A herdsman died after carrying out unplanned and unsupervised repair work on a dairy roof and falling through a plastic skylight, a court heard today (18 December).
William Luscombe (65) of Whitstone, near Holsworthy was carrying out the work for his employer, TRD Griffin and Son Partnership at Willsworthy Farm, North Tamerton on 14 October, 2010 when the incident happened.
Exeter Crown Court fined Roy Griffin, a partner in TRD Griffin and Son Partnership, a total of £5,000 and ordered him to pay £8,800 in costs, in the case brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The court was told Mr Luscombe had been lifted onto the roof in the bucket of a telehandler to carry out repairs. Plastic skylights are widely known to be fragile and liable to fail if someone stands on them.
As he was working, Mr Luscombe fell three metres onto the concrete floor below, sustaining serious head injuries. He was airlifted to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth but later died of his injuries.
The HSE investigation found that no plans had been made for the work, as required under law, despite a sign at the site which warned of a fragile roof on the dairy.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector, Georgina Speake, said:
“Mr Luscombe, although an experienced herdsman, did not have any training for working on roofs and was working without supervision. No equipment was provided which could have prevented or mitigated the effects of a fall, such as safety nets or suitable boarding.
“Although crawling boards were present on the farm, they had not been used and were too narrow to provide effective safe access on the roof. The use of a telehandler bucket was also an inappropriate way to gain access to the roof itself.
“Falls through roofs are all too common and can result in serious or even fatal injuries. Work must be properly planned and appropriate safety equipment provided to minimise the risks involved.”
Further information on how to reduce the risk of falls from height can be found on the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk/falls
Roy Griffin, of Willsworthy Farm, North Tamerton, Holsworthy pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
A West Midlands steel company has been ordered to pay more than £146,000 in fines and costs after one of its employees was crushed to death by a 15-tonne crane.
Wilfred Williams, 57, of Tividale, Warley, was carrying out maintenance on an overhead travelling crane at C Brown & Sons (Steel) Ltd in Dudley when the incident occurred on 27 May 2011.
He was working six-and-a-half metres from the ground and stepped from the gantry he was working on to the rail of an adjacent crane and sat down. At this point the neighbouring crane was moved by an operator who had not seen Mr Williams and he was crushed against an upright stanchion.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Mr Williams and a fellow maintenance worker had accessed the cranes via a cherry picker. The second worker remained in the basket while Mr Williams stepped onto the rail of the crane he was fixing.
He wasn’t wearing a harness, there was no other fall protection, and there was no safe system of work at height to prevent crush injuries or falls
Wolverhampton Crown Court was told today (19 Dec) that an approved code of practice on working with lifting equipment makes specific reference to proximity hazards and states: “Where anyone is working near the wheel tracks of an overhead crane, the crane should not be allowed to approach within six metres of them if they would be liable to be struck by it”.
The court heard no measures had been taken by the company to isolate the other cranes in the bay where work was taking place, or in the adjacent bay. There was also nothing to prevent their approach to those working on the rails.
C Brown & Sons (Steel) Ltd, of Pedmore Road, Dudley, was fined £120,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. No penalty was imposed for a separate breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company was also ordered to pay £26,552 in costs.
Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Angela Gallagher said:
“This tragic incident, which has had a devastating effect on Mr Williams’s family, was entirely preventable.
“The requirement to prohibit cranes from approaching within six metres of any person working on or near the wheel tracks of the crane stretches back to the Factories Act 1961, yet the company failed to put in place sufficient measures to address this risk.
“Documents show the company had been aware of the risks for some time. A system to prevent falls from height – a line system whereby workers wearing a harness could clip onto the line – was being considered and an order was about to be placed at the time of the incident. However, the company had not put interim measures in place to prevent falls nor adequately assessed the risk of maintenance staff being crushed by moving cranes.
“The risks of working at height, especially around cranes, are very real and companies must have safe work procedures in place and train employees to use them. They myst also have appropriate management systems in place to ensure they are followed.”
A Berkshire labels company has been fined for a safety breach after a worker sustained a serious hand injury when it was caught between two contra rotating rollers on a working machine.
The employee, who does not want to be named, severed the first finger of his right hand to the second knuckle and broke his middle finger in the incident at Berkshire Labels Limited in Charnham Park, Hungerford, on 5 September 2011.
Reading Magistrates’ Court heard today (8 January) that he was attempting to clean a coating roller on a finishing machine, and had removed the roller several times to make adjustments and clean away dried on primer.
He then tried to brush off the dried primer from the roller while it was in situ on the working machine, but his right hand was caught and pulled between two rollers, including the one he had just fitted.
He was unable to work for six weeks as a result of his injury and required physiotherapy.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) established that the machine was missing suitable guarding, and had been for some time. Had a guard been fitted the incident would have been avoided.
Berkshire Labels Limited, of Swanford, Charnham Park, Hungerford, was fined £7,000 and ordered to pay £5,637 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations.
After the hearing HSE Inspector Sharron Cripps said:
“The employee’s painful injury should not and need not have happened, and was easily preventable had Berkshire Labels fitted guarding to prevent access to the rollers.
“Being drawn into machines because of inadequate guarding – and even a total absence of guarding – happens far too regularly. The importance of robust safeguards to protect workers gaining access to dangerous moving machinery cannot be overstated.”
One of the UK’s largest property service organisations has been ordered to pay more than £300,000 in fines, costs and compensation after seven people were hospitalised when carbon monoxide (CO) fumes escaped into their homes.
Apollo Property Services Group Limited, now part of Keepmoat Group, was yesterday (17 December) sentenced in relation to the incident at the Abbey Road Estate, on Adelaide Road, Camden, between 18 February and 18 March 2008.
The Old Bailey (Central Criminal Court) heard during a two-week trial that seven residents, none of whom want to be named, were exposed to CO because boiler flues servicing the flats were obstructed during roof refurbishment work.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Apollo knew that some flues may still be serving boilers in the properties, but did not have an adequate system for inspecting them. So work continued without checks being carried out.
The company also failed to ensure that the work was adequately supervised, and did not ensure that workers were familiar with safe working practices in relation to gas flues or were aware of the risks.
Apollo Property Services Group Ltd, of Church Street, Waltham Abbey, was fined £165,000, ordered to pay £117,582 in costs and a total of £19,000 in compensation after being found guilty of breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety etc. at Work Act 1974.
After sentencing, HSE’s Inspector Helen Donnelly said:
“Despite the client’s adviser warning the company to consider the risk of blocking or covering flues at the start of the refurbishment project, the company did not assess the risks to residents or have a safe system to ensure flues serving live boilers were not obstructed.
“Moreover, as part of one of the UK’s largest property service organisations, Apollo Property Services Group Limited is very experienced in refurbishing housing estates so there is no reason for this incident to have happened.”
A fire at a vegetable packing plant in Warwickshire, which led to the deaths of four firemen, was described as a “dreadful accident” in Court.
John Averis, 27, Ashley Stephens, 20 and Darren Yates-Badley, 24, were all killed in the blaze in November 2007. A fourth firefighter, Ian Reid, 44, died later in hospital.
Warwickshire County Council pleaded guilty to a health and safety charge in January.
At the hearing Mr. Justice Macduff said the fine given “in no way” summed up the cost of the four men’s lives but reflected deficiencies in record-keeping and information given to fire crews at the time.
Adding that the investigation had cost £5m in total and he had issued a £30,000 fine because he “didn’t want the public purse to suffer any more than it needed to.”
Mr. Macduff also said he was satisfied the authority was now in “full and proper health.”
Unlike most other fire services, Warwickshire is overseen by Warwickshire County Council.
Following the sentencing, Warwickshire’s community safety spokesman, councillor Richard Hobbs, apologised for the fire authority’s failings, stating: “We pleaded guilty to the charge because we recognised and accepted that there were failings on our part back in 2007.
“No fire service can guarantee that nothing will ever go wrong again but we are confident that our service is as safe as it can be.”
He also paid tribute to the four men who lost their lives and said the council offered its “deepest condolences to their families and friends.”
The Crown said Warwickshire County Council had failed in three main areas including the water supply, ineffective training for the firefighters and fire engines that had not been carrying adequate information about high-risk buildings like the Atherstone warehouse.
The judge said only the last point was a failing that needed to be taken into account.
He said over the past five years he was satisfied that Warwickshire Fire Service – one of the smallest in the country – had remedied all these issues and was now an example to many others.
Chesterfield Borough Council has been fined after carbon monoxide fed back into one of its properties, putting the tenant at risk of poisoning.
A contractor carrying out roof work on the house in Stand Road, Newbold, on behalf of the council advised them the chimney stack was leaning and in danger of collapsing so the council arranged for it to be removed and capped.
However, the stack contained the flue for a gas fire and gas-fired back boiler and the removal and capping of the chimney stack meant there was no direct route for carbon monoxide and combustion products from the fire and boiler to be safely vented to open air. Instead the dangerous gas fed back into the house via the fire into the lounge and attic and outside through the eaves.
This was only discovered around six weeks later, on 8 October 2011, when the council was carrying out the annual gas safety check on the property.
An investigation into the incident by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the council was aware the property contained working gas appliances as they were listed on two separate databases, but the council failed to check them.
At no point was the presence of the live gas appliances mentioned to the roofing contractor. The chimney stack was removed and the subsequent invoice detailing the work was paid by the council without question.
Chesterfield Borough Council, of Rose Hill, Chesterfield, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for failing to maintain its property in such a way that the tenant was not exposed to the risks associated with carbon monoxide. Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court today (13 December) fined the council £18,000 and ordered it to pay costs of £7,534.
After the hearing HSE inspector Scott Wynne said:
“It was pure luck that the tenant did not suffer any serious effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. This was probably due in part to the particularly warm weather at that time of year which meant the tenant often had the windows open and only used the gas boiler for hot water.
“Chesterfield Borough Council was in a position of trust. It had a duty of care to its tenant but because it did not properly consult its own records or do any kind of follow-up checks once the stack had been removed, it failed in that duty.
“It was also extremely fortunate that the annual safety inspection was due at that time. If it had been due later in the year the tenant may not have survived to tell the tale.”
A Cardiff building company has been fined for ignoring a safety notice and exposing workers and members of the public to serious risk of injury.
Cardiff Magistrates’ Court heard (18 December) that Rimo Construction Ltd, of St Mellons, allowed unsafe work at height at a house in Rumney in June 2012.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that employees were working from scaffolding around the property, and on the roof, without adequate protection to prevent them from falling.
Part of the scaffolding was removed on 28 June, but they continued working without guard rails until a HSE inspector visited the site the following day after a local resident raised concerns about safety.
Rimo Construction was immediately served with a Prohibition Notice preventing any further work on the scaffold or the roof of the property. However, on 30 June, the following day, neighbours on both sides of the property saw the men continuing to work in exactly the same way.
Adequate edge protection or other precautions should have been in place to prevent workers from falling and injuring themselves or others.
Rimo Construction Ltd, of Vaindre Road, St Mellons, Cardiff, was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Sections 2(1), 3(1) and 33(1)(g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
After the hearing HSE Inspector Simon Breen said:
“The dangers of working at height without adequate edge protection are very clear, yet companies and individuals continue to take risks and cut corners.
“Rimo Construction was well aware of the precautions it should have been taking, particularly after being served with a Prohibition Notice to stop work on the scaffolds and on the roof. Yet less than 24 hours later the company ignored the risks and the terms of the notice.
“Whilst there were no injuries, the workers could have fallen from the scaffolding or roof into the grounds of the neighbouring houses on either side.
“I hope today’s prosecution serves to remind all companies who expect employees to work at height of their legal duties to properly manage safety, and to provide the necessary protection required to safeguard them and others from falls.”
London fire brigade chiefs have raised concerns that the Houses of Parliament are not subject to safety inspections — despite 40 minor fires in four years. Commons officials admit the building is in such a dire state of repair that … Continue reading →
An Essex packaging company has been fined after one of its employees sustained a serious hand injury on an unguarded laminating machine.
Gary Dean, of Redstock Road, Southend-on-Sea, had the skin on the palm of his left hand torn away in the incident at Frith’s Flexible Packaging, in Southend, on 26 September 2011.
Sourthend Magistrates’ Court heard today (28 November) that he was using a glue laminating machine when he noticed an indent mark on a finished product. He put his left hand into the machine via an unguarded portal to scrape away dried glue residue from a roller that had caused the blemish, but his whole hand was drawn into the roller and the palm of his left hand was de-gloved.
Mr Dean was hospitalised for two days and required emergency surgery. This was followed by several months of physiotherapy to regain movement between his thumb and first finger, before he finally returned to work after two and a half months.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and found that Mr Dean had removed an interlocked guard on the laminating machine some six years earlier to allow him to set the machine up more easily. He and other employees, including his supervisor, had used the machine without the guard ever since.
Had the guard been in place they would have been unable to access dangerous moving parts, including the roller, while the machine was in operation.
HSE inspectors also found that although a risk assessment and a safe system of work were available for the laminator they were very basic, did not adequately set out the control measures or troubleshooting guidance; and staff were largely unaware they existed.
Frith’s Flexible Packaging was served an Improvement Notice by HSE to review their training plan, incorporating revised risk assessments and a safe system of work.
Follow-up enquiries revealed that a second laminating machine at the site had also had its guard removed, and that the company had failed to address this issue following Mr Dean’s incident. HSE therefore served another Improvement Notice for guarding requirements and a third requiring ‘competent person’ training to enable the company to properly manage its health and safety responsibilities.
Frith’s Flexible Packaging Ltd, of Coopers Way, Temple Farm Industrial Estate, Southend-on-Sea, was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £2,046 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Sam Thomson said:
“This incident was entirely preventable. Guards are placed on machines for a good reason and should not be removed for convenience. The fact the offending guard here had been missing for a number of years is particularly disturbing.
“Hand injuries from printing and laminating machines are a well known risk within this industry, and the company had been given previous advice on similar guarding matters. So measures should have been in place to protect Mr Dean and other workers.
“HSE will not hesitate to prosecute companies who put their employees at risk in this way.”