Health and safety failings lead to prison term for manager

Manager of UK-based company found guilty of health and safety breaches after death of a worker

A two year jail term has been handed out to the manager of a UK-based access rental company over health and safety breaches, which led to the death of one worker and left another man with serious injuries.

Donald Craig, aged 57, was found guilty of breaching health and safety legislation’s at Airdrie Sheriff Court, Scotland, following a 16 day trial and given the maximum penalty.

The incident in question happened on June 20, 2012. Safety net rigger, Gary Currie and Alexander Nisbet, who was contracted by Craig Services & Access as a self-employed operator, were in the basket of the platform taking netting off the facade on the Buchanan House office block, on Port Dundas Road in the city centre of Glasgow. The third main boom section gave way and caused the basket to fall 92 ft to the ground.

Health and safety failings lead to prison term for manager

Manager of a UK-based company found guilty of health and safety breaches after the death of a worker
© Copyright Steve Fareham and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Mr Nisbet was left seriously injured and Mr Currie suffered fatal injuries as a result of the fall.

The company, which is based in Hamilton, was also found guilty on three other charges which related to the collapsing of a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) and for maintenance and useage failings. The firm was fined £61,000.

A £30,000 fine was also handed out to another company, J M Access Solutions, for failing to examine the platform and the critical parts of the system.

An incident involving the same platform occurred back in 2011. Craig Services & Access instructed repairs be made to the platform after the incident to fix a damaged section on the main boom.

Incorrect repairs were made and J M Access Solutions failed to carry out a proper examination of the platform.

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Employment Tribunal win and compensation set for sacked Gran

 

60-year-old Gran sacked by bosses because she had breast cancer set for employment tribunal win

A 60-year-old Gran is set for a £100,000 compensation payout after taking her old bosses to an employment tribunal after she was sacked from her job after 21 years because she had cancer.

Valerie Axon, who has worked for Coral Racing for the past twenty-one years, was sacked by her bosses after informing them she had breast cancer and that she would need some time off for treatment.

Mrs Axon carried on in her role but later on discovered another lump and informed the retail operations manager, Carol Chown-Smith.

60-year-old Gran sacked by Coral bosses after 21 years because she had breast cancer

Mrs Axon worked for Coral for 21 years before being sacked for having cancer © Copyright Paul Gillett and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The company then wrongly accused Mrs Axon of drinking whilst at work and was suspended from her retail manager role at Romford Greyhound Stadium, east London, which earned her £35,000 per year.

In November 2015, two months after she was suspended, the grandmother-of-five was sacked.

At the employment tribunal, it was heard that Mrs Axon was actually drinking cordial when she had finished her shift. The company was found guilty of disability discrimination and unfair dismissal.

Mrs Axon, of Romford, said whilst giving evidence at the tribunal: “I felt that the real reason for my dismissal was because I had breast cancer, which involved me taking sick leave of around six and a half months.”

Two Coral chiefs and Ms Chown-Smith denied the fact that cancer had played a part in Mrs Axon’s dismissal.

Judge John Goodrich ruled that Mrs Axon was not consuming alcohol whilst at work and that Ms Chown-Smith’s main motivation for Mrs Axon’s sacking was down to the fact that her cancer had returned and would need more time off work.

“My family and I have been devastated emotionally and financially by my dismissal and it was an ordeal going to the employment tribunal,” said Mrs Axon.

Valerie added how delighted she was to have received justice and hoped that her case would be an inspiration to other employees faced with the same discrimination in the workplace.

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Employment tribunal win for Thomas Cook pilot

Pilot takes employers to employment tribunal after dismissal threat for refusing to fly whilst fatigued

A Thomas Cook airline captain who took his employers to an employment tribunal, has won his case and accepted an apology from the company.

Captain Mike Simkins, who’s from the UK, was suspended for six months by Thomas Cook Airlines and threatened with dismissal for refusing to fly the Boeing 767 due to fatigue.

Mr Simkins took the company to an employment tribunal after being threatened with dismissal and won his case.

Pilot takes employers to employment tribunal after dismissal threat for refusing to fly whilst fatigued

Employment tribunal win for Thomas Cook pilot © Copyright Mike Kirby and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

 

Mr Simkins is a member of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA), who said that Mr Simkins refused to fly “after three extremely early starts in a row, including one 18-hour day, and what would have been a 19-hour day to follow.”

BALPA said that Thomas Cook’s fatigue monitoring system revealed that due to the number of duties Mr Simkins had already carried out, if he had taken the flight he refused, he would have landed and his performance loss would have been estimated to being something similiar to that of a person four times over the legal alcohol flying limit.

Head of flight safety for BALPA, Rob Hunter, said: “Not only is it reasonable to refuse to fly when fatigued, it is absolutely necessary.”

It is against the law for a pilot to operate an aeroplane whilst suffering from fatigue, or feels that they may become fatigued.

According to Mr Hunter, Captain Simkins ought to have been applauded by Thomas Cook for informing them of his fatigue, rather than disciplined.

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More health and safety measures needed at trampoline parks

Concern over health and safety at trampoline parks in the UK

A number of organisations, which includes the British Gymnastics group, say more health and safety measures are needed at trampoline parks across the UK. The organisations have joined together and come up with a set of guidelines they believe should be put in place to make the parks safer.

In total, 13 organisations are backing the new draft of guidelines, which includes the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and the International Association of Trampoline Parks.

More health and safety measures needed at trampoline parks

Jumpers Rebound Centre, Medway Park – trampolining © Copyright N Chadwick and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Trampoline parks do have to follow health and safety regulations but no rules are in place when it comes to building the parks and running them.

Angela Nash who runs a trampoline park in Leicestershire called Rebound, says that her main priority is safety and all members of the public using their facilities have to watch a safety briefing video first to show them the do’s and don’ts.

No figures are available to show how many injuries have occurred whilst people have been trampolining but new health and safety measures have been called for after a trampoline park in Dalkeith, Midlothian, recorded over 100 incidents during a three week period in 2015. The park eventually closed its doors.

As soon as the guidelines are concluded, RoSPA said they want all existing trampoline parks to confirm their compliance the the new guidelines within an 18 month period.

The number of trampoline parks springing up across England and Wales has shot up from only six in 2014, to around 100 this year, according to the International Association of Trampoline Parks. Indoor trampoline parks usually consist of a number of trampolines lined up next to one another and can also include bridges, slides and see-saws to jump off from.

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Number of employment tribunal cases fall by 73%

Slump blamed on introduction of employment tribunal fees of up to £1,200

A new study has revealed that the number of employees taking claims out for discrimination or unfair dismissal to employment tribunals, has fallen by 73% since the introduction of charges were put in place.

According to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), there’s been a massive reduction in cases of discrimination; on grounds of sex (71%), race (58%) and disability (54%), since the introduction of charges of up to £1,200.

In 2012-13, the number of employees taking claims to an employment tribunal was around 16,000 per month, falling drastically to just 7,000 over the past year.

Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, said: “These figures show a huge drop in workers seeking justice when they’ve been unfairly treated. Now bosses know they can get away with it, discrimination at work can flourish unchecked and people can be sacked without good reason.”

Ms O’Grady added that the evidence was in front of all of us. Fees of up to £1,200, for all workers, not matter what they earn, meant that many employees were being priced out of taking their case to a tribunal.

She said that employment tribunal fees should be abolished, so that workers treated unfairly by their employers can take them to court.

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Number one health and safety concern in the workplace is stress

A study by the TUC reveals that stress in the wokplace has now reached record levels and is cause for health and safety concern

The TUC have carried out a new survey into stress in the workplace and have found that a new way of dealing with mental health issues is needed, as stress in the British work place has now reached record levels, causing severe health and safety concerns.

They surveyed 1,000 union health and safety reps from different areas of the UK and out of those questioned, seven out of ten said that they suffered from stress, more so amongst those who have been affected by Government spending cuts.

TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, commented on the issue: “The message from the shop floor is clear, stress is becoming a bigger and bigger problem. Pressures of long working hours and low job security are being felt in workplaces across the UK.”

Ms O’Grady added that stress in the workplace benefits no-one, including employers, and workers who do suffer from stress tend to be less productive and take more time off work.

According to Ms O’Grady, stress in the workplace can be reduced if workloads are kept to a reasonable level; if the working environment is calm and there are no concerns over bullying, harassment or violence; and if staff have the support and understanding of the management.

According to the survey, stress was the top concern across all eleven of the UK’s regions, including Scotland and Wales.

The biggest increase of stress in the workplace and worries over health and safety was in Northern Ireland, which had increased by 13% to 78%, compared to 65% only two years previously.

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