Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Hanson Packed Products fined £780,000 after fatality due to inadequate guarding

Manufacturing company Hanson Packed Products Ltd was fined £779,511 (inc.costs) after a 26 year old worker was fatally crushed when his arm was caught in a powered roller.
The circumstances were:
  • On 25 September 2013 William Ridge was clearing sand around the base of an in-feed conveyor.
  • There should have been fixed guards surrounding the powered roller to prevent access to the dangerous moving parts. 
  • However, a critical guard was not in place and had not been for several days.
  • There had been issues with the machinery on the previous day which Mr Ridge was trying to rectify at the time of the incident.
  • His right arm was drawn into the roller and he suffered fatal injuries.

The HSE Principal Inspector said:
“This death of a young worker could and should have been prevented. Where safety depends on guards, employers need to regularly inspect them and be confident they are properly in place and that they are effective. Our thoughts are with the Ridge family as they prepare for another Christmas without William.”

Linde fined £64,000 after 21 employees were diagnosed with hand-arm vibration syndrome

Merthyr Tydfil based Linde Heavy Truck Division Ltd manufacturer was fined £64,793.60 (inc.costs) after 21 employees were left permanently injured after being diagnosed with hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).
The circumstances were:
  • There had been no recognition of the risks from hand-arm vibration and no effective management of these risks over many years.
  • The duties of employers regarding hand-arm vibration have been very clearly set out for many years, yet the company failed to implement the necessary measures.
  • In 2011 Linde appointed a new health and safety manager who recognised the need to put measures in place to manage HAVS, including health surveillance. These measures had not been in place before.
  • A total of 21 employees were diagnosed with HAVS and this was reported to HSE under RIDDOR.
  • The employees that are affected by HAVS suffer symptoms such as tingling, pins and needles, numbness and pain in their hands. This affects sleep when it occurs at night and they have difficulties in gripping and holding things, particularly small items such as screws, doing up buttons, writing and driving.
  • The biggest impact on the employees’ lives was that the factory closed down at the end of 2013 and they were made redundant.

The HSE Inspector said:
“The employees were exposed to the risk of hand arm vibration on a daily basis yet Linde Heavy Truck Division failed to recognise this. 
There was no health surveillance to identify employees who might already have some vibration damage even though they employed ex-miners and experienced fitters, or to pick up whether someone was suffering symptoms before they became serious. From 2000, when the factory opened, until its closure in 2013 there was never a fully compliant management system for hand arm vibration and 21 employees have suffered life changing injuries as a result.”

Specialist Paint Coatings fined £10,324 for failure to control lead

Specialist Paint Coatings Limited, a company who specialises in paint coatings was fined £10,324 (inc.costs) for failing to control risks involved with shot blasting lead-based paint.
The circumstances were:
  • Specialist Paint Coatings was refurbishing 72 metal window frames at premises on High Street, Newport. 
  • This included the high pressure shot blasting old lead based paint.
  • There was an inadequate risk assessment and a lack of control measures to reduce the risk of exposing workers and others to lead.

Tata Chemicals Europe Limited and Capper Industrial Contractors (CIC) fined a total of £425,000 after 2 incidents.

Tata Chemicals Europe Limited (TCEL) was fined £408,224 (inc.costs) and Capper Industrial Contractors (CIC) fined £13,000 (inc. costs) following safety failings on two separate occasions.
Incident 1:
  • On 30 May 2012, at the TCEL plant in Lostock a CIC employee was operating an open fronted vehicle to shovel a mound of hot/wet lime. 
  • This slumped into the open cab.

Incident 2:
  • On 3 May 2013 at the TCEL Winnington Plant an employee of TCEL was on a walkway eight feet high.
  • TCEL did not have an adequate inspection regime for the walkway, and did not ensure it was maintained in good condition.
  • The grating failed and the employee fell through and became trapped up to his waste in a corroded section of the grating, fortunately without serious injury.

The HSE inspector said:
“Both of these incidents could have been entirely prevented with regular assessment of risks, inspection of work equipment and ensuring correct safety procedures were in place.”

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Fines totalling £524,000 for two companies following double fatality on conveyor belt

Two North West companies were fined £227,000 and £297,000 (inc. costs) following the death of two workers at a Merseyside woodchip factory.
The circumstances were:
  • Metso Paper Ltd. were engaged on replacing a conveyor belt at Sonae Industria (UK) Ltd’s Merseyside plant.
  • They used James Bibby, a self-employed contractor.
  • Sonae Industria (UK) Ltd’s had not properly assessing the risks associated with the work on the conveyor
  • They had not shared these with contractors, 
  • They did not have in place a proper process for managing contractors 
  • They did not have in place a procedure for isolating dangerous machinery,
  • They had failed to train or check the competence of workers.
  • Valmet Ltd took over Metso Ltd in 2013. Metso Ltd had failed to ensure the site its workers were visiting had sufficient risk assessments and processes in place. 
  • Metso also failed to ensure its workers and contractors had adequate training for the tasks to be carried out or provided with the necessary information on the work they were being asked to perform.
  • On 7 December 2010 Thomas Elmer, employed at the time by Metso Paper Ltd., and Mr Bibby had been asked to replace part of conveyor belt. 
  • While carrying out the work the conveyor suddenly and unexpectedly started to operate, dragging both men into the machinery causing catastrophic fatal injuries to both men.

The HSE Principal Inspector said:
“James Bibby and Thomas Elmer should not have died. This is perhaps the most horrific case I have ever had to deal with and has had a devastating effect on both families. 
Carrying out straightforward risk assessments is about protecting workers from serious harm, suffering life-changing injuries or, in this tragic case, death. If both companies had put in place the simple steps to protect their workers’ safety these two young men would still be with us today.”

Newport company fined £23,000 after crush injury during fault-finding

F C Brown (Steel Equipment) Limited of Newport, a company which manufactures office equipment, was fined £23,401 (inc. costs) after a trainee worker was injured when he was crushed by a metal folding machine.
The circumstances were:
  • There were insufficient measures taken by the company to control the risks associated with its maintenance activities.
  • An employee entered the guarded area of a metal folding machine to fix a fault. 
  • Whilst in this area he was crushed between the fixed body of the machine and the machine’s moving manipulator arm, causing serious injury.
  • The incident shattered all of the worker’s right-hand side ribs and broke two ribs on his left side. 
  • He was in hospital for two months.

The HSE inspector said:
“The injury could easily have been avoided had F C Brown (Steel Equipment) Limited provided sufficient training and an adequate level of supervision to make sure safety measures were in place when machinery maintenance activities were being undertaken.”

Company fined £24,000 for ignoring improvement notice

DM Accident Repair Centre Limited of Neath, an accident repair company, was been fined £24,666 (inc.costs) after it failed to comply with an improvement notice.
The circumstances were:
  • The company had been using a spray booth to spray isocyanate paints, and the spray booth had not been inspected by a competent person.
  • The company had a routine inspection by an inspector from the Health and Safety Executive from which an improvement notice was served. 
  • The owner, who had been uncooperative, failed to comply with the notice, 
  • This was despite several efforts by HSE staff to explain the need for compliance and how to comply.

Company fined for excess exposure to gamma rays

Applied Inspection Limited, a company that carries out non-destructive testing was fined £5,914 (inc.costs) for failings in the way it carried out gamma radiography work.
The circumstances were:
  • There were inadequate safeguarding standards for gamma radiography work on one enclosure
  •  Work procedures, risk assessments and local rules were insufficient.
  • The passive personal radiation dosimeter (Thermo Luminescent Dosimeter / TLD badge) of an employee who worked in this enclosure registered an overexposure, which was above the annual statutory limit.
  • The company and employee were unable to explain why the TLD badge came back with a high reading. Therefore, it cannot be ruled out that the employee did not receive a radiation overdose for the period in question.
  • The other ‘gamma enclosures’ on site had the correct guarding standards.

The HSE inspector said:
“The basic principle on which the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 are based is that there is no safe dose of ionising radiation. Due to the hazards and risks associated with carrying out industrial radiography work it is critical that companies ensure that all aspects of it are carried out diligently and with the highest level of integrity, engineering safety devices and management control systems to enable the risks to be controlled to as low as reasonably practicable.”

Workers hand caught in cropping machine

Truck-Lite Company Limited, who produce lights for trucks was fined £4,069 (inc. cost) after a workers’ hand was injured in a cropping machine.
  • Truck-Lite Company Limited had failed to prevent access to dangerous parts of the machine or stop the movement of those dangerous parts.
  • On 3 October 2013, the machine unexpectedly began to operate while an agency worker's hands were in the ‘danger zone’, between the press and die set.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Strategic Safety Systems Ltd. - Low risk

At Strategic Safety Systems Ltd., we often get mistaken for companies with a similar name.
This has been beneficial as people have struggled to contact these companies and, being easy to contact, we've picked up their business.

Please note that 3 of these companies have financial warnings on Experian Business Express Alerts.  These are:

  • Specialist Safety Solutions - Risk score = 8, Maximum risk.
  • Strategic Safety Solutions - Risk score = 0, Serious adverse information
  • Strategic Safety Services - Risk score = 20, High risk

At Strategic Safety Systems Ltd., our risk score is 86, Low risk.

Don't get us mixed up with the others. We're going to be around for a long time.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Waste company fined £120,000 after accident on moving conveyor belt

Waste and recycling company F&R Cawley Limited was fined £120,763 (inc. costs) after a worker suffered serious fractures when his arm was dragged into the rollers of a moving conveyor belt. 
The circumstances were:
  • The company’s procedures for lock-off/isolation and clearing blockages were inadequate. 
  • A previous inspection by HSE in 2012 requested the company to review their blockage processes after it was observed they were not following safe procedures. The potential for a breakdown in communication between the blockage team and the person in the control room was also discussed. 
  • The company provided a new documented procedure but the court heard it fell into disuse within weeks. 
  • The computer system in the control room had not been working properly for some time and walkie-talkie radios were faulty.
  • Blockage team members were inadequately supervised and trained. In addition the injured worker was not suitably trained to work as a mechanic.
  • On 28 February 2014, the 32-year-old employee was asked to clear a blockage on a material recycling facility machine (MRF). 
  • The control room operator turned off the power to the machine but the company’s lock-off and isolation procedure had not been followed on site for some time. 
  • As attempted to remove a bit of waste from the rollers the power was turned back on by the control room operator and his arm was pulled into the rollers. 
  • He sustained serious fractures and required three metal plates in his left arm which he is still unable to use. He will need further operations involving transplanting bone from his hip – with no guarantee of success, it is unlikely he will be able to do manual work again. 
  • The judge was satisfied that HSE’s 2012 intervention constituted a “warning that was ignored” and that if they had followed their own procedure, the chance of this accident happening was remote. 

The HSE Inspector said: 
“This worker has been left unable to work following an incident that could easily have been avoided if the company had ensured their staff were properly trained and supervised. This man used to enjoy cycling with his two children but now can’t do this or any other active play with them”. 

Dundee company fined after worker died from inhaling paint stripper fumes

Diamond Wheels (Dundee) Limited, of Nethergate, Dundee, was fined £50,000 after a worker died after inhaling fumes while cleaning a chemical stripping paint tank at a motor vehicle repair company. 
The circumstances were:
  • Steven Conway, 33, from Dundee, was employed by Diamond Wheels (Dundee) Limited to undertake general duties 
  • These duties included collections and deliveries, removing and replacing tyres, and moving alloy wheels into, and out of, the chemical stripping tank.
  • Mr Conway was provided with no formal training in respect of the use of the chemical stripping tank and the chemical stripping agent used by the company. 
  • Instead he was given ‘on the job’ training. 
  • On 18 August 2011, he was attempting to remove stripping debris from within the chemical stripping tank.
  • He was overcome by dichloromethane vapour while and died as a result of his exposure to those vapours. 

Lorry driver hit by pallet falling from a forklift truck

Logistics company CWT Commodities (UK) Limited, of Tilbury Docks was fined £26,639 (inc. costs)  after a lorry driver was injured when he was hit by a pallet that fell from a fork lift truck. 
The circumstances were:
  • Although a risk assessment for unloading vehicles using forklift trucks had been undertaken, it did not specifically detail a risk to visiting drivers. 
  • It did indicate that the driver should return to his cab, or to stand a ‘safe distance’ away from the operation.
  • However, it was common for visiting lorry drivers to stand next to their cabs or in the vicinity of the forklift truck, so the outcome action of the risk assessment was not robustly or consistently implemented.
  • On 19 December 2014 Darren Andrews, a 49-year-old employee of a transport services firm was making a delivery to CWT in a lorry. 
  • The delivery consisted of a shrink-wrapped pallet of a number of boxes containing castor wheels sitting on top of a wooden case
  • CWT forklift driver was offloading the delivery from the lorry’s trailer. 
  • Having reversed clear of the trailer, the pallet fell to the side of the forklift truck, striking the Mr Andrews as he was standing to the side of the cab watching the operation. 
  • Mr Andrews suffered significant, life threatening injuries as a result of the impact and was airlifted to Royal London Hospital where he stayed for three weeks. 
  • He was transferred again to a Bristol hospital for a further week. The incident has had profound and long-term effects on him and he will be unable to return to work as a HGV driver. 

Saturday, 31 October 2015

HSE "complex case" prosecutions double for year ended April 2015

The number of prosecutions brought by the unit within the HSE responsible for complex cases in England and Wales has more than doubled in the last three years. The unit brought 52 prosecutions in the year to April 2015, up from 24 three years previously.
Fines between £100,000 and £500,000 are becoming increasingly common in cases where the breach causes a fatality, although larger companies can expect to pay more than £1 million. Company directors or secretaries, managers or other similar officers, found guilty of "consent or connivance" in relation to a breach, or if the breach is attributable to their  neglect, face unlimited fines and prison sentences of up to two years.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Lodematic fined £42,000 after worker was blinded in one eye by a flailing hydraulic hose

Lodematic Components Ltd, a Clitheroe hydraulic cylinder manufacturer, was fined £42,835  after an employee was badly injured when he was struck in the face during a test procedure.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred when pressure testing a hydraulic cylinder.
  • The test zone was not segregated or safeguarded. 
  • The test equipment was not maintained and suitable for the task. 
  • Lodematic Components had also failed to carry out a risk assessment.
  • On 23 January 2014 a worker was helping pressure test a cylinder.
  • The hose connector to the cylinder catastrophically failed and he was struck in the face by a pressurised hose. 
  • The worker suffered a broken jaw multiple facial lacerations and total blindness in his right eye.

The HSE inspector said:“Lodematic (Components) Limited failed to assess the risks or provide a safe system of work for pressure testing hydraulic cylinders. The test was carried out without segregating or safeguarding the test zone, and the test connectors were not subject to maintenance or inspection. If these measures had been in place at the time of the incident then the employee’s life changing injuries could have been avoided.”

Worker loses 2 fingers in circular saw

Countrywide Farmers PLC, a national company specialising in products and services to rural communities was fined £35,157 (inc. costs) after a worker was injured in a woodworking machinery incident.
The circumstances were:
  • On 3 September 2014, a worker’s hand came into contact with the blade of a rotating circular saw.
  • As a result, he lost 2 fingers on his left hand.

The HSE inspector said:
“This incident and the disfiguring injury that it caused resulted from basic failings in the appreciation and control of a well-known hazardous operation. 
Necessary guidance and physical means to carry out the work safely were both readily and cheaply available, and the firm should have provided both. Had the person in control been well informed and provided with competent supporting advice, this incident would not have happened.”

Pellet manufacturing company fined £300,000 after employee was killed in a blender

Rettenmaier UK Manufacturing Limited, a Mansfield pellet manufacturing company, was been fined £300,000 (inc. costs) after an employee was killed when he was pulled into an industrial blender. 
The circumstances were:
  • The blender was part of a process line in which shredded recycled paper was mixed with bitumen and oil before being pressed into pellets, dried and bagged. 
  • The line was installed on a number of floors and was computer controlled with control screens on two floors.
  • There was no computer control screen on the same floor as the blender with the control screen in use at the time of the accident on the floor below. 
  • There was no line of sight from this control screen to the blender. 
  • When the line was running, the factory was noisy.
  • There was no written system of work or instructions for isolation and no instruction to lock off isolators. 
  • There were no manuals or written instructions for operating plant. 
  • There was no proper training for staff. 
  • There were no risk assessments for any work on the plant.
  • On 21 January 2011, George Major was helping to clear a blockage from machinery.
  • A guard had been removed from the machine.
  • It had not been isolated and locked off from the electricity supply. 
  • The line unexpectedly started up and Mr Major was dragged into the blender and killed.  

The HSE Inspector said:“Mr Major’s death was entirely avoidable and his life was needlessly lost. The failings by Rettenmaier UK Manufacturing Ltd caused a fatality in particularly distressing circumstances.  The absence of an effective health and safety management system, including a lack of a safe system of work for equipment isolation and lock-off, risk assessment and proper training for staff, meant that all workers at the site were at risk. This tragic incident could have so easily been avoided if a few simple steps had been taken by the company.”

Sita fined £211,000 after employee was hit by a telehandler

Recycling firm Sita UK Limited was fined £211,998 (inc.costs) after an employee was struck by a 7.5 tonne telehandler. 
The circumstances were:
  • Sita UK Limited failed to provide adequate segregation between pedestrians and moving vehicles at a waste transfer station in Darwen, Lancashire.
  • As an employee walked across an outside plastics hand sorting area, he passed behind a stationary telehandler. 
  • The telehandler began to reverse and struck the worker who was knocked to the ground and then run over by the rear wheel of the vehicle. 
  • His resulting injuries caused him to be hospitalised for two months.

The HSE inspector said: 
“Employers need to look carefully at their workplaces regularly to make sure that pedestrian routes are clearly marked and physically separated from vehicle routes wherever possible. The employee could have easily been killed and still has severe mobility problems as a result of the accident. He is unlikely to be able to work in the near future.”

Logistics company fined £20,000 after worker was hit by a forklift truck

UCH Logistics Limited was fined £20,942 (inc.costs) after a worker was hit by a fork-lift truck in a busy yard and suffered head injuries.
The circumstances were:
  • The yard had been resurfaced a few years earlier and no markings were put in place to segregate vehicles and people.
  • CCTV footage from the site showed fork-lift trucks loading and unloading vans, with pedestrians routinely weaving between them
  • In September 2014, Andrew Elliss, an employee of UCH Logistics, was hit by a reversing fork-lift truck  and sustained head injuries that continue to have an effect on him to this day.

The HSE inspector who investigated and prosecuted this case said:
“Workplace transport incidents are the third highest cause of workplace fatalities, and accidents can be prevented if companies implement simple control measures. 
The need to walk through this area was clearly foreseeable and the risk from vehicle traffic was high. When I saw the CCTV footage, it was clear this was an accident waiting to happen.”

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Congratulations to one of our clients, Prinovis, for passing their stage 2 audit for ISO 50001 Energy Management at their Liverpool site.

Prinovis have carried out an extensive energy management programme and the systems provided by Strategic Safety Systems helped gain certification.

The systems are part of an integrated environmental, energy and health & safety management system provided by SSS and we are proud to have contributed to their success in ISO 50001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001.

More information on certification and other business improvement support can be found at .

Essex company fined £17,000 for failure to have statutory inspections carried out

Welsted Joinery Ltd of South Woodham Ferrers was been fined a total of £17,240 (inc.costs) for repeatedly failing to have statutory checks carried out.
The company failed to have checks done on:
  • Local exhaust ventilation (LEV) system for extracting wood dust and 
  • Lifting equipment on its rider operated trucks

Previous enforcement notices had been issued on these matters and others over a period of ten years identified in a number of inspection visits to the company.
The HSE inspector said:
“This case sends out a clear message that HSE will prosecute when Inspectors find serious health and safety failings particularly when previous enforcement and advice has been provided. This year HSE is targeting the woodworking industry because of the significant health risks associated with wood dust exposure. I strongly urge such businesses to consult the HSE website for further information to ensure that control of exposure is managed and their statutory duties are complied with”.

JLR fined £50,000 for lack of risk assessment

Car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover was fined £50,000 (inc. costs) for failing to have a risk assessment for an event which lead to an employee's death.
The circumstances were:
  • On 26 September 2011, Graham Begley was moving 24 tonne dies using a crane.
  • There was no risk assessment for the pre-lift process.
  • It is thought that the lifting chains snagged on the die, causing it to move towards him and crushing him.
  • It was accepted in court that the lack of risk assessment was not causative of Mr Begley’s death

The HSE head of operations for the north west said:
“A suitable risk assessment is an essential step in ensuring that the risks arising from work activities are properly controlled. 
This is particularly important where the work is hazardous and has the potential to result in serious harm. Employers are therefore reminded of their legal responsibility to identify the hazards and decide on the precautions that may be necessary.” 

Automotive company fined after employee suffers crush injury in carpet forming machine

International Automotive Components Limited, a West Midlands automotive components company was fined £9,190 (inc. costs) after an employee suffered crush injuries after entering a guarded area of a machine. 
The circumstances were:
  • On 13th Sepetmber 2014, an employee who had just been promoted from operator to tool changer, was maintaining a carpet forming machine.
  • While under supervision, he became trapped when the top hood of the carpet heating press descended on him while he was working.

There are no further details on this, but the only circumstances that this could happen are:
  1. Inadequate guarding
  2. Inadequate isolation/lock-out when entering this area, and/or
  3. Guarding interlocks overridden

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Gloucester Council hide behind health and safety "rules"

Refuse collectors at Gloucester City Council say health and safety rules stop them collecting bins which do not have the lid fully closed.
Gloucester City Council defended the policy and said bins in the city are emptied if the lid is fully closed.
Councillor Jim Porter, cabinet member for environment at Gloucester City Council, said: "The city council has a closed lid policy to stop too much waste going to landfill.
In other words, it's nothing to do with 'elf n safety, it's part of the environmental agenda
- See more at:

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Inadequate guarding leads to disfigurement and £12,000 fine.

Paulamar Company Ltd. a  Kirkintilloch manufacturer of foam plastics and rubber materials was fined £12,000 after a lack of guarding lead to a teenage worker being permanently disfigured. 
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on an adhesive backing machine with inadequate safety guarding.
  • On 28 January 2013, a 19-year-old worker was feeding flat foam sheets into the adhesive machine which had rollers with unguarded in-running nips.
  • One sheet curled up before it reached the rollers. 
  • The worker used his right hand to flatten the sheet but it stuck to the adhesive and was taken into the rollers.
  • The stop bar on the machine was hit and another employee manually moved the rollers up off his hand.   
  • He was taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary where doctors found he had suffered a broken knuckle on his middle finger and a broken index finger on his right hand, had deep lacerations to the palm of his hand with swelling and bruising to the back of his hand. 
  • He has been left with two visible scars and a burn mark on the back of his right hand and was off work for six months. 

Coilcolor fined £103,000 for cooling tower failings

Coilcolor Limited in Newport, a steel coating company in Newport, Gwent, was fined £103,393 (inc. costs) for failing to manage the risks from legionella bacteria from two cooling towers over a period of five years.
The circumstances were:
  • Coilcoler have cooling towers which require management to prevent the growth of legionella bacteria which is carried in water droplets. This can lead to fatal illnesses.
  • They had been operating two cooling towers on site without taking appropriate measures to control the risk of proliferation of the bacteria since 2009.
  • The risks from the operation of the cooling towers had not been assessed.
  • There was no written scheme.
  • The towers were in poor condition.
    Drift eliminators to reduce the spread of aerosol were missing.
  • There was no water treatment programme in place.
  • Staff had not been trained to appreciate and manage the risks.
  • Prohibition Notices were immediately served by the HSE inspector that prevented the cooling towers being used until all appropriate controls were put in place. 
  • Improvement Notices were then served with regard to risk assessment and management. 
The HSE Inspector said: 
“Operating cooling towers, without proper controls in place can present a significant risk to employees and members of the public; in this case the company operates next to a housing estate and within one kilometre of the Royal Gwent Hospital.” 

Chromalloy fined £177,000 for cooling tower failings

Chromalloy UK Limited, who refurbishes turbine blades at sites in Eastwood in Nottinghamshire and Somercotes in Derbyshire, was fined £177,252 (inc. costs) for failing to manage the risk to public and employees to potentially fatal legionella bacteria for over a year, from May 2011.
The circumstances were:
  • Both sites have cooling towers which require management to prevent the growth of legionella bacteria which is carried in water droplets. This can lead to fatal illnesses.
  • Two improvement notices were served on the company in 2008 seeking improvements on rusting towers and a number of management failures. All the notices were complied with.
  • A laboratory analysis of a water sample taken from the Somercotes site before the HSE investigation found legionella bacteria levels to be so high that immediate action was required to clean the system. 
  • As well as failing to maintain its infrastructure, Chromalloy did not keep biocides (chemicals which kill bacteria) at effective levels. 
  • An HSE inspector visited the Somercotes site in May 2012, 
  • During this visit, he felt spray on his face and saw the yard’s surface was wet and that nearby cooling towers were corroded. 
  • He extended his visit to the rest of the Somercotes factory plus the company’s site at Eastwood, and found significant failings in the company’s control, recording and management of legionella risks.
  • The HSE issued four improvement notices in June 2012 on Chromalloy requiring inlet screens to be placed on the cooling towers to stop debris falling in them which could encourage legionella growth, and for corroded items of plant to be replaced. 

The HSE inspector said:
“The company’s water treatment programme and associated management arrangements were found to be severely ineffective.  
Chromalloy UK Limited was grossly complacent in its attempts to manage the risks arising from legionella bacteria in its cooling towers at two separate locations. HSE intervened in 2008 but the company did not sustain any improvements made. There were serious risks to employees and members of the public becoming infected with legionnaires’ disease due to this company’s failure to do all that was reasonably practicable to control the proliferation of legionella bacteria in their cooling towers. Employers must understand the health risks associated with legionella and take the necessary precautions to control or reduce risks arising from evaporative cooling systems.” 

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Tyneside company fined for disabling guards, yet again

Mullins (Earby) Limited, a Jarrow engineering firm was fined £14,939 (inc. costs) for deliberately compromising the safety guards on machinery for production reasons.
The circumstances were:

  • The company uses computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines, including machining centres, milling machines and drilling machines, all of which have a sliding door which is interlocked to the machine control system.
  • The company had been served with HSE Improvement Notices regarding ineffective interlocks following an inspection in 2008 and a letter sent in 2012 highlighting similar issues
  • In February this year, an HSE inspector found the interlocks had been deliberately defeated on three CNC machining centres and a CNC milling machine and the interlock was broken on a CNC drilling machine.
The HSE inspector said:
“The deliberate defeating of safety devices in any workplace is not acceptable. 
This company had received advice on two previous occasions in relation to the guarding standards on CNC machines and had not taken appropriate action. HSE will not hesitate to take enforcement action against companies who continually flout health and safety law and put their employees at risk.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Timber firm fined after circular saw accident

Main Line Timber Limited, a timber gate manufacturer in Daventry was fined £11,000 (inc.costs) after a young employee lost two fingers on his left hand while working on machinery.
The circumstances were:
  • The company had failed to ensure that required safety features were installed on a circular saw and to maintain the condition of the top guard on the saw.
  • It was not fitted with a riving knife or ‘take off’ table.
  • There was an unsafe system of work in place.
  • In addition to these failings, employees did not received adequate training for use of the saw.
  • On 25 July 2014 a 27-year-old employee was working on the saw alone
  • He was both feeding and removing large pieces of timber from the saw when a piece of wood snagged and pulled his left hand into the blade. 
  • The employee’s left hand was severely injured, and his little finger and ring finger were subsequently amputated.   

The HSE Inspector  said: “Had the company taken suitable measures to ensure workers did not come into contact with the rotating blade, had the saw been properly guarded and fitted with relevant safety features and had employees been provided with adequate training, this young man would not have lost two of his fingers.” 

DS Smith fined £400,000 after death of worker

DS Smith Paper Ltd, was fined £434,761 (inc. costs) following the death of a manager who became trapped in unguarded machinery at a Devon paper mill.
The circumstances were:
  • DS Smith Paper failed to act on 73 urgent recommendations in a specialist safety report compiled 11 months before the accident.
  • Of these 73, there were 33 that should have been addressed within 24 hours. Many of the recommendations called for improved guards to prevent access to moving machinery.
  • Some of the concerns raised in the safety report were categorised as very high risk – needing attention within a day – and high risk – needing fixing within a week.
  • The accident occurred on  machine where paper pulp passed along a felt conveyor where water is squeezed out of the pulp mixture.
  • On 24 September 2011, creases were occurring in the paper.
  • It was common practice to climb on a work platform above the conveyor.
  • No risk assessment had been carried out for work which needed to be carried out to find the cause of creases and for working on the gantry.
  • There was no guarding on the belt.
  • John Stoddart, who was the company’s operations manager, was trying to identify a problem. 
  • He climbed onto the work platform to check if the creases were caused by problems on the moving felt belt.
  • Although no-one saw what exactly happened to Mr Stoddart, he apparently was smoothing out the felt when his hand became trapped in an in-running nip. 
  • There was no guard on the machinery and he was flipped into the machine, causing fatal crush injuries.
  • Suitable guarding was installed shortly after the accident.

The HSE Inspector said:
“DS Smith’s failure to guard a dangerous piece of moving machinery tragically cost Mr Stoddart his life and has left his family without a husband, father and brother. Potentially dangerous machinery should always be guarded and turned-off when workers need access to repair faults. A proper risk assessment would have highlighted these dangers and established safe practices for staff instead of putting their lives at risk.”

Friday, 24 July 2015

Technibond fined after worker loses finger in unguarded machine

Technibond Limited , an adhesive tape manufacturing company, was fined £6,766 (inc.costs) after a worker lost a finger in an unguarded machine.
The circumstances were:
  • A machine had unguarded in-running nips.
  • Perspex guards (supplied by the manufacturer) were available, but not fitted. 
  • Technibond was not aware that these guards were available, though instructions on using the guards are contained within the instruction manual.
  • On 19 August 2014 a worker was cleaning one of the machines whilst it was running. 
  • The cloth she was holding was drawn into the in-running nip which also caused her finger to be pulled in to the machine. 
  • The damage sustained resulted in her finger needing to be amputated.

The HSE Inspector  said:“Employers must ensure they prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery and in doing so they must consider hardware controls over information, instruction, training and supervision. However, where they do rely on these software controls they must ensure that they are effective to prevent anyone being harmed by the machinery.”

370 kg workpiece falls from forklift truck, causing leg fracture.

Paintshop Northern Limited, an HGV spray painting company, was fined £4991 (inc. costs) after an item fell from a forklift truck, causing a serious fracture to a worker's leg.
The circumstances were:
  • On 6 June 2014, two 370 Kg suspension arms were being spray painted.
  • Both of the arms were hanging down from the forks, near the tips, of a forklift truck.
  • These had been raised to a height of 2 metres to allow the spray painting to be done.
  • Neither of the two suspension arms had been secured to the forks of the truck by means of chains or slings. 
  • The worker on the factory floor was trying to assist the truck operator to get the painted suspension arms off the forks when one of them fell off knocking him over and fracturing his leg.

The HSE inspector said: “This employee had a serious injury that could have been far worse as a result of this company’s numerous failures. The whole operation using the fork lift truck to lift heavy materials in an unconventional way was unsafe from start to finish. The load carried needed to be secured to the truck and proper supervision in place to ensure that it was lowered to the ground in a safe way. The injury to this worker was entirely preventable.”

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Worker caught in folding/gluing line

Hipak Packaging Limited, a Buxton packaging company was fined £5,138 (inc. costs) after a worker sustained a serious injury to his right hand.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on a folding/gluing line for cardboard boxes.
  • In October 2013, an employee was cleaning a moving roller this line.
  • He reached inside and suffered serious damage to two fingers on his right hand.

The HSE Inspector said:“This accident was clearly avoidable. The company failed to provide a safe system of work for employees who needed to clean glue off rollers from their folding and gluing machine. It was left up to the employees to decide how they went about this and the company should have instructed and trained their staff in a safe procedure which involved ensuring the machine was isolated from power before employees put their hands inside it.”

Director removed guard from machine, which caused worker to lose his arm.

Mark Anton Arabaje, sole director of now-dissolved company Cartwright Projects Ltd., was given a 4-month suspended sentence and ordered to pay £5,000 compensation after a worker lost his right forearm when it got caught  in an unguarded tyre-shredding machine.
The circumstances were:
  • Mr Arabaje had removed removed the metal bucket guard of the shredding machine earlier the same month as the accident, thus allowing easy access to the metal teeth.
  • On 27 November 2013, Nathan Johnson was feeding this machine.
  • There were no emergency stop switches within his reach.
  • He had been putting tyres by hand into the shredder when the machine failed to grip one properly on its metal teeth. Mr Johnson grabbed the remaining half and fed it in. 
  • At that point, his right jacket sleeve got entangled on the metal teeth and his fingers and then forearm were dragged into the running shredder.
  • As Mr Johnson screamed for help, Mr Arabaje came and managed to switch the machine off and freed him from the machine.
  • He lost the forearm up to his elbow and needed extensive hospital treatment, including skin grafts from his left leg to replace the remains of his arm and a bolt in his elbow to ensure it remained intact.

The HSE stated that it would have also prosecuted the company had it still existed.
The HSE Inspector said:“Nathan Johnson would never have suffered these horrific, life-changing injuries if Mr Arabaje, the company director, had not removed the guard from the tyre-shredder. Company directors need to take their health and safety responsibilities seriously to prevent such tragic events occurring in the future. They have a significant role to play in protecting workers from injury at work; and this case demonstrates that such incidents can and do lead to directors being prosecuted if there is evidence of their consent, connivance or neglect to breaches in the law.”