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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Lancashire based flooring company admits health and safety breaches

Company fined £3,300 for health and safety offences, after one of their employees fell through a hole in the floor

A Lancashire based flooring company, has pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety measures, after one of their employees fell through a hole in the floor of a building they were working on, at Fort Kinnaird Retail Park, in Edinburgh.

The specialist flooring contractor, who operates throughout the UK, pleaded guilty to a violation of Regulation 4, of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and to Section 33(1)(c), of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and were fined £3,300.

Lancashire based flooring company fined for breaching health and safety after worker injured

Technic Concrete Floors Ltd admit health and safety failings

The incident occurred on May 16, 2014. Court heard that Steven Stewart, who was a self-employed contractor with Technic Concrete Floors Limited, was walking along the floor of the building, which was under construction, when he caught his boot and tripped up. His foot knocked loose an unsecured panel of wood that was covering up a hole in the floor and Mr Stewart fell around 4.5 metres, landing on steel mesh grids that were on the ground beneath.

Mr Stewart sustained serious back injuries and also broke a foot.

The Health and Safety Executive investigated the incident and concurred that if a thorough risk assessment had been planned and undertaken by the company, before the work started, the badly covered up holes would have been found and made safe.

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£500k fine for Bulgarian construction firm over health and safety breaches

Fined after breaching the ‘Work at Height’ Health and Safety Regulation 2005, whilst working on the Closer to the Edge attraction

A construction firm from Bulgaria, has been fined £500,000 after pleading guilty to breaching health and safety regulations, whilst working on the ‘Closer to the Edge’ high rope attraction at Markeaton Park, in Derby.

A member of the public noticed that work from a height was being carried out on a pallet, sat on the forks of a telehandler, whilst the company, Walltopia, worked on the new attraction in 2015, Derby Magistrates’ Court was told.

The member of the public contacted Walltopia about their concerns but despite the company assuring the individual, they carried on working from unsafe heights.

Company fined over 'work at height' health and safety breaches

View of the entrance to Markeaton Park, Derby

The individual decided to report the dangers to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). They discovered that work was being carried out on a section of roof that was eleven metres off the ground and no proper safety measures were in place to stop the two workers from falling off the open edges.

The also found that the workers were getting on to the roof by climbing out of a cherry picker basket.

The company, which is based in Letnitsa, Bulgaria, pleaded guilty to breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and were fined £500,000 and made to pay £8,013.25 in costs.

After the case, Lee Greatorex, an HSE Inspector said: “Using a pallet on a telehandler for planned work at height is an unacceptable means of access. It appears that the company failed to put in place control measures after being alerted about this.”

He added that when working at height, safety measures should always be carefully planned and put into place, to protect workers from the dangers and extreme risk of falling.

Mr Greatorex said: “In this case, someone could have suffered significant injuries, or death.”

Walltopia have worked around the world, on at least 1,500 projects and in total have built about 2.9m square feet of climbing areas.

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£130,000 fine for Network Rail amid health and safety failings

The company has been fined for health and safety breaches after a worker was hit by a 25,000 volt

The company, Network Rail, have been fined £130,000 for health and safety failings after one of their workers was hit by a 25,000 volt power surge whilst repairing an overhead line, close to Ardrossan South Beach Station.

The Network Rail worker, David McDermott, suffered “catastrophic injuries” in the incident, which occurred back in 2009.

The company admitted that they had failed to provide safe working documentation and did not make sure that work was only carried out on isolated areas of the line.

The crews that were carrying out the repairs in North Ayrshire, had been given a ‘hopelessly inaccurate’ work diagram by Network Rail, the court heard.

Network Rail fined for health and safety failings

A Network Rail safety poster

Since the incident, the company have improved their working systems, Kilmarnock Sheriff Court was told.

When the incident occurred back in 2009, Mr McDermott was working with a colleague in a mobile platform. He was fixing an isolated area of cable when he touched a live wire. Mr McDermott was hit by a 25,000 volt power surge.

Mr McDermott was severely injured as a result of the incident, causing serious loss of function and years of surgery, the court heard.

Mr McDermott’s injuries were described as ‘catastrophic’ by Sheriff Alistair Watson, who went on to say that no penalty would cover the price, or value of the suffering and pain that Mr McDermott still experienced.

“The obvious failure in the system, which is perhaps self-evident, is the fact that the schematic or diagram used as an essential guide for those involved in the repair operation was hopelessly inaccurate for a considerable length of time, despite it potentially being an issue of life and death importance, ” said Sheriff Alistair Watson.

The Sheriff also added that the diagram guide appeared to have been in constant use by those workers who trusted that their employer would keep them safe.

Putting it bluntly, this meant that a serious incident of this nature, whilst maybe not inevitable, was sooner or later, very likely.

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Scottish Power to appeal £1.75m health and safety fine

Penalty was given after a worker was scalded at Longannet Power Station in 2013

The energy firm, Scottish Power Generation Limited, is set to appeal its £1.75m health and safety fine, which they received after one of their workers was scalded in 2013 in an incident at their Longannet Power Station in Fife.

The penalty was handed out to Scottish Power earlier this year, after the company admitted to severe health and safety failures at the plant.

On 12 October 2013, controller David Roscoe was engulfed by steam that had escaped from a broken pipeline valve, at the coal-fired power plant in Fife. He was badly scalded by the steam and suffered severe injuries, which mainly affected his lower body.

Scottish Power to challenge health and safety prosecution

Longannet Power station in Fife

Mr Roscoe, a long-serving employee for the company, was fifty-one at the time of the incident and was unable to return to work after having to undergo major skin graft surgery.

Dunfermline Sheriff Court was told that Scottish Power had been made aware of the faulty valve over four years before the incident took place, but no efforts were made to repair it.

The company’s health and safety procedures were criticised by Sheriff Charles MacNair, who initially fined Scottish Power £2.5m but reduced the amount to £1.75m because they pleaded guilty early on in the case.

Scottish Power have now lodged an appeal challenging the £1.75m fine, with the Court of Criminal Appeal, in Edinburgh.

A contractor spotted steam escaping from the faulty valve only fifteen days before Mr Roscoe was injured. The contractor filled out a work order card requesting that a repair be carried out on the faulty valve within the month.

On the day of the accident, Mr Roscoe saw steam coming out of the broken valve but when he tried to stop it by turning the valve a little, he was badly scalded by the steam.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident at the power plant in Fife, which has since been closed, discovered that the company knew about the faulty valve but did not take the appropriate steps to either repair the valve or replace it.

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Is Pokémon Go a health and safety issue?

A number of organisations say Pokémon Go is a serious health and safety risk 

Pokémon Go is a game app that has become a global phenomenon, with millions of new users downloading the game in the last week, but it has been surrounded by controversy as health and safety fears grow.

In a nutshell, Pokémon Go is a free location-based reality game that allows the user to wander the streets and use their smartphone to ‘catch’ Pokémon cartoon monsters.

The game, however, has brought up a few health and safety concerns after a number of stories have come to light.

In Bosnia, there are still 120,000 undiscovered mines left over after the Bosnian War, according to a demining group and they have sent out a warning to users of the game to avoid wandering into dangerous areas.

In Manchester, three students were playing the game on their phones and had them stolen at knifepoint. Greater Manchester Police have issued a warning to users of the app about the dangers and urged the public to pay attention when it comes to their surroundings.

“We know that criminals move quickly to exploit the latest developments to target victims and Pokémon Go will already be in their sights.” Said Detective Superintendent Joanne Rawlinson.

Pokémon characters can literally appear anywhere, in restaurants, in the park and have even been known to trespass on the railway.

The British Transport Police received a report of two children seen playing the game whilst on the railway lines in Bristol.

This represents a huge health and safety risk for both children and adults, who may end up on the railway lines whilst fixated on their phone playing the game.

NSPCC have released a guide for parents of children using the app, to help keep them safe.

Some of the key points include, encouraging them to play the game with an adult, or to stay with a group of friends, don’t trespass onto the railways, look where you are going and don’t be lured into going somewhere that isn’t safe for a child to be.

Players of the game have also been advised to stand still whilst trying to catch Pokémon, so that they don’t trip over and users have been asked not to play the game whilst driving.

In what seems to be the first death whilst someone was playing the game, a young man, aged 18, from Chiquimula, which is around 120 miles from Guatemala City, was ambushed and shot whilst playing the game with his 17-year-old cousin.

The police investigating the crime are unsure why they were targeted but think that the attackers could have found the two young men by using the Pokémon app, as the game includes location features that make it possible to encourage a player to head for a certain area, or locate other players.

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Beach sand warning issued amid health and safety fears

Emergency services warn children amid health and safety fears

Emergency services are warning children of the dangers of digging holes in the sand, amid health and safety fears.

Children are being urged not to carry on with the popular seaside past-time, as emergency services are fearful that a child/children, could fall into the hole, get trapped in it, or potentially suffocate under a pile of sand if the hole caves in.

Children warned not to dig too deeply in sand after health and safety concerns

Children warned not to dig too deeply in sand after health and safety concerns

People have been advised to dig only shallow holes and not to build tunnels under the sand, something that can lead to “very serious consequences.”

A coastguard in Somerset has held a training day this week, which was attended by beach rangers, police and paramedics. The purpose of the training day was to practise for when a person or persons, get trapped in the sand.

The training day took place on Weston-Super-Mare beach and during the drill, the group practised using a dummy, which they had to free from a big hole in the sand.

Jon Kendray, Coastguard Operations Officer said: “Digging holes in the sand can have very serious consequences. Children should be supervised by an adult at all times and any shallow holes should be filled in afterwards.”

During April 2015, in North Somerset, a huge rescue operation took place, to help save fifteen treasure hunters who had got stuck in the mud as the tide was coming in. Two helicopters, a lifeboat, coastguard teams and a fire service hovercraft were involved in the rescue.

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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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Local residents stopped from volunteering to cut grass

Health and safety checks put a stop to willing volunteers cutting neglected areas of long grass

A group of volunteers in Blackpool who have been cutting neglected grassy areas in the community, have been angered by council chiefs who have put a stop to their help because of health and safety concerns.

Volunteers will now only be able to cut the grass after expensive, drawn out checks have been made.

Residents in Blackpool took it upon themselves to cut the grass after noticing roadside verges, children’s play areas and community areas in the town were over-run with 4ft tall grass, nettles and weeds.

These areas had been left to grow because the council decided to concentrate only on keeping pitches and parks tidy to help cut costs.

Blackpool council has stopped volunteers cutting grassy areas over health and safety fears

Blackpool council has stopped volunteers cutting grassy areas over health and safety fears

Local residents got out their strimmer’s and lawnmowers in a joint effort to tidy up the areas but have been told to keep off council land, which is run by Labour, until a ‘risk assessment’ has been completed.

Blackpool residents could not believe the ridiculousness of the decision and feel that the true risk could be if a child falls on some broken glass, or other rubbish, that might be hidden in the long grass. They were also worried about those who suffer from asthma and hay fever.

“This ludicrous decision will allow the verges to grow sky high.” Said Linda Spencer.

The leader of the council’s Conservative group, Tony Williams, said: “The residents have rolled up their sleeves to do the job and all the council can do is moan about health and safety.”

He also went on to say that the whole health and safety concerns mean that residents will end up having to fill in forms and have their garden equipment looked at by members of the council. He added that it is bureaucracy gone mad and that the council would have been better to employ people to do the job.

Graham Cain, the council cabinet secretary, said: “Using sharp mechanical equipment like lawnmowers and strimmer’s in your private property is very different to using them on public land.”

“If, heaven forbid, there was an accident there would be some very serious health and safety issues for all those concerned.”

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Library cat avoids street living after health and safety fears

Texas officials have revoked its decision to evict a library cat which was to be cast out over health and safety fears

A rescue cat who resides at a state library in Texas has been saved from homelessness following an outcry from locals and the wider public who kicked up a huge fuss to save the poor feline when his livelihood was threatened by health and safety concerns.

The aptly named cat, Browser, was adopted six years ago by staff at White Settlement Library, in Texas, and he has since become a member of the library team, loved by employees and visitors alike.

He was rescued from an animal shelter six years ago and moved into the library to help with a rodent problem. Throughout this time, the library has become Browser’s home and he has become a top attraction for library goers.

However, according to reports from the Associated Press, Browser’s future was cast into uncertainty following a complaint by a man who was refused entry into a city hall because he was accompanied by his puppy. The man made a formal complaint and used Browser’s presence in the city library as an argument.

For this reason, city council officials met to discuss the health and safety issues involved in allowing a cat to live in a public building. It was decided that Browser posed a risk to those who suffer from cat dander allergies. A vote of 2-1 against Browser seemingly sealed his doom.

However, news of the poor cat’s eviction reached sympathetic ears and a petition was set up to keep Browser firmly in his bookish place. City council officials reacted to the public outcry and revoked their decision to boot Browser out.

The Dallas Morning News commented on Browser’s library duties: “Like most felines, Browser spends a good deal of time napping, lounging and sneaking out the door — but he also attends the library’s GED classes and has an honorary diploma, the library says. And each year, the library sells a calendar full of pictures of Browser as a fundraiser.”

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