting workers during unloading of steel;
  • liaise with Hugh Logan Plant and Engineering Services Ltd to ensure a safe system of work for unloading steel was in place and that the driver’s role had been agreed.
The HSE Inspector said:
“This was an entirely avoidable incident. The dangers associated with the delivery and unloading of steel, in particular the risks associated with the use of a forklift to carry out the task and the risk of being struck by falling loads, are well-known in the industry and readily foreseeable. It is clear there was no meaningful discussion between Falburn Engineering Ltd and Hugh Logan Plant and Engineering Services Ltd about how the delivery would be unloaded, by whom, and using what equipment. In effect, the employee who agreed to unload the delivery and Mr Bradley were left to their own devices to undertake the task in whatever way they thought most appropriate. Unfortunately, the method used on the day was far from safe and Mr Bradley was seriously injured as a result.”