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Spill control company sentenced after worker suffers life-changing injury 09/08/2019

A company that manufactures absorbents and spill control products has been fined after an agency worker suffered a life-changing injury to her hand when it was caught in a rotating fan blade.

Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 18t October 2017, the 34-year-old agency worker had been working her second shift at the NPS Worldwide UK Limited site at Oldham. While removing a blockage inside the filling machine she had been operating, her fingers became caught in an unguarded rotating fan. The agency worker lost parts of all of her fingers on her right hand, sustained extensive scarring to her stomach following an unsuccessful attempt to generate new skin growth to save her fingers, and continues to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the incident and the injuries sustained.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the fan had not been suitably guarded, putting employees and agency workers at risk. The company had failed to carry out a suitable risk assessment and provide adequate information, instruction and training to workers. No first aid provision was available on the night shift when the incident occurred, and this contributed to the injured person suffering further as incorrect first aid was administered.

NPS Worldwide UK Limited of Vulcan Business Park, Derker Street, Oldham, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Regulation 3(2) of the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981. The company was fined £28,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,771.

HSE inspector Sharon Butler said after the hearing: “This injury could have easily been prevented and the risk should have been identified.

“Employers must make sure they properly assess and apply effective control measures to minimise the risk from dangerous parts of machinery.”

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Recycling firm fined after worker loses fingers clearing baler blockage 09/08/2019

A Manchester based company has been fined after an employee seriously injured his hand and lost two fingers whilst operating a baler at their site in Bradford Street, Bolton.

Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 2 October 2018, the worker, who had been employed at Wrapp Recycling Ltd for just eight weeks, attempted to clear a blockage in the hopper of the machine while it was switched on.

After removing the guard he leaned into the machine and moved the blocked plastic. The ram then activated, crushing his hand. The incident caused extensive damage to his hand, including the amputation of two fingers for which he is still undergoing treatment. He has since been unable to return to work.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had installed a removable guard as blockages in the machine occurred frequently. The employees were not informed of the dangers of accessing the hopper while the power was on and HSE found was common practice to clear the machine by hand with the machine still running.

The investigation also found there was no suitable risk assessment in place which would have identified the necessary control measures needed, such as a fixed guard and a safe lock off.

Wrapp Recycling Ltd of Bradford Street, Bolton pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £13,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,951.90.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Catherine Lyon said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and implementing a safe system of work.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

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Fine for inadequate welfare facilities on site 09/08/2019

A Stockport construction company has been prosecuted after failing to ensure suitable welfare facilities were provided for workers on site.

Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard that R & S Builders (Mcr) Ltd had been issued with multiple Improvement Notices, following an inspection by a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector at the company’s site at Great Underbank, Stockport on 7 July 2018. The company subsequently complied with the Improvement Notices that had been served for fire safety and respiratory risks, but failed to comply with the minimum standards of health, safety and welfare on site.

An investigation by the HSE found that welfare facilities on site had been in a poor condition, in particular there being no hot or warm running water, and that the company did not provide evidence of compliance with the Improvement Notice within the deadline. R & S Builders (Mcr) Ltd was previously subject to enforcement action by HSE in 2017 that included an Improvement Notice in relation to the absence of adequate welfare provisions at a different site.

R & S Builders (Mcr) Ltd of Sovereign House, Stockport Road, Cheadle, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 21 of the Health and safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Regulation 13(4) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. The company was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,814.90.

HSE inspector Chris Brookes-Mann said after the hearing: “Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards. Furthermore, companies that fail to comply with an Improvement Notice in the time allowed can expect to be prosecuted since this is a criminal offence in its own right regardless of the circumstances under which the original Improvement Notice was served.”

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HSE releases annual workplace fatality figures 16/07/2019

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has released its annual figures for work-related fatal injuries for 2018/19 as well as the number of people known to have died from the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma, in 2017.

The provisional annual data for work-related fatal injuries revealed that 147 workers were fatally injured between April 2018 and March 2019 (a rate of 0.45 per 100,000 workers).

There has been a long-term reduction in the number of fatalities since 1981. Although 2018/19 saw an increase of 6 workplace fatalities from 2017/18, the number has remained broadly level in recent years.

Following the release, HSE chair Martin Temple said: “Today’s release of workplace fatality statistics is a reminder that despite the UK’s world leading position in health and safety, we cannot become complacent as we seek to fulfil our mission in preventing injury, ill health and death at work.”

The new figures show how fatal injuries are spread across the different industrial sectors:

  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing, and construction sectors continue to account for the largest share of fatal injuries to workers (32 and 30 deaths respectively in 2018/19).

The figures also indicate those sectors where the risk of fatal injury is greatest:

  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing and waste and recycling are the worst affected sectors, with a rate of fatal injury some 18 times and 17 times as high as the average across all industries respectively (annual average rates for 2014/15-2018/19).

Martin Temple added: “These statistics also remind us that, in certain sectors of the economy, workplace death remain worryingly high. Agriculture, forestry and fishing accounts for a small fraction of the workforce of Great Britain, yet accounted for over 20 per cent of worker fatalities in the last year. This is unacceptable and more must be done to prevent such fatalities taking place.

“Whatever the sector, we should remember that any change in numbers provides little comfort to the family, friends and colleagues of the 147 whose lives were cut short this year while doing their job.”

The three most common causes of fatal injuries continue to be; workers falling from height (40), being struck by a moving vehicle (30) and being struck by a moving object (16), accounting for nearly 60 per cent of fatal injuries in 2018/19.

The new figures continued to highlight the risks to older workers; 25 per cent of fatal injuries in 2018/19 were to workers aged 60 or over, even though such workers made up only around 10 per cent of the workforce.

In addition, there were also 92 members of the public fatally injured in incidents connected to work in 2018/2019, approximately a third of which took place on railways.

Mesothelioma, which is contracted through past exposure to asbestos and is one of the few work-related diseases where deaths can be counted directly, killed 2,523 in Great Britain in 2017- a broadly similar number to the previous five years. The current figures are largely a consequence of occupational asbestos exposures that occurred before 1980. Annual deaths are expected to remain broadly at current levels for the rest of the decade before beginning to reduce in number.

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Waste management company fined after worker injured 24/05/2019

A recycling and waste management company has been prosecuted after a worker’s hand was injured by defective hydraulic cutters.

Sefton Magistrates’ Court heard how on 8 October 2017, an employee of Viridor Waste Management Limited was working on a fridge dismantling line at the company’s St Helens site.

When the hydraulic cutters he was using stopped working properly he reported the defect, but the procedure to make the equipment safe was not then followed. The cutters were left close to where he was working, and when he moved them out of his way, the defective cutters amputated the top of the index finger of his right hand and partially severed another finger.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that although defects with the cutters were common, problems were not always reported and the procedure for lock-off and isolation was being inconsistently applied.

Viridor Waste Management Limited of Rydon Lane, Exeter, pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was today fined £133,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4204.85

HSE inspector Catherine Lyon said after the hearing: “The life changing injuries caused by this accident could have been avoided if the procedure for the safe lock-off and isolation of equipment had been followed.

“Employers should ensure their safety procedures remain effective by monitoring their use and checking that they are being fully implemented.”

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Window cleaning company fined after worker injured in fall from height 16/05/2019

A window cleaning company has been sentenced for safety breaches after a worker suffered bone fractures following a fall through a fragile roof light.

Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 24 February 2016, three operatives were cleaning a 400-panel solar array on the pig shed roof at Lingham Lane Piggery, Dishforth. The men had nearly finished the job when one of them walked up the roof towards the apex. He  was not aware of the fragile roof light and walked on to it. The roof light broke, and he fell more than seven metres to the floor of the barn.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company failed to ensure that the risks from working at height had been minimised.

Premier Window Cleaners Ltd Greenacres, Huntington, York pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The company has been fined £6000 and ordered to pay £819 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Rachel Brittain commented: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.

“If the work had been carried out from an elevated work platform with harnesses and lanyards, falls from height would have been mitigated.”

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Recycling company sentenced after worker injured on site 07/05/2019

A recycling company has been fined after a worker suffered from a back injury after manually moving gantry steps.

Preston Crown Court heard how on, 10 September 2016, an employee of Suez Recycling and Recovery Limited helped to manually move steps weighting in excess of 950kg at a site in Duckworth Clough, Haslingden, after repair works had taken place. As a result of this work, the employee sustained a back injury.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found manually moving and realigning steps was a regular occurrence and that employees would use a scaffold pole under the steps to move them back into position. Senior staff knew how the steps were moved and that employees had concerns, as it had been reported, yet no suitable assessment had been carried out, or safe system of work implemented, to avoid hazardous handling. No equipment or handling aids had been considered to help employees manoeuvre the gantry steps.

Suez Recycling and Recovery Limited of Grenfell Road, Maidenhead, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety and Work Act 1974 and has been fined £144,000 and ordered to pay costs of £32,000.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Sharon Butler said: “Incorrect manual handling is one of the most common causes of injury at work. Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary equipment, information, instruction and training to their workers. If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented.”

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Waste and recycling company fined £1m following death of worker 31/01/2019

A refuse collection company has been fined £1m after a worker was run over and killed.

Canterbury Crown Court heard how, on 18 October 2013, Veolia ES (UK) Limited’s employee Mr John Head suffered fatal injuries when he was run over by a reversing refuse collection vehicle (RCV) whilst he was walking across the yard, at the Ross Depot Waste Transfer Station in Folkestone. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident found that multiple vehicles, including RCVs and articulated lorries, were manoeuvring around the yard with no specific controls.

The company failed to adequately assess the risks involved in the yard and did not implement industry recognised control measures to protect employees.

Veolia ES (UK) Limited of Pentonville Road, London was found guilty on 24th January 2019 after a trial of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company has been fined £1 million and ordered to pay costs of £130,000.

HSE inspector Kevin Golding said: “This should be a reminder to all industries, but in particular, the waste industry, to appropriately assess the risks and implement widely recognised control measures to adequately control manoeuvring vehicles, in particular reversing vehicles and restrict pedestrian movements around vehicles.”

Further guidance can be found at Vehicles at work

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Local authority sentenced after member of public contracts Legionnaires’ Disease 18/12/2018

Tendring District Council has been fined after a member of public contracted Legionnaires’ Disease having been a regular user of its leisure centre facilities.

Colchester Magistrates’ Court heard how the member of public frequently used the showers at Walton Lifestyles when, in November 2016, he fell seriously ill and was taken to hospital where he remained for 18 days. He was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, sepsis, pneumonia and chronic kidney failure.

Water samples taken from the men’s shower tested positive for the legionella bacteria. Legionella bacteria can proliferate in hot and cold water systems that aren’t properly maintained or cleaned.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Tendring District Council had failed to adequately manage the water systems at a number of leisure centres in the district, including Walton Lifestyles, Dovercourt Lifestyles and Clacton Leisure Centre. The significant failings included not having suitable and sufficient Legionella Risk Assessments for the leisure facilities and not providing adequate control measures required for Legionella control. Staff were not adequately trained and a lack of monitoring meant these failings went unnoticed for several months.

Tendring District Council of Town Hall, Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and has been fined £ 27,000  and ordered to pay costs of £ 7,500.

Speaking after the case, HSE inspector Tania van Rixtel said: “Hot and cold water systems can provide the ideal breeding ground for the potentially fatal legionella bacteria if certain control measures are not in place. Controls such as maintaining water temperatures, regular flushing of low-use outlets and adequate cleaning are all necessary in order to reduce the risk of legionella developing.

“Tendring District Council failed to ensure controls such as these were being implemented therefore causing a potential risk to human health. This could have easily been a fatality and given the number of people who use the facilities, the potential legionella risk to the public would have been significant.”

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Director of waste & recycling company jailed 05/11/2018

A Liverpool-based waste and recycling company has been fined and its director has been jailed after the death of a 39-year-old worker.

Gaskell’s (North West) Limited and Jonathan Gaskell were sentenced both for their part in the death in 2010 of Polish national Zbigniew Galka, and for continuing to operate the same baling machine in a dangerous manner for up to five years after Mr Galka’s death.

Liverpool Crown Court heard how Zbigniew Galka died while working at Gaskells Waste Services in Foster Street, Bootle on 23 December 2010. 

The company was operating a machine used to compress recyclable and waste materials into small bales which had a defeated interlock system enabling a worker to enter the machine while it was still in operation. 

Mr Galka had entered the baling chamber of the machine to clear a blockage of waste materials that had caused the machine to stop. The machine automatically activated, and Mr Galka suffered haemorrhaging, shock and severe traumatic injury to both legs, and died on his way to hospital.  

A joint investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Merseyside Police found that the baler’s safety interlock system had been defeated two months earlier. Poor maintenance of the machine meant it required frequent operator intervention.

HSE inspectors then visited the site on 16 July 2015 having been informed that the company was continuing to use the same machine with further critical safety systems on the baler being defeated, five years after Mr Galka’s death. The machine could be operated whilst the guarding was open, meaning it could still run and production could continue with the operator being put at serious risk of injury. This was noted as a serious aggravating factor by the Judge upon sentencing. 

Gaskell’s (North West) Limited of Foster Street, Liverpool pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company has been fined £700,000 and ordered to pay costs of £99,886.57.

Jonathan Gaskell of Peckforton Hall Lane, Tarporley, Cheshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. He was sentenced to eight months in prison. 

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Phil Redman said: “Firstly, our thoughts as ever, are with the family and friends of Zbigniew Galka. A great deal of time has passed since his tragic passing and we would like to publicly thank Zbigniew’s family for their patience throughout this complex investigation. 

“This incident was completely avoidable and it is inconceivable that Gaskells continued to operate the same dangerous machine in the way it did for as long as five years after this incident.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not accept the defeating of safety systems in order to maintain production and will not hesitate to take action against those that fall below the required standards.”

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