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.”