Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Warburtons fined over £1.9 after worker was caught in exposed conveyors

Warburtons Ltd was fined £1,921,459 (inc.costs) after a worker was injured when his arm got trapped against a running conveyor belt.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on two conveyors on a bread line on 4 August 2015.
  • These conveyors had exposed moving parts which could have been guarded.
  • An agency worker was cleaning parts of the line.
  • As he reached into the line he became trapped between the two conveyors.
  • Part of the machine had to be dismantled to release him.
  • This left him with friction burns which required skin grafts.

The HSE inspector said:
“Warburtons failed to guard the machine sufficiently to prevent access to the running conveyors, which in this case could have prevented the injuries. Employers should ensure that all equipment used by agency and their own workers alike are sufficiently guarded and take appropriate measures if any deficiencies are found.”

HMG Paints fined £119,669 after electric floor scrubber ignited solvent fumes

Paint manufacturing company HMG Paints Ltd was fined £119,669.40 (inc.costs) after a worker suffered burns while cleaning the floor of a spray booth.
The circumstances were:
  • The employee was using a highly flammable solvent to clean the floor of a spray booth.
  • He had done several times since the spray booth was installed.
  • After complaints about how difficult it was to remove the dried paint he was allowed to purchase an industrial floor scrubber to carry out the task.
  • The planning for cleaning floors using solvent failed to recognise the hazards and level of risk associated with the use of highly flammable solvents to clean floors. 
  • No DSEAR assessment was carried out with respect to the use of this scrubber with these solvents.
  • The employee who was injured had not been trained to clean floors 
  • He was not adequately supervised when carrying out the cleaning activity.
  • On 18 November 2014 electric motor on the floor scrubber ignited the cloud of flammable vapour that had built up in the spray booth.
  • The employee was seriously injured, receiving 26% burns, and was treated at the specialist burns unit at Wythenshawe Hospital.

The HSE inspector said:
“This is a company that handles large quantities of flammable solvent, the hazards are well known and the company has a duty to control the risks arising from the hazards. It was custom and practice to clean floors using highly flammable solvents applied using a mop and bucket. In this instance the company failed to adequately control the risks and an employee was seriously injured.”

Spectral colours fined after unstable machine toppled

Spectral Colours Limited was fined £25,444 (inc.costs) after a worker was crushed under machinery.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on a dispersion mixing machine  on 30 April 2014.
  • This machine was not properly fixed to the ground.
  • A worker was cleaning this machine.
  • He sat on one of the clamping arms when it suddenly toppled over and pinned his leg underneath the machine.
  • He suffered a fractured ankle and serious crush injuries to his foot.

The HSE inspector said:
“This case highlights the need for all duty holders to ensure all machinery in their workplaces are properly fixed and maintained to the required safety standard. If Spectral Colours had been more thorough in ensuring that the installation of the machinery was completed properly then this accident wouldn’t have happened.”

SSS comment: The fine was only £3000, with the remaining £22,444 being costs.  Bearing in mind that the Sentencing Guidelines are now in place, this is incredibly low.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

What will happen as a result of Grenfell Tower?

There are various calls for a cessation of deregulation following the Grenfell Tower fire but I can't really see that any removal of regulations caused this.

Anybody who remember foam polystyrene ceiling tiles and fires that occurred when they were used in kitchens would realise that it is not a good idea to place a similar material on the outside of high rise buildings where there is a chimney effect.  It is inexplicable to continue to do so when there is evidence from fires at the Lacrosse building in Melbourne in 2014 and the Lakanal fire in Lambeth in 2009, both of which had the same type of cladding and caused multiple deaths.

There seems to be some confusion about what the standards and regulations are, and that may be the root cause of the problem. If people slavishly follow the regulations without assessing the possible outcome and making appropriate choices, then such tragedies occur.

The Ronan Point building collapse changed the way tower blocks were built. The cause of that was the method of building similar to a house of cards.  Hopefully, Grenfell Tower will change the fire standards with tower blocks as well.

Monday, 26 June 2017

ATE fined £495,000 after worker was killed by the roof of a trailer he was dismantling

ATE Truck and Trailer Sales Ltd, a company that buys, refurbishes and sells Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) and trailers was fined £495,000 (inc.costs) after the death of a worker.

  • 63-year-old worker William Price was dismantling a trailer on 21 February 2013.
  • ATE had assessed the risks and had a established method of work.
  • However, the risk assessment was inadequate as it failed to properly consider the risks involved in this work.
  • ATE did not provide Mr Price with any information in relation to his safety when ‘stripping down’ the trailers.
  • Mr Price was struck by the roof of a trailer he was dismantling.
The HSE inspector said:
“This tragic accident was preventable had all parties considered the risks involved and taken appropriate measures to reduce that risk.”

Holt JCB fined £69,929 after 400kg wheel falls on worker's feet

Holt JCB Limited was fined £69,929 (inc.costs) after the wheel of a JCB digger fell onto one of its workers.
The circumstances were:
  • The worker was tasked with changing air filled wheel with foam filled wheels on
    8 April 2016.
  • Each wheel weighs more than 400kg.
  • There was no handling equipment for the wheels.
  • Holt JCB has not assessed the risks of this operation.
  • They had not trained workers on how to handle wheels.
  • A wheel fell, leaving the man with broken bones in both feet.
  • The company were prosecuted under Regulation 4(1) of the Manual Handling Regulations 1992.

The HSE inspector said: 
“This incident could have been prevented if the company had used a mechanical wheel handler costing less than £700. Measures such as this would have been apparent had the task been properly assessed.”

Thermal Engineering Ltd fined £40,834 after worker loses part of finger in manually-operated lathe.

Thermal Engineering Ltd was fined £40,834 (inc.costs) after a worker suffered a serious hand injury after a machinery incident.
The circumstances were:
  • On 15 December 2015 Chris Davis was using a manually operated  metalworking lathe.
  • The lathe had a faulty emergency footbrake, which had been reported to the company at an early date, but had not been taken out of service.
  • Mr Davis was using hand-held emery cloth when when his hand became entangled  with the rotating workpiece.
  • He required surgical amputation to part of his left index finger.

The HSE inspector said:
“Thermal Engineering Ltd failed to identify that employees were routinely carrying out an unsafe work practice when hand applying emery cloth to a workpiece rotating at speed. The company also failed to take the faulty lathe out of service, resulting in Mr Davis not being able to stop the lathe immediately. “All companies have a duty to ensure employees carry out work in a safe way and the machinery they are using is in good working order.”