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More new health and safety prosecutions

Health and Safety Executive v 2 Sisters Food Group (2019) Doncaster magistrates’ court, March 29

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

2 Sisters Food group, a food processing company, has been fined following an incident in which a worker suffered serious crush injuries.

The facts

  • In September 2012 an employee of the company was trying to clear a blockage on a conveyancing system at its site in Scunthorpe.
  • He was struck by a large metal stillage which crushed him at chest height against the end of the system. He suffered multiple injuries including fractured ribs, a fractured spine and a punctured lung.
  • The company had failed to identify deficiencies in the guarding of the machine. The clearing of blockages was normally carried out while the system was still in operation.

The decision

The company was fined £1.4 million plus £38,000 costs under ss. 2and 3 of HSWA.

 

Health and Safety Executive v GLA Land and Property Ltd (2019) Southwark Crown Court, May 2

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

GLA Land Property Ltd, the land and property section of the Greater London Authority, has been fined after the collapse of a wall and an advertising hoarding.

The facts

  • In January 2014 a family of four were walking along a pavement to Catford station when a wall and hoarding was blown onto the father of the family.
  • He suffered serious facial and skull injuries. The family remains affected by the incident.
  • GLA Land and Property engaged a company to manage and maintain the site. It had failed to oversee the contract properly. This resulted in the wall being not properly maintained.
  • The wall developed a crack which weakened and caused the hoarding to act as a sail in string winds. This led to the collapse of the wall.

The decision

GLA Land and Property Ltd was fined £250,000 plus £14,600 costs under s.3 of HSWA.

An HSE inspector commented after the case that a whole family had been traumatised by seeing the father suffer serious injuries.


Health and safety: recent prosecutions

Health and Safety Executive v Braegate Produce Ltd (2019) Leeds magistrates’ court, April 12

Statutory reference: regulation 4 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1991 (WHSWR)

Braegate Produce Ltd, a potato processing company, has been fined following an incident in which a worker was struck by a telehandler load.

The facts

  • In January 2018 Colin Smith was walking across the company’s yard when he was struck by three potato boxes which fell from the tines of a telehandler. He suffered a fractured leg.
  • The company had insufficient measures in place to prevent people being struck by a vehicle.
  • A protected walkway was provided only to two sides of the yard but not to the right side which was a well-used pedestrian route.
  • A large number of potato boxes had been stored in the yard. This meant that there was less room for pedestrians, who had to take a route further into the transport area.
  • The company had also failed to ensure that forklift truck and telehandler operators were clear about site rules dealing with the transportation of potato boxes and had failed to enforce those rules.

The decision

The company was fined £50,000 plus £962 costs under regulation 4 of WHSWR.

 

Health and Safety Executive v Westdale Services Ltd (2019) Cardiff magistrates’ court, April 12

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

Westdale Services Ltd has been fined after a 12 year old boy fell 10 metres from a scaffold ladder.

The facts

  • In May 2017 two boys climbed a scaffold ladder erected by the company in Cwmbran, South Wales. One boy climbed to the top platform of the scaffold. The ladder slipped and he fell 10 metres to the ground. He suffered life-changing injuries. He has no bladder or bowel control and is only able to walk short distances.
  • Security arrangements for preventing access to the scaffolding, especially by children from a nearby school, were inadequate.

The decision

The company was fined £160,000 plus £22,000 costs under section 3 of HSWA.

An HSE inspector commented after the case that the potential for unauthorised access to construction sites must be carefully risk assessed and effective controls put in place.

 

Health and Safety Executive v Priory Healthcare Ltd (2019) Lewes Crown Court, April 17

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

The facts

  • In November 2012 Amy El-Keria, a 14 year-old patient at Priory Ticehurst House Hospital, was found in her room with a ligature around her neck. She had been transferred to the hospital following several similar attempts at her home. She suffered irreparable brain damage and failure of multiple organs which proved fatal.
  • The company had failed to identify or put in place control measures which would have better managed ligature risks.
  • It had failed to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment related to the presence of ligatures and ligature points.
  • It had failed to consider relevant industry and NHS guidance to inform its risk assessment process and to determine correct fixtures and fittings for units where patients were at high risk of self-harm and suicide.
  • It had also failed to ensure that staff working at the hospital were trained and their work practices appropriately monitored with respect to life support techniques.

The decision

The company was fined £300,000 plus £65,000 costs under s.3 of HSWA.


Constructive dismissal case law developments

CONSTRUCTIVE DISMISSAL

Fundamental breach

Unilateral salary cut

Case  Mostyn v S and P Casuals Ltd [2018] UKEAT/0158/17, Employment Appeal Tribunal

Facts M, a sales executive, reported poor sales figures over a four-year period. S, his employer, asked him to take a 50 per cent reduction in his salary. he refused and S stated that it would impose a unilateral salary cut. M resigned without notice and complained of constructive unfair dismissal on the basis that S’s conduct had breached the implied term of mutual trust and confidence. The ET rejected the claim, stating that M’s poor performance had given S reasonable and proper cause to take action which would otherwise breach the implied term. M appealed to the EAT.

Decision      1. The appeal was allowed and the matter remitted to a fresh tribunal.

  1. Unilateral pay cuts breached a fundamental term of any contract of employment and would generally entitle immediate resignation.
  2. Tribunals should never assess whether an employer’s “reasonableness” could justify a fundamental breach of contract.

 

CONSTRUCTIVE DISMISSAL

Last straw

Affirmation of breaches of contract

Case  Kaur v Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust [2018] EWCA Civ 978, Court of Appeal

Facts K was subject to disciplinary proceedings following an altercation with a colleague. She was issued with a final written warning for inappropriate behaviour. Her appeal was dismissed. On the following day she resigned, claiming that the rejection of the appeal amounted to the last straw in a series of events which, taken cumulatively, breached the implied duty of mutual trust and confidence. On behalf of her employer it was argued that because she had continued to work following earlier incidents which she cited, which included unjustified comments about her performance, she had affirmed any possible earlier breach and could not, for the purposes of a constructive dismissal claim, invoke them as part of the relevant chain of events culminating with the appeal outcome. The ET rejected her claim on the basis that the disciplinary and appeal decisions had been reached in compliance with a far process and could not contribute to the repudiation of her employment contract. Her appeal was dismissed by the EAT and she appealed to the Court of Appeal.

Decision      1. The appeal was dismissed.

The Court of Appeal made the following points:

  • Even where an employee affirms repudiatory breaches caused by earlier employer conduct, for example by continuing to work as normal, further damaging acts on the part of an employer at a later date can revive a potential constructive dismissal claim, taking the full chain of events into account.
  • What was the employer’s most recent act/omission which the employee says triggered their resignation?
  • Has the employee affirmed the contact since that date?
  • If not, was that act/omission by itself a repudiatory breach of contract?
  • If not, was it nevertheless a part of a course of conduct (regardless of any intervening affirmation) comprising several acts and omissions which. viewed cumulatively, amounted to a breach of the implied term of trust and confidence?
  • Did the employee resign in response to that breach?

Miscarriages of justice

Miscarriages of justice

Without going into detail, which is outside the scope of this book, readers might wish to be reminded of the following:

  • Guildford Four. In summary, a group of three men and one woman who were convicted for the Guildford pub bombings in 1975. All four confessed. They were sentenced to life imprisonment. The trial judge is reported to have commented that he regretted that they had not been charged with treason, which carried the death penalty. Their convictions were quashed in 1989. They stated that their confessions had been obtained by intimidation and torture. Alibi evidence was not shown to the police. There was evidence of police collusion in fabricating evidence.
  • Maguire Seven. Seven persons who were convicted of handling explosives and were sentenced to terms ranging from 4 to 14 years. The convictions were quashed in 1991. The court stated that police officers had beaten some of them into confessing and had withheld information. Forensic evidence was discredited.
  • Judith Ward. A woman who confessed to a number of bombings. She was convicted despite retracting the confessions and spent 18 years in prison before her conviction was quashed. Her confession had resulted from a mental illness. Forensic evidence was unreliable.
  • Birmingham Six. Six men were sentenced to life imprisonment in 1975 for the Birmingham pub bombings. Their convictions were overturned in 1991. They had been forced to sign statements and there was evidence that the police had fabricated evidence.
  • Bridgwater Four. Four men were convicted of murder in 1978. In 1997 they were released on the basis that their trial had been unfair and following allegations of serious, substantial and widespread police malpractice.
  • Tottenham Three. Three men were convicted of murder following the Broadwater Farm riots in 1985. Their convictions were quashed four years later when it was shown that police notes of interrogations had been tampered with.
  • Stefan Kiszko. Kiszko spent 17 years in prison for a murder to which he confessed. Forensic evidence had been suppressed by the police. He was released in 1992. The Kiszko case has been described as the worst miscarriage of justice of all time.
  • Cardiff Three. Three men who were sentenced to life imprisonment for murder. Their convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal. Police evidence was described as almost entirely a fabrication and largely the product of the imagination. The court stated that it was hard to conceive of a more hostile and intimidatory approach by police officers.
  • Sally Clark. A solicitor, wrongly convicted of the murder of her two sons. She was released after serving three years of her sentence. Statistical evidence was deeply flawed. Clark was unable to recover from the effects of her conviction and imprisonment.

These are some of the most extreme and well-publicised examples of the wrongful conviction and imprisonment of the innocent. The list goes on and on but never seems to affect the constant myth that English justice is the finest in the world, that all foreign systems are in some way inferior.

 

In McIlkenny v Chief Constable of West Midlands Police Force (1980), where the Birmingham Six, later to be released on appeal, brought civil proceedings against the police. Lord Denning struck out the action and commented:

If the six men win, it will mean that the police were guilty of perjury, that they were guilty of violence and threats, and that the confessions were involuntary and were improperly admitted in evidence and that the convictions were erroneous. That would mean that the Home Secretary would either have to recommend that they be pardoned or he would have to remit the case to the Court of Appeal. This is such an appalling vista that every sensible person in the land would say: it cannot be right that these actions should go further.

 


LAW critical analysis Part 4: law reform

Reform proposals

In 1986 Lord Gifford QC published proposals for the reform of the justice system, described as a realisable manifesto for a complete overhaul of the legal system. This included the following:

  • The position of Queen’s Counsel to be abolished. It is better, in Gifford’s opinion, for lawyers to be assessed by their talents and reputation rather than by the secret bestowal of honours by the state.
  • Wigs and gowns no longer to be worn. The wig and gown are intended to convey a message: that we, judges and barristers, are different and superior; that we have more in common with each other than with you, the litigants; that we practice a craft which you can never understand.
  • Judges to be appointed from a wide range of people, including younger people, solicitors and academics.
  • Magistrates to be selected from across the whole community.
  • Extension of the right to trial by jury.
  • Court procedures to be reformed to meet the needs of the public.
  • Extension of the legal aid scheme.
  • The creation and proper funding of a network of community law centres across the country. The Legal Aid and Advice Act 1949 was based on the principle that no-one should be prevented from obtaining the services of a lawyer through lack of means. State funds were made available through a means test. In 1950 an estimated 80 per cent of the population was covered by legal aid.
  • The abolition of the monopoly of advocacy. This was a very interesting proposal. Gifford argued that non-lawyers should have the right to represent people in court and that all qualified lawyers should have rights of audience before all courts. This would move towards the democratisation of the legal system. If implemented, it would strike a serious blow at the power of the legal profession.

Gifford also made the following points:

  • Comprehensive legal services should be provided in a similar way to health services.
  • Socially and culturally, the Bar is a privileged profession which is structured to exclude those who do not fit in.
  • The role of judges should be to uphold the law equally and impartially. But when they have no conception of what it is to be, for example, a worker facing redundancy, they are incapable of discharging that role.

This programme of reforms was adopted as part of the election manifesto of the Labour party and then forgotten.

In reality, we have moved backwards since 1986.

 

It is significant that Gifford’s proposals are similar, in some respects, to those put forward by the Levellers in the Seventeenth Century.

The Levellers’ proposed reforms included:

  • Codification and simplification of the law
  • Prison reform
  • Decentralisation of the legal system
  • The abolition of the lawyers’ monopoly on representation and advocacy.

These proposals are fully examined in Chapter 3 (Dissent).


LAW Part 3: the criticism continues

In the interests of fairness and balance, what is good, in summary, about the English legal system?

 

  • The independence of the judiciary.
  • The incorruptibility of the judiciary in the sense of financial bribery. The English judiciary, unlike the legislature, has never been the subject of financial scandal.
  • The jury system, as the only democratic element in the system, which is constantly under attack.
  • The Human Rights Act 1998.
  • A general adherence to the rule of law.
  • A highly developed and sophisticated system of legal education.
  • The permitted scope for individualism in the legal profession, which results in a small number of highly committed progressive lawyers.
  • Law Centres.
  • The Legal Action Group and its publications.
  • The remnants of legal aid.
  • Health and safety law and some aspects of employment law.
  • The common law dealing with workplace stress.
  • Some other areas of substantive law, for example road traffic, food hygiene, environmental law and common law negligence. These areas are not generally concerned with commerce, property or money.
  • Progressive organisations, for example Liberty, the Haldane Society, Reprieve, Amnesty International and the Legal Action Group.
  • Resistance by the judiciary to the increasing power of the executive.
  • The intellectual achievements of the senior judiciary.

 

Before 2003 it seemed to be clear that the most important issue facing English law was the denial of justice to the poor. But the Iraq War has emerged as more significant than the buying and selling of justice, for the following reasons:

 

  • The application of English law has been seen to be partly responsible for a wholly avoidable humanitarian disaster.
  • Senior members of the former British government are regularly accused, in the press, of war crimes.
  • Any claims which the British government might have had to moral ascendancy have been swept aside. The moral high ground has been lost, and English law is implicated in this debacle.
  • English lawyers have not, in general, spoken out or acted against the first major illegal international act of the twenty-first century. Individual lawyers and judges have protested but professional associations have, to their shame, been largely silent.

The Iraq War is fully examined in Chapter 5.


LAW: a critical analysis of the English legal system Part 2

Some lawyers who have made a reasonable living from the practice of English law have not embraced the legal system as a saviour or a benefactor. They have always been critical. They aim to continue to be critical. They will not forget the circumstances in which their families struggled to survive and the role of English law in the preservation of a social and economic system which condemned their parents and grandparents to lives of unceasing toil and hardship.

 

Some lawyers do not love the law. They do not find it particularly fascinating. They do not like putting on fancy dress or enjoying the sound of their own voices.They do feel passionate about the denial of justice to the poor.

 

These lawyers do not find themselves under any obligation to put forward positive suggestions for the reform of the system other than to call for a national network of properly-funded Law Centres. Those who did not create the English legal system  have no responsibility for its rescue.

 

Law reformers are thick on the ground in England, beavering away for years in committees which produce vast reports which are then often forgotten, or sweating over their chances of academic promotion by producing books and articles advocating the reform of  specific areas of law.

When law reform is carried through, more often than not it creates more complexities and obscurities than it resolves. The conditional fee system, for example, imported from America despite decades of principled opposition from those who reacted with revulsion against ambulance chasing, sounds deceptively simple. Some claimants have an almost childlike faith in “no win no fee”, which on the face of it is a clear concept. The reality is different.

 

The conditional fee system is overlaid with a mass of detail related to insurance. Insurance companies have profited massively since the evisceration of legal aid.

The system of conditional and/or contingency fees is so complex that it has become a new area of specialism. It may soon be a specialist subject in its own right, on law degree syllabuses. Non-experts have very little chance of understanding, let alone explaining, its bewildering complexities. There is plenty of money to be made from specialising in conditional fee law without ever taking on a no win no fee client.The reality is that lawyers will not generally take on no win no fee cases unless they are virtually unloseable.

 

Another example of a failed reform was the introduction of the employment dispute regulations. This reform was money-based with the overall intention of cutting down the number of employment tribunal claims. The new regulations were generally accepted to be disastrous and have now been repealed. This is fully discussed in Chapter 6 (Mystery).

 

The key point to be made in summarising the current state of the English legal system is that poor people can’t afford justice.


LAW: a critical analysis of the English legal system Part 1: Introduction

 

He saw a lawyer killing a viper

On a dunghill hard by his own stable;

and the Devil smiled, for it put him in mind

of Cain and his brother, Abel

(Coleridge, The Devil’s Thoughts)

This book is written for non-lawyers and lawyers. It has the following aims:

  • In general, to communicate a highly critical analysis of the current state of English law and lawyers.
  • To continue to emphasise the overwhelming importance of the illegality of the Iraq war.
  • To expose, explain and illustrate the central role of money in the English legal system.
  • To argue, on behalf of non-lawyers, for the simplification, demystification and clarification of English legal rules.
  • To examine the growing involvement of charity in the English legal system.
  • To analyse English law and lawyers from the perspective of class justice.
  • To restate and to publicise neglected voices of dissent on law and lawyers.
  • To discuss the concept of human rights.
  • To illustrate, with recent examples, the significance of health and safety law in the English legal system.
  • To put forward realistic suggestions for alternative legal practice.
  • To discuss the meaning and significance of dissent in the context of legal practice.
  • To challenge existing preconceptions and accepted wisdom about the role of English law and lawyers.
  • To discuss the effect, in a historical context, of revolutionary changes in society on law and lawyers.
  • To raise public awareness and stimulate discussion of the key current issues in English law.

 

Chapter 1 looks at Money. It puts forward the argument that money is the key which unlocks the meaning of English law. It discusses the relationship between poverty and the enforcement of legal rights. No win no fee arrangements and legal aid are critically analysed. The Chapter also considers lawyers’ earnings, law as business and the scandal of miners’ compensation. It also examines the cost of becoming a lawyer and discusses the dubious history of Claims Direct.

 

Chapter 2 concerns Class. It defines and discusses the concept of class justice. The Chapter discusses the Crimewatch television programme as an exemplar of the spectacle of class justice and goes on to provide examples of class justice in practice. These examples include alcohol prohibition in the United States and the English system of Crown immunity. The current role of the English judiciary is considered. The Chapter also looks at examples of revolutionary legal systems including the Paris Commune and Cuba.

 

Chapter 3 deals with Dissent. It sets out rarely-published views of law. These include statements on the legal system from voices including the Levellers, William Godwin, American radical lawyers, Jessica Mitford, Nelson Mandela, Albie Sachs, E.P. Thompson, Tolstoy, Kropotkin, Emma Goldman and the French Illegalists. The importance of the McLibel case is also considered.  Material from the Haldane Society and the Up Against the Law collective is included.

 

Chapter 4 looks at Rights. It deals with the relationship between individual and collective human rights, examines the torture “debate” and sets out material dealing with human rights in Cuba and in the post-apartheid Constitution of South Africa.

 

Chapter 5 deals with war, specifically the Iraq War. It argues that the legality of the Iraq War is the most important issue which currently faces English lawyers. It examines the legal issues arising from the War and considers English case law connected with the War. The Chapter analyses the effect of the Iraq War on the relationship between law and morality. It discusses the Nuremburg principles and examines the death penalty as illustrated by the “squalid lynching” of Saddam Hussein. It concludes with a critical comparative analysis of health and safety in a war context.

 

Chapter 6 – Mystery – attempts to unravel the mysteries of English law. It sets out a list of words and phrases in common use by lawyers which form a sort of secret code. The Chapter considers the reasons for obscure legal language, discusses legal Latin and sets out examples of clarity in the law. Examples of extreme mystery are also considered. Aspects of employment law are analysed in detail as illustrations of unnecessary mystification. Recent examples of judicial comments on demystification are set out.

 

Chapter 7 discusses current legal practice. It considers the advocacy monopoly and suggests methods of alternative practice. The Chapter examines the apparent contradictions between the public perception of lawyers and the image which the profession aims to project. The Queen’s Counsel system is analysed. Barristers’ public access rules are examined. The Chapter continues with a consideration of the nature of advocacy, the position of unrepresented litigants and the process by which lawyers qualify.

 

The book concludes with a list of further reading, a glossary of technical words and phrases, a list of cases and a detailed index.

 

Footnotes are deliberately excluded from the material. The main reason for this is that the author has struggled through too many books with more footnotes than text to be able to follow the thread of the material, and aims to avoid these diversionary fragmentations. Full case references, further reading and a detailed index are provided for those readers who may wish to follow up references in the text.

 

The material is subdivided throughout into a number of levels of headings and frequent use is made of bullet points. The aim of these devices is to make the text more accessible to the reader than conventional legal textbooks.


Health and Safety Horrors Part 18: Final Part: Universities, Warehouses, Wells, Wind turbines

UNIVERSITIES

Bomblet explosion

In February 2011 three employees at the Explosives Research Section at Cranfield University were deactivating cluster bomblets. One of the bomblets exploded and caused serious injuries to a worker. The injuries included severe abdominal injuries and lacerations. No suitable risk assessment had been carried out for this type of activity and therefore the system of working was unsafe. The university’s management team were unware of the process being carried out by workers to deal with this type of ammunition.

 

WAREHOUSES

Racking collapse death

In March 2009 Desanka Todovoric, an employee of Merley Paper Converters Ltd, was working at the company’s warehouse in Corby. She was waiting to collect flat pack boxes when racking collapsed and fell on her, causing fatal injuries. The racking which collapsed had been in a poor condition. Important locking pins were missing.

An HSE inspector commented after the case that if the company had properly erecetd and maintained its racking, the incident would never have happened. Virtually all industries use racking in one form or another. It was hoped that the case would serve as a reminder that attention to detail was crucial when erecting, maintaining and inspecting racking to ensure its integrity.

 

WELLS

Fall down well: serious injuries

During an open house viewing of a property, a prospective buyer stepped onto a wooden board which was covering a well. The board gave way and she fell 30 feet down the well. She suffered head injuries and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.  The estate agents had been warned about the well and that the board which was covering it did not look safe. The estate agents did not properly investigate if there was a risk of people falling down the well.

Fall into sewage well

In August 2011 an employee of Tardis Environmental UK Ltd,  who wishes to remain anonymous, was clearing a sewage well blockage at a housing development in Halesowen, West Midlands. A pump at the bottom of the well had stopped working because it had become blocked with bulky waste material. The employee used a road tanker with pump and hose attachments. He opened a grid at the top of the well and stood over it to manoeuvre the hose. The hose moved and caused him to fall into the well. He ingested raw sewage and suffered friction burns and bruising. He had been trained in the use of the pumping equipment but had not received any instruction or training in how to empty deep sewage wells.

.

WIND TURBINES

Wind turbine death in gearbox shaft

Colin Sinclair, an employee of Siemens plc, was inspecting a wind turbine at Causeymire windfarm in December 2015. He escorted RWE Innogy UK Ltd staff to the top of a wind turbine. His harness became entangled in a high-speed unguarded rotating shaft of a gearbox. He suffered fatal injuries. The gearbox had been inadequately guarded since January 2009 and the rotating shafts were exposed.


The Little Book of Health and Safety Horrors Part 17: Schools, Sporting Estates and Transport

SCHOOLS

Repton School staircase injuries

In November 2013 Christine Bywater went to Repton School to watch her grandson play football.  She left the school pavilion and stepped on a stone staircase. She fell from the staircase to the ground five metres below. She suffered multiple injuries. The stone staircase had a parapet running along its edge but no handrail. An HSE inspector made the following comments after the case:

This was a foreseeable incident which could easily have been avoided if reasonable measures, for example the fitting of guard rails, had been taken.

Published guidance exists regarding appropriate edge protection and dimensions for handrails which the school could have used to identify the appropriate standard.

Camping fire

In July 2011a group of girls from a school in East Ham went on a camping trip in West Sussex. One of the girls poured methylated spirits from a five-litre container onto a cooking stove when she thought that it was going out. This caused a flashover. The girl suffered severe burns to her hands, arms, face, neck and legs. The incident could have been avoided if basic precautions had been taken. Fuel should have been kept in the correct containers, safely stored and simple procedures followed for lighting the stove.

An HSE inspector commented after the case that councils, schools and voluntary groups which organise camping trips involving the use of highly flammable stove fuel must ensure that they implement effective precautions to prevent the ignition of fuel or vapour.

Toxic chemical injuries

In January 2012 Bret Thomas, a school pupil then aged 16, was on an extended work experience placement at Motorhouse 2000 Ltd’s site in Cannock. He was told to help an employee who was refilling a wheel stripping tank. The employee  poured paint stripper from plastic containers into the tank and then passed the containers to Thomas who removed their labels and cut them in half. As he was cutting the last container with a Stanley knife, the container flicked up and the remains of the paint stripper splashed into his eyes and face. He was not wearing face or eye protection. He suffered burns to his face and eyes. His vision was seriously affected for a month and his face is scarred.

 

Four-year old pupil injured

In September 2016 a four-year old pupil at St Joseph’s RC Primary School in Mossley was allowed to go to the girls’ toilet alone. She was heard screaming and was found with her fingers trapped in the hinges of the toilet door. Her right middle finger suffered a partial amputation. The finger guard on the door was missing. It had not been fitted when the toilets were converted five years before. There was no system in place for checking and monitoring door guards. Staff had also notified the former head teacher that the door was too heavy for young children to open.

 

SPORTING ESTATE

Shotgun wound

A worker was acting as a flanker to funnel grouse towards a line of guns and to stop birds flying out of the side of the drive at the Danby Moor Settlement in North Yorkshire. He was shot when he was directly in front of the line of guns. He was struck by shotgun pellets. The optic nerve in his left eye was severed and he was permanently blinded.

 

TRANSPORT

Death from crushing between two buses

In October 2011 Lee Baker, an employee of  West Midlands Travel, a subsidiary of the National Express Group, was working a night shift at the company’s depot in Walsall. He was attempting to move a double-decker bus to gain access to a pit by pushing it manually. Baker inadvertently left the gearbox of the vehicle in drive. When he left the vehicle, the bus crushed him against another vehicle. He suffered fatal crush injuries. No supervisor had been on duty at the time of the incident and the company had failed to carry out a suitable risk assessment in relation to moving buses manually. Employees had not been trained in a safe system of work for moving buses not under their own power and had allowed the practice of workers pushing buses during night shifts. The company had a recovery agency to tow broken-down vehicles to the depot and inside it, but before the incident only supervisors knew how to call out the agency. The lack of a clear, safe system of work and a supervisor had led the deceased attempting to devise his own way of dealing with a problem which was preventing him from getting on with his work.

Crushing death

Ahmet Yakar, a Turkish national who did not speak English, made a delivery with his lorry at Morganite Electrical Carbon Ltd’s site in Swansea. He was supplied with a hand-operated pallet truck to move boxes of graphite parts to the back of his lorry. The boxes, which were stacked four high, became unstable. They toppled and crushed him. He suffered fatal injuries. The company did not have safe working procedures for receiving and unloading delivery vehicles. It did not carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment for unloading at the site. The company did not have a set policy for dealing with drivers who did not speak English.

Fatal head injuries

In June 2012 Mark Wintersgill, a mechanic employed by PPR Transport Services, was attempting to jack up the axle of a double decker HGV trailer at the company’s site in Lutterworth, Leicestershire. He was using an air jack powered by a compressor. He was thought to have placed wooden blocks on top of the jack to increase its lifting height. The jack separated from the axle and struck him, causing fatal head injuries. He was attempting to jack the trailer on a set of concrete ramps. This meant that the trailer’s landing legs were below the level of the rear axles. This could have encouraged the unit to rock forward when the jacking began. Wintersgill should not have been under a vehicle being lifted until it was fully supported by appropriate chassis or axle stands.

Driver killed by runaway lorry

In December 2010 Russell Horner, an employee of Nightfreight (GB) Ltd, was working a nightshift at the company’s premises in Earls Barton, Northampton shire. He was coupling a tractor unit to a trailer when his vehicle moved off and crushed him against a stationary vehicle. He suffered fatal chest injuries. The HSE investigation discovered that drivers were coupling up vehicles without applying handbrakes or turning off vehicle engines. This dangerous practice was in breach of the company’s rules and was known to the company which had failed to effectively monitor employees and ensure that they followed the correct safe working procedure. There were no appropriate measures in place to prevent vehicles rolling away.

 

Driver impaled on steel tube

In August 2008 a horizontal swing barrier on Henry Williams Group Ltd’s Darlington site had been left open to allow Jason Ripley, a delivery driver, access to an unloading point. Ripley was delivering timber to the site. The barrier comprised a six meter long, 60mm diameter steel tube. As he drove towards the open barrier on his way through, the end of the bar was not visible. It broke through the windscreen of Ripley’s vehicle and impaled him through the chest. The tube fractured three ribs and caused damage to a lung. The company had failed to assess the risks involved with vehicles driving on and off the site and there was no means of securing the swing barrier in the open position.

 

Death from fume inhalation

In August 2011 Steven Conway, an employee of Diamond Wheels (Dundee) Ltd, was responsible for general duties at its premises. These duties included collections and deliveries, removing and replacing tyres and moving allow wheels in and out of a chemical paint stripping tank. He was overcome by dichloromethane vapour while attempting to remove stripping debris from the tank. He died as a result of the inhalation.The company had provided Conway with no formal training in respect of the use of the tank and the stripping agent used by the company

Shovel loader death

In September 2006 Wayne Meylan was working at Need a Skip Ltd’s site in West Bromwich. He was crouching over a manhole, cleaning out a drain pump, when he was run over by a 13- tonne shovel loader. He suffered fatal injuries. The company had no transport plan in place to segregate people from vehicles. Its on-site health and safety training plan had not been followed. The company had previously been warned of the risks associated with workplace transport during a routine HSE inspection.

An HSE inspector is reported to have commented that the ad hoc approach by the company to its on-site activities, combined with heavy machinery moving around, meant that there was a high potential for an incident.

Apprentice trapped under bus

In September 2009 Ben Burgin, an apprentice then aged 17, was working with an experienced colleague at  Yorkshire Traction Company’s Barnsley depot to repair a braking fault on a bus fitted with an air suspension system. They attempted to deal with the fault while the bus was on the garage floor rather than moving the vehicle over an inspection pit. Burgin was working underneath the bus near the front passenger wheel when the air suspension failed and the bus dropped onto him. He suffered severe facial injuries and had to be freed by another worker. The injuries required restorative plastic surgery to his nose and eye socket.

The investigating HSE inspector is reported to have commented that when employing young people, it was crucial that companies took account of their obvious lack of experience and lack of awareness of risk. The risks involved when working on buses with air suspension systems were well known in the motor industry. The latest guidance had warnings about never working beneath them unless they were properly supported The purpose of assessing risks which young people might encounter was not to produce paperwork but to protect them.

Crushing incident: severe brain damage

An employee of Signature Support London Luton Ltd was working at Luton Airport in April 2015. She was opening the doors of a hangar to move aircraft inside. She was trapped by the doors and suffered serious crushing injuries which resulted in severe brain damage. The employing company had failed to conduct adequate planning and had also failed to provide adequate training and written instructions,

Crushing death

In May 2013 John Wallace, an employee of Ontime Automotive Ltd, was jet washing a twin deck recovery vehicle at the company’s premises in Hayes, Middlesex. The upper deck collapsed and crushed him. He suffered fatal injuries. The vehicle had been poorly designed by J&J Conversions Ltd. The upper deck was only stable when it was secured by two powered locking pins. It was possible to lower the locking pins was incorrectly operated by hand. A correct design would have used a device which could not be operated by hand. Ontime had failed to control this unsafe practice.  J&J Conversions had failed to remedy the issue after the upper deck had collapsed on a previous occasion.