Sunday, 22 May 2016

£227,000 fine for hand arm vibration cases.

Asset International Limited, a pipe manufacturing company based in Newport, was fined £227,724 (inc.costs) for seven instances of safety failings caused by the use of vibrating tools.
The circumstances were:
  • Employees of Asset International Limited used vibrating tools.
  • Neither a sufficient risk assessment nor health surveillance had been carried out.
  • Proper training had not been carried out and there were no practical controls to reduce vibration risk.
  • There were seven reported cases of Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) between April 2014 and July 2015.

The HSE inspector said: “The serious and irreversible risks from Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome caused by work with vibrating tools are well known and guidance has been in place since the early 1990s. This case shows there is no excuse for not putting in place a management system which includes risk assessment, control measures, health surveillance and information and training to reduce these risks to as low a level as is reasonably practicable.”

Balfour Beatty fined £2.6M following death when trench collapsed.

Balfour Beatty was fined £2.6 million plus £54,000 costs after an employee was killed when the trench he was working in collapsed on him in Lancashire.
The circumstances were:

  • The accident occurred on an onshore site connected to an offshore windfarm that was being built off the coast by Heysham, Lancashire.  
  • There was a trench dug to a depth of 2.4 metres, without any shoring.
  • Balfour Beatty failed to adequately risk assess the works or control the way in which the excavation took place.
  • James Sim was a 32-year-old sub-contractor working on behalf of Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions Limited.
  • Mr Sim was killed when he became trapped in the trench after it collapsed on him.
The HSE inspector said : 
“The level of this fine should serve as a warning to industry not to ignore health and safety matters. Balfour Beatty failed to adequately assess, plan and supervise the work being undertaken. Trench collapses are easy to prevent, and it is disappointing that James’ life was lost in such a tragic way. The family has shown great patience and support throughout this investigation which is a credit to both them and James’ memory.”
SSS note:  This is very similar to the first case brought under the Corporate Manslaughter Act against Cotswold Geotech where a trench collapsed.

McCains fined £800,000 and employee nearly lost arm

Major frozen food manufacturer McCains was fined £812,831 (inc.costs) for safety failings after an employee nearly lost his arm.

The circumstances were:
  • A risk assessment of the machine by the company failed to recognise the danger of unguarded areas on a bypass conveyor.
  • The conveyor did not have the correct guards fitted.
  • A 34-year-old employee was attempting to check the condition of the head roller on the conveyor. 
  • While doing this his arm became entangled in the machinery and his arm was almost severed. 
  • Although his arm was saved, he now has limited movement in his hand.

Cumbria Crystal fined £15,000 for loss of finger

Lead crystal manufacturer Cumbria Crystal was fined £15,000 after an employee suffered a serious hand injury while using machinery.
The circumstances were:

  • Cumbria Crystal have a pillar drill which can be used for reaming the neck of a glass bottle.
  • No risk assessment had been carried out.
  • As a consequence, no reasonably practical control measures were in place.
  • There were no control measures to prevent accessing dangerous parts of the machine.
  • On 20 February 2015, Laura Ponsford was using the drill to widen (or ream) the neck of a glass bottle. 
  • The chuck and reamer were unguarded.  
  • Mrs Ponsford was wearing latex gloves while performing this task.
  • The glove on her right hand became entangled within the rotating parts of the reamer resulting in the middle finger of her hand being severed.
  • She underwent 10 hours of surgery to reattach the finger but unfortunately she was later told the operation had not been successful and had to undergo a further operation in March 2015 to have the finger surgically amputated to below the second knuckle.
The HSE inspector said:
“This incident could have been prevented simply by providing guarding to prevent access to dangerous parts of the machine. 
The need to guard dangerous parts of machinery is well known with established industry guidance available, and in this case, the result of that guidance being ignored is a serious injury to a young woman.”

Monday, 9 May 2016

Severfield fined £191,000 after death of forklift truck driver

Severfield (UK) Limited, a large steel fabrication company, was fined £191,000 (inc.costs) after a forklift truck operator was killed when the truck he was operating overturned. 
The offence was not a significant cause of the fatal accident.

The circumstances were:

  • Severfield failed to manage forklift truck driving operations. 
  • They did not enforce the wearing of seat-belts or control the speed at which some FLT operators drove their trucks.
  • Kelvin McGibbon was reversing the forklift truck on 13 March 2013.
  • He was not wearing a seatbelt.
  • The forklift truck struck some steps causing it to overturn.
  • Mr McGibbon suffered crush injuries which proved fatal. 
The HSE inspector said:
“A company has a legal duty for the health and safety of people working on its site, whether they are employees or not. They are required to assess risks, eliminate them where possible and enforce proper control measures, such as seat belt wear, by checking that safe driving practices are being followed to deal with the risks that remain. 
Sadly, in this case, the prosecution shows that the company’s management of FLT driving operations and risk control measures failed which exposed employees to danger.”

Ebbw Vale vehicle seat manufacturing company fined £52,010 after ignition of release agent

Sears Manufacturing Company (Europe) Limited, an  Ebbw Vale vehicle seat manufacturing company, was fined £52,010 (inc. costs) after a worker was injured from an explosion.
The circumstances were:
  • Highly flammable release agent is used to prevent dispensed foam sticking to the seat mould.
  • The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) require an assessment to have been carried out and suitable control measures put in place to prevent an explosion.
  • A failure to have suitable control measures in place caused the release agent to ignite on 26 January 2015.
  • An operator suffered burns to his head and hands.