Fine for Muller UK over health and safety failings

Health and safety breaches led to worker’s roof fall and a £400k fine for the company

The dairy manufacturing company Muller UK and Ireland Group LLP, have been fined £400,000 at Manchester Crown Court over health and safety failings, after a worker fell 15ft through a fragile roof panel.

An investigation into the fall was carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The worker was left with serious injuries to his head and body as a result.

The incident occurred on July 8 last year, as the worker, along with two of his colleagues, worked on a routine job changing the refrigeration gas on some chilled storage units at the company’s premises on Lake Road, at Trafford Park.

The men were working in the void of the roof in the chilled store building over the top of the chilled units. One worker stepped onto a fragile panel on the edge of the roof space and fell through the void inbetween the chilled unit and the shell of the building. The worker was left with serious injuries as a result of the incident.

The HSE investigation found that no information had been given to the workers about the fragile panels in the roof, even though they had worked in that area on numerous occasions. The company never carried out a proper risk assessment before the workers entered the area and no adequate health and safety signs, or barriers were placed around the fragile panels.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. They were fined £400,000 and made to pay costs of £9,336.90.

Jane Carroll, a HSE Inspector said afterwards: “This case highlights how important it is that a suitable and sufficient risk assessment is undertaken for all work at height and work within roof voids, to identify the potential for fragile panels to be present.”

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Health and Safety investigation following tunnel flood at Boulby potash mine

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) were informed about the incident which took place last week and are now investigating


A tunnel flood at the Boulby’s potash mine has led to a health and safety investigation.

The incident happened last Wednesday, December 21, during the early hours in the mine’s ‘tailings tunnel’.

ICL UK who run the company, have stated that no one was injured as a result of the flood.

According to a spokeswoman for the Health and Safety Executive Mines Inspectorate, the HSE have been told about the incident and are now investiagting.

The East Cleveland mine is run by ICL UK Cleveland Potash, who confirmed in a statement that the incident occurred in the early hours whilst routine maintenance work was in progress. An ingress of water was reported to have flooded into the tailings tunnel, which is responsible for carrying water into it and and sewage out of the mine.

Underground pumping from the mine is still in operation and monitoring is being carried out.

Mining work is in progress as normal and the Mines Inspectorate knows of the incident and will also carry out an investigation.

The mine has been the embroiled in a number of health and safety failings this year, one of which resulted in the death of a miner as a result of a gas blow-out.

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According to Health and Safety Executives, 1.3 million workers suffer from work-related illness

Health and safety Executives (HSE) release annual illness and injury statistics

The annual statistics for illness and injury have been released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for 2015/16. The report uses information from a number of sources, including RIDDOR reporting, the Labour Force Survey, HSE cost model & enforcement data, as well as death certificates to gather important facts regarding injuries and illness in the workplace.

Figures for occupational ill health for 2015/16 consists of 1.3 million workers suffering from work-related illness (up 18% since 2011), 0.5 million suffering from work-related musculoskeletal disorders, 0.5 million suffering from work-related stress, anxiety or depression and 2,515 deaths as a result of mesothelioma, which is a cancer associated with exposure to asbestos.

HSE release 2015/16 annual illness and injury statistics

Scaffolding on Pepperpot Tower © Copyright Philip Halling and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

An alarming 30.4 million work days were lost as a result of work-related illnesses and non-fatal workplace injuries in 2015/16.

In 2014/15, if you exclude long term illnesses such as cancer, the estimated cost for businesses concerning injuries and ill-health, was around £14.1 billion and for new work-related illness cases, the monetary cost was £9.3 billion during the same period.

Figures for non-fatal and fatal injuries for 2015/16 are; 0.6 million non-fatal injuries to workers, 72,202 non-fatal injuries to workers that were reported by their employers and 144 fatal injuries to workers.

The bulk of fatal injuries were a result of workers falling from heights, followed secondly by employers being hit by a moving vehicle.

Although the number of workers killed at work is still far too high at 144 for 2015/16, the number of deaths at work has fallen by 85% since 1974.

In 2014/15, the yearly costs of injury in the workplace was £4.8 billion.

Since 2013/14, workplace injuries are down by 1.3%. Construction injuries are 0.9% down on 2014/15, so too are manufacturing injuries, 6.8% down compared to last years figures.

Deaths from mesothelioma continue to stay around the 2,000 mark and these figures are projected to remain the same up until the end of this decade, before we start to see a decline in the number of deaths.

Compared to figures from other EU countries, such as France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain, the UK does have the lowest number of fatal injuries but we only appear second in comparison when it comes to the percentage of health issues and self-reported work related injuries that turn into sick leave.

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Farms fatalities fall but health & safety still needs addressing

More people are killed or injured on farms across the UK and Ireland than any other industry

Vicky Whipps sat waiting for her husband Craig, aged 27, to come home from work on July 15, 2011 but he never arrived. A normal working day on the farm in Stapleford, Essex, turned into a day of tragedy.

On that day, farmer Craig was working with slurry and was overcome by hydrogen sulphide gas. A work colleague rushed to save him but sadly lost his life also.

Farming deaths have fallen in the last year but health and safety still needs to improve

Farming fatalities have fallen but a stigma still exists

Tragically, this heart-breaking tale has been heard far too often across the country and has left the farming industry with a reputation as being one of the most dangerous industries in the UK.

Latest figures released by the Health and Safety Executive, revealed that 215 people, over the last five years, have lost their lives on farms and that 29 of those have been killed in 2015/16.

Experts within the farming industry have said that a mixture of tiredness, old equipment, pressure from suppliers and unfamiliarity with new machinery, all play their role in enabling these farming tragedies to happen.

Mrs Whipps says that some farmers were complacent when it comes to health and safety and that the statistics should be seen as a warning to farmers.

“In most other industries, risk assessments are a necessity and I think farming has to rise up to this level.” Said Mrs Whipps.

She added: “People say there is a lot of red tape in the industry, but it is there for a reason – because of these incidents.”

A survey by the Farm Safety Foundation discovered that even though 96% of farmers, under the age of forty, felt as though they were well informed on health and safety issues, 57% of them admitted to taking risks.

Also, nearly 50% of farmers, under the age of forty, admitted that how they worked on the farm was determined by how their parents had worked it and 85% said that when growing up on a farm, most jobs end up becoming ‘a habit’.

Mrs Whipps said that everybody has a responsibility to their employees and themselves to adhere to health and safety.

On-site training and education will be key to improving upon the industries dreadful health and safety record, says Mrs Whipps. She also believes that compulsory risk assessments might help to improve things.

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Theme park health and safety since the Alton Towers breach

HSE inspector says health and safety at amusement parks is “actually pretty good”

Health and safety procedures at theme parks have been firmly in the limelight since last year’s appalling accident when five thrill-seekers were seriously injured on Alton Tower’s most recent rollercoaster investment, The Smiler, which cost £18m to build.

Since the high-profile accident in June 2015, even minor incidents at theme parks have made it into the news, as people across the globe began to doubt the health and safety practices at amusement parks and to question how a world leader in rollercoaster technology could allow such an incident to happen.

Health and Safety inspector says theme park record is "pretty good"

The ‘Smiler’ ride at Alton Towers

Merlin Attractions, owner of the Alton Towers attraction park, confirmed a 25% drop in the number of visitors at the park throughout the remainder of 2015, resulting in a 12.4% revenue loss.

However, according to Melvin Sandell, an inspector at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the health and safety record at nationwide amusement parks is “actually pretty good”, with only 35 incidents reported each year which require hospital attention.

The HSE is now collaborating with the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions and the Health and Safety Laboratory to ensure the security management systems of member amusement parks are capable of preventing the ‘catastrophic accidents’ that can occur on the ‘big machines’ at major UK theme parks.

Theme park management must ensure the correct training of employees, as the HSE investigation into the Alton Towers’ accident revealed it was “human error” and a “manual override” which caused the incident.

Mr Sandell said that new rollercoaster technologies, including wi-fi connected systems and an “individualised” system for components, are the way forward for improving safety at theme parks.

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UK Health and Safety Week – What it is and how to keep staff safe

Health and Safety Week is being held between 20-24 June, 2016

The Health and Safety at Work Act was first introduced in the UK in 1974 and thanks to it, we have one of the best health and safety records in the world.

Health & Safety Week was launched forty years later in 2014, in a bid to encourage employers and employees across the UK to embrace health and safety issues within the workplace, by taking part in a number of activities and initiatives during the year.

Health and Safety Week to be held in June

Health and Safety Week logo

More than 1.2 million people in 2014-15 suffered from a work related illness, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and there were 76,054 non-fatal injuries reported during the same time period.

23 million working days each year are lost because of injuries and illnesses caused by unsafe conditions in today’s workplaces.

Business owners have a duty of care towards all members of staff and should ensure that they adhere to adequate health and safety procedures, to make sure that staff members are kept safe whilst at work.

Providing a safe working environment for employees can help reduce the risk of incidents happening within the workplace and should be top priority for all business owners.

The first step in developing an efficient safety plan is to carry out a risk assessment within the workplace and to write down all potential dangers and hazards that could possibly affect the health and safety of staff members.

Risk assessments should be carried out regularly, ensuring that health and safety procedures within the company are always up-to-date.

After the assessment has been done, specific measures can then be put in place to help reduce the risk of an incident occurring within the workplace.

Companies are also urged to look at past assessments to see where positive changes could be made.

Employees are also expected to play their part and should tell employers if they notice anything that could be a danger to workers and should always follow all health and safety instructions.

All employees should be fully trained in their role, for example, if they work with a specific piece of equipment, they must be trained to use it correctly and safely and know what to do in case of an incident.

If carrying our hazardous or dangerous duties, all employees must be supplied with the correct protective equipment, such as gloves, eye protection wear, safety helmets or high-vis clothing.

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Modern health and safety laws would prevent old TV stunts

Michael Crawford says many stunts would not be allowed due to modern health and safety rules

Actor Michael Crawford has said that modern health and safety regulations in the UK would prevent the re-creation of many of the stunts he filmed in the iconic ’70s show, Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Em.

Speaking to Radio Times, the actor said many of the stunts he acted out for his role as Frank Spencer would create legislation difficulty for producers in this decade, as health and safety regulations in Britain have become much stricter in the years since the last episode of Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Em was filmed.

Michael Crawford is set to reprise his role as Frank Spencer for Sport Relief in a new one-off special of the much-loved ’70s comedy show. The 74-year-old actor told Radio Times that the classic scene where he’s in a car hanging over the edge of a cliff with his onscreen wife, Betty (played by Michele Dotrice), would probably be prohibited today.

Michael also doubts that modern health and safety officers would allow the filming of the famous pier scene. However, he promised Sport Relief viewers something slightly less dangerous but equally comical to look forward to.

Michael Crawford told Radio Times: “Of course these days it’s all much more difficult with health and safety rules. We didn’t have those 42 years ago.”

The actor told the publication how he’d turned down a number of remake proposals since Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Em ended in 1978, and confirmed that the new one-off special, also featuring Michele Dotrice, is just that.

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Health and Safety Executive to prosecute Alton Towers’ owners

Merlin Attractions Operation Ltd will be prosecuted by the HSE following Alton Towers accident

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced that it will be taking legal action against the owners of the Alton Towers theme park following the horrific accident which occurred at the Staffordshire site in summer last year.

The HSE announced its decision on February 25 after it had informed Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd of its intention to prosecute the company for breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act etc, 1974, which states:

“It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”

The accident which left five people seriously injured took place on June 2, 2015, when a carriage full of theme park visitors crashed into a stationary carriage on the ‘Smiler’ rollercoaster ride. Two young women who were sat on the front row of the carriage had to have their legs amputated as a result of the crash.

Health and Safety Executive to prosecute Alton Towers' owners

The ‘Smiler’ ride at Alton Towers

Merlin Attractions Operation Ltd, which also owns Thorpe Park, the London Eye and Madame Tussauds, will appear at North Staffordshire Justice Centre in Newcastle-under-Lyme on April 22, 2016.

Following the accident in summer last year, Alton Towers was closed for four days and bosses confirmed a significant decrease in the number of visitors to the theme park when it reopened. Despite this, the group still managed to make a pre-tax profit of 0.3% in 2015.

Neil Craig, head of operations for the Midlands HSE, said: “This was a serious incident with life-changing consequences for five people. We have conducted a very thorough investigation and consider that there is sufficient evidence and that it is in the public interest to bring a prosecution.”

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Cornish farming company prosecuted for employee fatality

Farming company fined £125,000 for breaching health and safety regulations

A father and son farming company based in Cornwall has been fined £125,000 after being prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as a result of the fatal electrocution of one of the farm workers while he was out harvesting in the fields.

The 24-year-old farm worker was working on a potato field on July 3, 2011 at Higher Kergilliack Farm, near Falmouth, when he was struck by a overhead power line, which had been caught by a conveyor connected to the potato harvester on which the Polish man had been working.

Konrad Miskiewicz died as a result of being struck by the 6,300-voltage power line. Truro Crown Court heard how it could not be determined for definite whether Mr Miskiewicz died as a result of the first contact with the power line or by the re-surging power which is emitted to test if the line is actually broken.

The farm owner, Pengelly Farms Limited, pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations as set out by the Health and Safety at Work Act. Truro Crown Court was told that the managers had now implemented a number of health and safety improvements, including staff training, and had invested in new equipment which make the farming operations safer.

Pengelly Farms Limited was ordered to pay a £75,000 fine and prosecution costs of £50,000. Judge Simon Carr criticised HSE for taking so long to decide to prosecute the farm, and told the court: “This is not a company that ignored its responsibilities in respect of health and safety … this is a company who long before the prosecution began had learned from this event and I would like to think would never fall foul of it again.”

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HSE to prosecute Star Wars production company

Star Wars to be prosecuted due to Harrison Ford injury

A production company involved in the making of the most recent Star Wars film is to be prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive for the injury that was sustained by Harrison Ford during filming.

The accident happened at Pinewood Studios in London, where Ford sustained an injury from a faulty hydraulic metal door, which resulted in him being air-lifted to hospital in an helicopter. He was out of action for two months with serious injuries, with director JJ Abrams forced to halt filming.

The 73-year-old American actor reprised his role as Hans Solo for The Force Awakens, the latest in the Star Wars franchise, and apparently received a handsome $34m salary for his efforts.

The Health and Safety Executive has announced it will be prosecuting Foodles Production (UK) Ltd for breaching health and safety regulations. The company, which is based in Hammersmith, London, was the main production company behind the The Force Awakens, according to BBC.

A spokesperson for HSE said: “By law, employers must take reasonable steps to protect workers – this is as true on a film set as a factory floor.”

The new Star Wars film was released in cinemas worldwide in December and became the highest-grossing film of 2015, making more than $2bn at box office. The sequel, Episode VIII, is already in production and finds Ford again reprising his famous role. There are no reports to suggest that the actor is suing the production company himself.

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