Monday, 29 June 2015

Alexander Dennis fined £118,000 for ignoring hand-arm vibration problems

National bus and coach builder Alexander Dennis Ltd. was fined £118,643 (inc. costs) after it ignored multiple warnings about dangers of vibration from of hand-held power tools. 
The circumstances were:
  • For several years, the company persistently failed to heed expert advice, specialist reports and complaints from workers of pain, discomfort, numbness and whiteness in their fingers. 
  • These symptoms are typical of the type experienced by workers suffering from the permanent debilitating condition known as hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). 
  • There was uncontrolled exposure to hand-arm transmitted vibration in the case of up to 25 staff in the Plaxton motor vehicle repair workshops. 
  • There were no restrictions on the type of hand-held power tools employees used or the length of time they were allowed to operate them. 
  • One tool was 28 years’ old and a lack of maintenance meant tools were not running at the optimum level to minimise vibration. 
  • Workers were not provided with any information or instruction on how to minimise the risk from vibration and there was no health surveillance programme to check for early signs of HAVS among the workforce.
  • 9 workers at their Plaxton’s workshop were diagnosed with HAVS in 2012.
  • Since HSE’s intervention the company has taken action to assess the risk to their employees, provide better quality tools which are regularly maintained, train employees on how to protect themselves and provide regular health checks to pick up early signs of the disease. 

The HSE inspector said:
“Alexander Dennis continually ignored their employees’ symptoms which showed they were suffering from the effects of vibration caused by the extensive use of a variety of hand-held power tools – sanders, drills, grinders etc. It failed to heed recommendations from consultants they had engaged to assist in managing the health risks to employees, including the advice from occupational health professionals. 
At the same time, the company was fully aware that successful civil claims had been brought by employees. Despite all this, Alexander Dennis continued to expose employees to an uncontrolled risk. The risks associated with the use of hand-held power tools and of developing HAVS and carpel tunnel syndrome are well recognised in the industry. There has been written guidance from HSE since 1994 and specific regulations setting out the duties of employers since 2005. There can be no excuse for the company’s reckless disregard for their employees’ health HAVS is a serious, permanent condition which frequently has lifelong consequences.” 

Staffordshire company fined over £800,000 after second death in a confined space.

John Pointon & Sons Ltd., was fined £847,632 (inc. costs) after a worker died during confined space work in an industrial cooker.
The circumstances were:
  • John Pointon & Sons Ltd., had failed to put in place a safe system of work in confined spaces.
  • This was despite another employee being killed in a confined space at the same site in 2004.
  • The company had not properly considered the risks of entering the cooker.
  • The company did not competently manage the work as it was taking place.
  • On 5 November 2011, self-employed contractor Mark Bullock was carrying out repairs inside the cooker.
  • While he was inside, steam from elsewhere in the system fed into the area where he was working. 
  • He was badly scalded and died in hospital the following day from his injuries.

The HSE inspector said:
“The cookers in operation at the company form the core part of the business. Steam and hot vapours getting into the cookers from other connected pieces of equipment is foreseeable, and precautions should have been taken to ensure all avenues which had the potential to allow steam to be fed back into the cooker had been suitably isolated. 
John Pointon and Sons Ltd failed to do this and it cost Mark Bullock his life. Work in confined spaces can be extremely dangerous, which John Pointon & Sons Ltd were fully aware of having already had a fatality at the site. Companies must identify what measures should be taken to ensure the safety of their workforce. I would urge any company that carries out work in confined spaces to double check their procedures.”

Friday, 26 June 2015

Apprentice suffers broken leg as large steel fabrication falls on him.

Site Hire Services Ltd., was fined £8,232 (inc.costs) after an apprentice broke his leg. 
The circumstances were:
  • On 28 March 2014, an employee was working on the fabrication of a large steel structure called an ‘angle plate’. 
  • The fabrication task was poorly planned and there were poor controls.
  • There could have been better training and supervision.
  • In order to hold a 800kg steel sheet in place, the fabricator attempted to attach a temporary lifting channel to hold the steel sheet in an upright position. 
  • He sought the assistance of a 16-year-old apprentice to do this. 
  • While the apprentice was standing next to the steel sheet it became unstable and fell on to his leg, breaking it. 

The HSE Inspector said:
“The manipulation of heavy loads using lifting equipment is a regular occurrence within the fabrication industry and needs to be properly managed. 
It is not acceptable to expect people to work near unstable or poorly supported materials, even for short periods of time. Safe systems of work should be in place to prevent this and to avoid serious injuries or loss of life.”

Glass company and contractor fined after person falls from top of oven

Peterlee Glass Company Limited was fined £2,631 (inc. costs) and Neil Shield, a ventilation system engineer, was fined £4,580 (inc.costs) after a contractor sustained life threatening injuries.
The circumstances were:
  • Neil Shield (trading as Shield Ventilation Services) was a contractor engaged by Peterlee Glass to dismantle an industrial box oven.
  • The dismantling work had not been properly planned by the contractor.
  • The control of contractors by the glass company was inadequate.
  • The contractors started to dismantle the oven.
  • The injured person was standing on the roof of the oven when he stumbled and fell from the top of the oven, landing on the ground. 
  • His injuries were so severe he was put in an induced coma by paramedics at the scene. He sustained a number of injuries, namely a fractured neck, sternum, skull, and collarbone and has permanently lost the sight in his right eye. He has not returned to work since the accident.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Lincolnshire transport and storage firm fined £186,935 after death caused by load falling from forklift truck

George H Kime and Co Ltd., a Lincolnshire transport and storage firm was fined £186,935 (inc. costs) after an employee died when a metal frame being loaded onto a lorry trailer fell on top of him.
The circumstances were:
  • George H Kime and Co Ltd had transported a consignment of goods from Wiltshire to Wrangle.
  • Whilst the company had some procedures in place, the absence of strong management systems meant that the Company was complacent about the risks and failed to ensure that the procedures were followed.
  • The company had failed to ensure the safety of their employees during the the unloading operation. 
  • They had failed to plan and supervise the lift and there was no safe system of work in place for the movement of loads not placed on pallets.
  • On 10 July 2012 Jonathan Newham and a colleague were using forklift trucks to move the goods, which were not on pallets, from the trailer to a second vehicle, as the trailer was needed elsewhere.
  • Mr Newham had moved a large metal-wheeled chassis, also known as a ‘dolly’, from the first trailer. 
  • His colleague then attempted to load the dolly onto the second trailer.
  • For unknown reasons, Mr Newham climbed onto the second trailer. 
  • As his colleague loaded the dolly onto the trailer with the forklift, it fell off the tines of the forklift truck, trapping and fatally injuring Mr Newham underneath
  • Mr Newham died in hospital from head and chest crush injuries. .

The HSE Inspector said:
“Mr Newham’s death was entirely avoidable and his life was needlessly lost. Lifting large, heavy and awkward items requires planning by a competent person and safe systems of work. Lifting operations, which often present severe risks to workers, must be properly planned, controlled and adequately supervised. By taking these steps, businesses can prevent tragic incidents such as this from happening.”

Recycling firm fined £71,000 after worker loses his arm.

Recresco Ltd., a recycling firm, was fined £71,625 (inc.costs) after an agency worker lost his arm.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred at the Ellesmere Port site on 26 January 2014.
  • The company had failed to assess the risks associated with working on moving conveyor belts 
  • They had failed to ensure that the machinery across their site was properly guarded.
  • The company did not have a safe system of work in place. 
  • There was insufficient information, instruction or training relating to the conveyors, which routinely exposed their workers to dangerous situations.
  • Philip Grace was carrying out maintenance work on a glass sorting machine.
  • His safety glove got caught on a moving conveyor which was part of the machine.
  • His arm was pulled into the machine and severed from above the wrist.
  • Attempts to reattach his hand were unsuccessful.

The HSE Inspector said:
“Philip Grace’s life has been deeply affected by this entirely preventable incident. The need for safe systems of work, correct guarding, staff being trained and risk assessments being carried out are the basics of health and safety for a company like Recresco Ltd. 
Companies must recognise the need for proper safe systems of work, guarding and training to protect workers who are operating or maintaining heavy machinery like the conveyor belts used in the recycling industry.”