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Recent Health and Safety Prosecutions July 2012

Fatal head injuries: £200,000 fine

Health and Safety Executive v SITA UK Ltd (2012) Wolverhampton Crown Court, June

SITA UK Ltd, a recycling company, has been fined following the death of an employee.

Significant points of the case

  • In June 2008 Mark Bate was driving a JCB skid steer loader at the company’s premises in Tipton. He had not been properly trained.
  • He was working on his own to load scrap paper onto a conveyor. He stopped the machine and raised the safety bat from his lap to isolate it. The machine failed to isolate. The arm of the loader dropped and crushed his head, killing him instantly.
  • Bate had not been formally trained, assessed or supervised in the use of the machine. A self-employed maintenance engineer has also used it for several months with no training.
  • The machine had not been maintained in the eight months preceding the incident. It should have been service at least twice during this time.

SITA UK Ltd was fined £200,000 plus £77,000 costs under sections 2 and 3, HSW Act, for failing to ensure the health and safety of employees and non-employees. It was also ordered to pay £4450 to the deceased’s mother for funeral expenses.

Lorry fall: serious injuries: £6000 fine

Health and Safety Executive v Mole Valley Feed Solutions (2012) Chippenham magistrates’ court, May 29

Mole Valley Feed Solutions has been fined after a driver suffered serious injuires when he fell from the top of a lorry.

Significant points of the case

Lee Waters was a lorry driver who delivered grain to customers. He was removing the cover from his vehicle’s load at the company’s feed mill in Calne, Wiltshire, when he fell from the steps of the vehicle onto a concrete floor. He suffered a fractured pelvis and wrist.

Simple measures could have been taken such as the provision of a long-handled crank handle to operate the cover from the grouund.

Mole Valley Feed Solutions was fined £6000 plus £4000 costs for a breach of regulation 6 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR). This states, in summary, that every employer shall ensure that work is not carried out at height where it is reasonably practicable to carry out the work safely otherwise than ta height.

Unsafe roofing work: £2000 fine

Health and Safety Executive v Daniel Loftus (2012) Wirral magistrates’ court, June.

David Loftus, a roofer, has been fined for unsafe work practices.

Significant points of the case

  • In November 2011 a pasing HSE inspector observed Loftus and another worker on the roof of a house in Wallasey.
  • They were five metres above the ground. Loftus allowed the other worker to use a lit gas burner on the roof without any measures in place to prevent him being injured in a fall.
  • There was no scaffolding or guarding around the edge of the roof to prevent either worker being injured in a fall. The workers had used a ladder which rested against guttering, to access the roof. They had then walked along it.
  • Loftus had also failed to cordon off the footpath immediately below the roof. This out members of the public at risk of being injured by faling debris or tools.
  • Roof care Ltd, Loftus’ employer, had provided him with a worksheet which stated that scaffolding had to be used for the work. He had ignored this. The scaffolding was in his van, but he had not unloaded or erected it.

Loftus was fined £2000 plus £600 costs for a breach of section 7 (a) HSW Act, for failing to take reasonable care of the health and safety of other people while at work.

Vehicle death: £80,000 fine

Health and Safety Executive v JH Hallam (Contracts) Ltd and J&H Construction Ltd (2012) Leicester Crown Court, May

JH Hallam (Contracts) Ltd and J&H Construction Ltd have been fined following an incident in which a worker was killed in a vehicle incident.

Significant points of the case

  • In October 2006 Richard Kenny, an employee of J&H Construction, was driving a mini digger on a construction site in Melton Mowbray. The digger was crushed when a tipper lorry, carrying 20 tonnes of aggregate, overturned on uneven ground. Kenny suffered fatal injuries.
  • The workplace transport risk assessment failed to properly consider tipping operations and, specifically, the risks of vehicles overturning. The tipping area had not been adequately assessed as being safe for tipping operations. It was not sufficiently level and had been poorly prepared.
  • Deliveries of bulk materials were made without adequate supervision, a banksman or an exclusion zone around the vehicle during tipping. Pedestrians were not kept away from vehicles, particularly during tipping.

JH Hallam, the principal contractor for the construction project, was fined £80,000 plus £20,000 costs under section 3, HSW Act, for failing to ensure the health and safety of non-employees. J&H Construction was fined £50,000 plus £20,000 costs for a breach of section 2, HSW Act, for failing to ensure the health and safety of employees.

Burn injuries: £5000 fine

Health and Safety Executive v Marling Leek Ltd (2012) Stafford magistrates’ court, July

Marling Leek Ltd, a compnay which manufactures webbing for seatbelts and harnesses, has been fined following an incident in which a worker suffered severe burns when his arms were trapped in a machine.

Significant points of the case

  • Stewart Wood was a dye machine operative employed by Marling. In August 2011 he was working at the company’s site in Leek, Staffordshire. Webbing became trapped in the machine. He climbed onto the machine without isolating it to try to unravel the webbing. His left arm was drawn in between the unguarded rollers of the machine. His right arm was also drawn in. He suffered severe burns and skin damage.
  • Marling Leek had failed to implement a safe system of work for the job which Wood was doing. The company had exposed employees to risks for a number of years.
  • Wood had been employed by Marling for 12 years. He had never received adequate information, training or written instructions on how to carry out the common task of removing wrap-arounds safely.
  • The HSE served two improvement notices after the incident. The first required the company to carry out a thorough risk assessment to include dealing with wrap-arounds and working at height.
  • The second notice concerned the electrcis in the site’s powder dye room, which were found not to be waterproof despite being in a wet environment.

Marling Leek Ltd was fined £5000 plus £5800 costs under section 2, HSW Act, for failing to ensure the health and safety of employees.

Amputated finger: £7000 fine

Health and Safety Executive v Phoenix Brands Ltd (2012) Wolverhampton magistrates’ court, June 29

Phoenix Brands Ltd, a food production company, has been fined after a young worker suffered an amputated finger.

Significant points of the case

  • In November 2011 a sixteen-year old, employed part-time by Phoenix, was clearing a blockage on a biscuit crumbing machine at the compnay’s site in Bilston.
  • He reached into the machine’s hopper. His right hand was pulled into a screw conveyor, a machine which uses a rotating screw blade to break biscuits.
  • The worker injured his fingers. The middle finger had to be amputated.
  • Both the hopper and the screw conveyor were unguarded, and had been since the machine was installed.
  • The risks of clearing blockages had not been properly identified.

Phoenix Brands Ltd was fined £7000 plus £4000 costs for a breach of Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER).

Poorly guarded machinery: £10,000 fine

Health and Safety Executive v Frame Trade UK Ltd (2012) Southern Derbyshire magistrates’ court, June 28

Frame Trade UK Ltd, a window manufacturing company, has been fined following and incident in which a worker’s arm was dragged into a poorly guarded machine.

Significant points of the case

  • In May 2010 Wayne Marshall, an employee of Frame Trade, was working at the company’s premises in Langley Mill, Derbyshire. He was using a corner cleaning machine.
  • Plastic debris had accumulated in the machine and covered a sensor, preventing it from working properly. Marshall entered the machine to clear the debris. His sleeve was caught on a high speed cutter used to remove surplus plastic. He suffered a lacerated arm and damaged tendons.
  • The machine was not properly guarded. Marshall had not been instructed in how to correctly isolate power to the machine. The machine had side panels but these were not fixed in place. Employees were easily able to remove them.

Fair Trade UK Ltd was fined £10,000 plus £6500 costs under Regulation 11 of the Provision and use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER).


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