Friday, 30 August 2019

Volvo Group fined after truck crushed employee during brake test

Volvo Group UK Limited was fined £13,333 after an employee at the Cardonald Depot was crushed by a truck, leading to serious injury.
The circumstances were:
  • On 7 June 2016 an employee of Volvo Group UK Limited was testing the brakes of a low-loader truck unit and trailer at the Cardonald depot.
  • Volvo Group UK Limited failed to provide a sufficient number of wheel chocks for use by its employees. 
  • They also failed to provide information, instruction, supervision and training of its employees in their use. 
  • They also failed to provide a suitable induction of the employee in safe working practices.
  • The employee raised the trailer off the ground using a pit jack. 
  • He did not apply the truck handbrake or use any wheel chocks to prevent the vehicle rolling. 
  • Whilst adjusting the brakes at the first axle, the truck unit rolled forward causing the jack to slip off the axle of the trailer, roll towards him and strike him on the body, crushing him against a set of steps in the pit and fracturing his spine.

The HSE Inspector said:
“Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers in the safe system of working. If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the life changing injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented.”

Ensure that you carry out air conditioning leak test

Alarmingly, I see many instances where companies fail to carry out a periodic leak test on air conditioning equipment. 
The leak test may be quite simple and even using a spray of soapy water and looking for the bubbles can be acceptable.

Under the Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulations, you must carry out a leak test at intervals dependant upon:

  • The global warming potential (GWP) of the gas, and
  • The amount stored in your system.

Go to the Tools section of and you'll find a handy little spreadsheet you're free to download to determine if a check is necessary and, if so, how often. 

It is obvious that this interval is based on the risk. For most companies reading this, the interval is every year.

These two articles give you guidance on leak testing. Although the second one is from the USA, it is still relevant.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Employee fined after apprentice fell from makeshift cage on forklift truck.

An employee has been fined £2,560 (inc.costs) after an apprentice sustained serious injuries when he fell from a potato box lifted by a forklift truck.

The circumstances were:
  • The employer had carried out a risk assessment and purchased suitable equipment for work at height.
  • On 30 July 2018, Mr Francis Yardy  chose not to use this.
  • Instead, he attached a potato box to a forklift truck to lift an apprentice electrician to a height of four metres in order to carry out electrical repairs.
  • The box was inherently unstable and the apprentice fell to the floor. 
  • He was admitted to hospital and sustained a punctured lung and broken ribs.

The HSE inspector said:
“Unfortunately, forklift trucks are frequently used with potato boxes or pallets attached to lift people to work at height. This incident serves as a reminder of the potentially disastrous consequences.”

Monday, 19 August 2019

HSE publishes occupational fatal injury rates for 2018-19

The HSE have just published the occupational fatal injury statistics.
 The good news is that there has been a general downwards trend over the years and at 0.53/100,000, the UK is the safest country in Europe. The EU average is 1.23. (Data from Asia or the USA is not available.) The bad new is that the reduction trend has flattened out.

The predominant causes are falls from height and vehicles. Possibly because of the focus over the years on improving practices in Construction, this is no longer a high-scorer.  However, Agriculture remains high and Waste & Recycling is a major area of concern.
Whilst inexperience has always been something that required attention, the fatality rate in those over 65 is a major concern. As these are just for injuries, old age is not a cause.
The full report is available at

Monday, 12 August 2019

CE Marking applies even if it is for your own use

Whilst CE marking was introduced primarily for trading within the EU, it applies even if you are making machinery for your own use.

The Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 1992 had clause 11 which stated that,

"Where a person being the manufacturer of relevant machinery, himself puts that relevant machinery into service in the course of a business, for the purposes of these Regulations that person shall be deemed to have supplied that relevant machinery to himself."

This was removed from the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008, but it's still a requirement because they define a manufacturer as including,
"A person who designs or manufactures machinery or partly completed machinery for that person’s own use in an EEA state."

So, you still have to go through the CE assessment process even if you are not intending to sell the machine.

You can see how to do this at

Friday, 9 August 2019

Wrapp Recycling Ltd fined £18,952 after an employee lost two fingers in an unguarded baler.

Wrapp Recycling Ltd of Bolton were fined £18,952 (inc. costs) after an employee lost two fingers in unguarded recycling equipment.

The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on a baler.
  • Because blockages occurred frequently, the company had modified the machine so that what was originally a fixed guard was now removable.
  • Wrapp Recycling had failed to fit an interlock to this so that the machine would stop when the guard was open.
  • There was no suitable risk assessment in place that would have identified the need for this.
  • Wrapp Recycling failed to inform employees of the dangers when accessing the machine with power on.
  • It was common practice to clear the machine by hand with the machine still running.
  • On 2 October 2018, a worker who had been employed at Wrapp Recycling Ltd for just eight weeks, attempted to clear a blocked hopper of a baler machine.
  • After removing the guard, he leaned into the machine and moved the blocked plastic.
  • The ram then activated and crushed his hand.
  • The accident caused extensive damage to his hand, including the amputation of two fingers for which he is still undergoing treatment.
  • He has since been unable to return to work.

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

Two companies fined a total of £147,000 for unsafe work at height

James Durrans and Sons were fined £120,000 (inc.costs) and Kingswinford Engineering fined £27,000 (inc. costs) for failings related to work at height.
The circumstances were:
  • In April 2016 James Durrans and Sons enlisted the services of Kingswinford Engineering Co to carry out repair work on the roof of its premises.
  • Neither James Durrans and Sons nor Kingswinford Engineering risk-assessed the task and implement a safe system of work for the roof access. 
  • Instead, each company had assumed that the other had systems in place to protect workers from the risks of working at height. 
  • As a result, there were failings relating to how the work – specifically access to the roof – was planned, managed and monitored.
  • “man cage” was lifted into position by a forklift truck.
  • The cage fell short of the roof level by about 0.9 m.
  • There was also a gap between the cage and the roof, which workers needed to climb across.
  • The roof itself was wet and slippery.
  • There were no barriers in place to prevent workers falling.

The HSE inspector said:
“This incident highlights the need for contractors to be managed properly. Both the contractors and those engaging them must assess the risks of the site and the specific work to ensure it can be done safely. In this case, no risk assessment was carried out and arrangements made to access the roof put workers at significant risk of falling from height.

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Celtic Rock Services Limited fined £40,227 and director given suspended sentence for HAVS

Celtic Rock Services Limited, a company providing specialised services in rock drilling, cliff stabilisation and rock anchors have been fined £40,227 (inc. costs) and a director given a suspended sentence because of failures to manage hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).
The circumstances were:
  • The employees use tools such as rock drills and jack hammers for cliff stabilisation work which is often carried out by abseiling down a cliff and using the tools horizontally while working from ropes.
  • Celtic Rock Services’ risk assessments did not identify the actual exposure to vibration.
  • Out of date vibration data was used.
  • Employees were not made aware of HAVS and its symptoms
  • Three employees had developed and reported symptoms of HAVS, such as pins and needles and aching hands. 
  • One person had had these symptoms since 2000.
  • No action was taken.
  • There was no health surveillance in place until an occupational nurse was employed in 2016
  • The occupational nurse identified the HAVS problems.
In addition to the company fines, Alwyn Griffith Hughes Thomas, director of the company, was given a 12 week custodial sentence, suspended for one year, a 12 week curfew and ordered to pay costs of £3,560.

The HSE inspector said:
“This was a case of the company and its director completely failing to grasp the importance of HAVS risk assessment and health surveillance.  If they had understood why health surveillance was necessary, it would have ensured that it had the right systems in place to monitor workers health and the employees’ conditions would not have been allowed to develop, one of which was to a severe, life altering stage.”

NPS Worldwide fined £35,770 after an agency worker’s hand was caught in a rotating fan blade

Oldham-based NPS Worldwide UK Limited that manufactures absorbent products was fined £35,771 (inc.costs) after an agency worker’s hand was caught in a rotating fan blade.

The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on a filling machine.
  • NPS Worldwide failed to carry out a suitable risk assessment
  • They failed to adequately guard dangerous parts.
  • They failed to provide adequate information, instruction and training to workers.
  • On 18 October 2017, the agency worker was removing a blockage in the machine she had been operating.
  • Her fingers became caught in an unguarded rotating fan.
  • She lost parts of all of her fingers on her right hand.
  • No first aid provision was available on the night shift when the incident occurred
  • This contributed to her suffering further as incorrect first aid was administered.
  • She subsequently sustained extensive scarring to her stomach following an unsuccessful attempt to generate new skin growth to save her fingers.
  • She continues to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the incident and the injuries sustained

The HSE inspector said:
“This injury could have easily been prevented and the risk should have been identified. Employers must make sure they properly assess and apply effective control measures to minimise the risk from dangerous parts of machinery.”

Updates in SSS Compliance Register on hold

The following changes in the Strategic Safety Systems Compliance Register are on hold until a decision is actually made on Brexit:
  • Ozone-Depleting Substances and Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019
  • The Conservation of Habitats and Species (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019
  • The Environmental Noise (Wales) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019
  • The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019
  • The Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) (Wales) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019
  • The CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018