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Archive for November, 2018

Workers injured in gas leak fire: Southern Gas Networks plc fined £1.2 million

Workers injured in gas leak fire: two companies fined

Health and Safety Executive v Southern Gas Networks plc and Cliffe Contractors Ltd (2018) Folkestone magistrates’ court, November 6

Statutory reference: ss. 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work, etc., Act 1974 (HSWA)

A gas distribution company and a construction company have been fined after two workers suffered injuries after a gas main ignited.

The facts

  • In May 2016 Southern Gas (SGN) employees went to a gas escape in Whitstable, Kent. The escape had been caused by workers employed by Cliffe Contractors damaging a gas main during construction work.
  • During the repair, the gas ignited. One SGN worker suffered severe burns and another suffered cuts and bruises.
  • Cliffe Contractors had not followed safe digging techniques when working around the gas pipeline. The gas main was damaged by a mechanical excavator, which resulted in the release of a significant amount of gas.
  • SGN did not follow its own procedures and recognised safe systems of work when repairing the main.

The decision

  • Southern Gas Networks plc was fined £1.2 million plus £18,000 costs under s.2 of HSWA.
  • Cliffe Contractors Ltd was fined £60,000 plus £12,000 costs for breaches of ss. 2 and 3 of HSWA.

 


Death of worker: Viridor Waste Management Ltd fined £650,000

Death of worker: waste management company fined

Health and Safety Executive v Viridor Waste Management Ltd (2018) Aylesbury Crown Court, October 26

Statutory reference: regulation 11of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR).

Viridor Waste Management Ltd has been fined after a worker suffered fatal injuries while cleaning a ballistic separator.

The facts

  • In August 2016 an employee of Viridor climbed into the top level of a ballistic separator. This machine sifts and separates recyclable materials. The worker went into the machine to clean it before it was isolated from the power supply.
  • When he was inside the machine, the power supply was turned on and the machine started. The worker suffered fatal injuries.
  • The company had failed to identify, by using a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, the risks of cleaning the machine.
  • It had failed to put in place safe systems to ensure the safety of workers carrying out the cleaning task.
  • There were inadequate guarding measures in place at the top level of the machine. This created ready access to dangerous parts of machinery at the time of the incident.

The decision

Viridor was fined £650,000 plus £34,000 costs under regulation 11 of PUWER and regulation 3 of MHSWR.

An HSE inspector commented after the case that every year, a significant number of serious or fatal injuries occurred in the waste and recycling industry because machines were inadequately guarded and because activities such as clearing blockages and maintenance were undertaken when machinery was running.


Farm death: partnership fined £100,000

Farm death: partnership fined £100,000

Health and Safety Executive v JS Wood & Son (2018) Carlisle Crown Court, October 26

Statutory reference: regulation 17 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 (WHSWR)

JS Wood & Son, a farming partnership, has been fined following an incident in which a worker suffered fatal head injuries.

The facts

  • In January 2017 an employee of Wragmire Bank farm, operated by the JS Wood & Son partnership, was struck by a moving tractor. He suffered fatal head injuries.
  • The partnership had not taken action to ensure that pedestrians and vehicles could circulate safely.
  • The incident had taken place on the main thoroughfare of the busy farm. Workers had to cross this route, which was regularly used by farm vehicles.

The decision

The partnership was fined £100,000 plus £7000 costs under regulation 17 of WHSWR.


Death of worker in baler: company and director sentenced

Death of worker in baler: company and director sentenced

Health and Safety Executive v Gaskell’s (North West) Ltd and Jonathan Gaskell (2018) Liverpool Crown Court, October 29

Statutory reference: ss. 2 and 37 of the Health and Safety at Work, Act 1974 (HSWA)

A waste and recycling company and its director have been sentenced after a worker was killed in a baling machine.

The facts

  • In December 2010 Zbigniew Galka, an employee of the company, was working at its site in Bootle.
  • The company used a machine to compress waste materials into small bales. The machine had a defeated interlock system which enabled workers to enter it while it was still working.
  • Galka entered the machine to clear a blockage. The machine activated and he suffered fatal injuries.
  • The safety interlock system had been defeated two months earlier. Poor maintenance meant that it required frequent operator intervention.
  • The machine could be operated while its guarding was open. This meant that it could operate, and production could continue, with the operator at serious risk of injury.

The decision

  • The company was fined £700,000 plus £99,000 costs under s.2 of HSWA.
  • Jonathan Gaskell, the company’s director, was sentenced to eight minths imprisonment under s.37 of HSWA.

Tufnells Parcels Express Ltd fined £1.5 million after death of worker

Logistics company fined £1.5 million after death of worker

Health and Safety Executive v Tuffnells Parcels Express Ltd (2018) Dudley magistrates’ court, September 11

Statutory reference: s.2 of the Health and Safety at Work, etc., Act 1974 (HSWA)

Tuffnells Parcels Express Ltd, a logistics company, has been fined following the death of a worker who was trapped between a trailer and a vehicle.

The facts

  • In January 2016 an employee of the company attempted to attach his vehicle to a trailer. The trailer was parked on a slight slope and it rolled forward, trapping the worker between it and his vehicle. He suffered fatal injuries.

The decision

The company was fined £1.5 million plus £32,000 costs under s.2 of HSWA.

An HSE spokesperson commented after the case that workplace transport was a high risk environment. Assessments of sites should be specific and identify the hazards unique to each workplace. The slope on which a vehicle was parked did not need to be steep for incidents to occur.


Death of worker from burns: Yorkshire Water Services fined £733,000

Death of worker: company fined £733,000

Health and Safety Executive v Yorkshire Water Services Ltd (2018) Leeds Crown Court, September 18

Statutory reference: s.2 of the Health and Safety at Work, etc., Act 1974 (HSWA)

Yorkshire Water Services Ltd has been fined following the death of a worker from burns.

The facts

  • In July 2015 Michael Jennings, a fitter employed by the company, was working in a confined space at Tadcaster Sewage Treatment Works.
  • Oxygen gas injection was used to assist the clean-up process.
  • Jennings was using an angle grinder to cut through of corroded bolts when sparks struck his overalls which burst into flames. He suffered fatal whole body burns.
  • The atmosphere in the confined space was oxygen-enriched which greatly increased the risk of fire.
  • A near-miss report had been recorded at the same place in 2014. The company had concluded that the issue was resolved and that there was no further risk from oxygen enrichment.
  • The company’s risk assessment and permit to work procedures had been inadequate. There were no site-specific procedures and the risk assessment form did not include oxygen enrichment as a possible hazard.
  • Workers did not have the knowledge or experience to recognise that oxygen enrichment was a potential hazard.

The decision

The company was fined £733,000 plus £18,000 under s.2 of HSWA.