Thursday, 24 August 2017

Pyronix Limited fined £143,133 after worker sustained flash burns

Pyronix Limited was fined £143,133 (inc. costs) after a worker suffered flash burns to her face, neck, chest and both arms.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred with a process to apply Fluorocoat Thin Film Coating, which is a highly flammable substance.
  • This involved dipping baskets of printed circuit boards into a tank containing the coating.
  • The printed circuit boards already had a battery installed.
  • There was no local exhaust ventilation and no prevention of static discharges.
  • In April 2015 a worker was dipping baskets containing a variety of the PCBs into the tank. 
  • As she removed a basket out of the tank, she saw a “burning cloud” go through the tank and was unable to avoid being burnt after the Fluorocoat had been ignited.

The HSE inspector commented:
“This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices. Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

Implications of the GDPR for health surveillance

As most people know, the Data Protection Act (DPA) will be replaced by the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which come into force in May 2018.

The GDPR is quite complex but there are implications for records where an employer has carried out health surveillance as part of their health and safety programme.

The requirements for confidentiality presently under the DPA remain but the following apply:

  • Employers have access to the results from this health surveillance.( See 1.)
  • Employers can, and are strongly advised to, keep the records from such surveillance, even if the person to whom they apply wishes them to be destroyed. (See 2.)

We quite often find that health surveillance providers refuse to release results such as audiograms which are essential to understanding how well health protection measures are working.  They typically claim that release is prevented by the DPA, often in ignorance of the DPA.

GPDR Article 6 (1)(c) states that processing is "lawful if it is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation to which the controller is subject". In this context, the employer is the controller and the employer has a legal obligation under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work, etc., Act. Article 6 (4)(b) reinforces this. Therefore, employers have access to the results from health surveillance they have arranged to meet Section 2 obligations. It would be worth making this a stipulation in any contract with a health surveillance provider.

Article 9 (2)(h) allows processing where it "is necessary for the purposes of preventive or occupational medicine or for the assessment of the working capacity of the employee..."

Articles 15 to 22 state the rights of the data subject (ie the employee). This includes, in Article 17, the right of erasure.
However, Article 17 (3)(c) states that this "shall not apply to the extent that processing is necessary for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims."

So, if it is possible that data are necessary for the defence of, say, a civil claim for noise-induced hearing loss, then the wise employer will retain such data, citing Article 17 (3)(c). 

Monday, 21 August 2017

Olympic Varnish fined £20,505 for flash fire

Paper and board coating company Olympic Varnish Company was fined £20,505 (inc.costs) after a worker suffered burns following a fire on a coating machine.
The circumstances were:
  • On 10th July 2015 the machine was being cleaned using solvent.
  • The factory doors were closed, meaning that highly flammable solvent fumes could accumulate.
  • There were exposed electrical conductors.
  • When a water spray was used during the cleaning operation, contact of water with the conductors caused a spark.
  • This spark ignited the fumes, causing a short-lived fire which cause burn injuries to the employee carrying out the cleaning operation.

The HSE inspector said:
“Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to inform, instruct, and train their workers in that safe system of working. In this case, if a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the serious injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented.”

Thursday, 3 August 2017

West Coast Corrugated fined £84,000 after an employee was struck by a fork lift truck.

West Coast Corrugated Ltd., was fined £84,337 (inc. costs) after an employee was struck by a fork lift truck.
The circumstances were:
  • West Coast Corrugated failed to consider the risk created by vehicles and pedestrians operating in the same area.
  • They failed to implement a traffic management plan to ensure workers and vehicles were adequately segregated. 
  • They also failed to install physical barriers to clearly segregate pedestrians and vehicles.
  • On 13 April 2015 an employee was struck by a reversing clamp truck. 
  • This resulted in him fracturing his pelvis.

The HSE inspector said:
“This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices. Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

Murfitts Industries fined £28,000 after work got caught in unisolated baler

Suffolk based Murfitts Industries Limited was fined £28,462 (inc costs)after an employee suffered serious injuries when his hand was got caught in a machine.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on a baler.
  • The guards were not maintained in a good condition and were not securely fixed to the machine.
  • On 3 February 2016 an employee was trying to clear the blocked baler 
  • The machine was not isolated.
  • His hand and arm got trapped.
  • He suffered a broken arm, loss of skin and muscle damage. His injuries kept him off work for 17 months.

The HSE inspector said:
“Employees of Murfitts Industries Limited were not being adequately supervised to ensure that the safe system of work for clearing blockages was followed. This incident could have been prevented if the worker had received adequate information and instruction.”

Fishgate Limited fined £119,000 after worker falls 6m from forklift truck

Fishgate Limited, a food manufacturing company, was fined £119,032.63 (inc. costs) after a worker fell six metres from the forks of a fork lift truck.
The circumstances were:
  • An employee of Fishgate Limited was instructed on 16 July 2013 to paint guttering and drainpipes on the outside of their factory.
  • The work was not properly planned nor was it adequately supervised.
  • The worker had not received any training or advice on how to correctly carry out the task.
  • He was raised up by a forklift driver in an unsecured tote box to paint the guttering and drainpipes.
  • He fell to the ground from a height of around six metres.
  • This resulted in a dislocated arm, cracked pelvis, broken foot and shattered leg.

The HSE inspector said:
“This work activity should have been properly planned. The injured worker should have been given the correct equipment as well as instruction as to how to carry out the work. The company also failed to adequately supervise the activity which could have prevented the incident.”

Man looses hand in unguarded machine

The Stuffing Plant Ltd, a soft toy filling company was fined £37,486 (inc.costs) after a worker lost a hand in an unguarded machine.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on a carding machine which had attachments left the discharge chute off to allow it to supply loose fibre to other machines.
  • This meant that a spiked discharge roller was accessible.
  • On 8 March 2016 a worker was attempting to clear a blockage.
  • The machine was still operating which meant that the spike roller was rotating.
  • This grabbed his left hand, drawing him into the machine and severing most of his fingers. 
  • He was airlifted to hospital where surgeons amputated his hand from the wrist due to the seriousness of his injuries.

The HSE inspector said:
“This man’s life changing injuries could have been prevented if a suitable and sufficient planning had been completed and the correct control measures were identified and implemented. The consequences of leaving off the flange and discharge pipework were foreseeable and could have easily been prevented.”