Excavator firm fined after worker’s fingers severed

John Watson, 55, from Wheatley Hill, County Durham, was drilling holes in steel plates at Komatsu UK Ltd Birtley, when his right hand became caught in the rotating parts of the machine. Komatsu UK Ltd, of Durham Road, Birtley pleaded guilty of one breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,421.10.


Builder prosecuted for ignoring health and safety rules

A builder whose employees were forced to work in unsanitary conditions, with no toilet or washing facilities, in Rochdale has appeared in court. Michael Connolly, of Simonstone Lane in Burnley, pleaded guilty to failing to comply with Regulation 22(1)(c) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 by not providing suitable and sufficient washing facilities, and Section 33(1)(g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to comply with an improvement notice. He was fined £400 and ordered to pay £1,000 costs. http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2010/coi-nw-058connolly.htm

Bury firm sentenced after woman’s fingers severed

A worker in a factory, manufacturing lids for food containers, had four fingers severed in a lid-punching machine that had been modified by her employers.

Chadwicks of Bury Ltd, which produces lids for yogurt pots, ice cream cartons and other food containers, was prosecuted by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at the company’s Villiers Street factory on 15 May 2008.

The 51-year-old worker, who has asked not to be named, was rethreading silver paper through the machine when the cutting tool restarted, severing four fingers on her right hand.

The HSE investigation found the company had covered the sensors on the machine so it could be used to cut paper instead of foil lids. The sensors would have stopped the machine operating when paper was being rethreaded through the cutting tool, if they had not been disabled.

Chadwicks of Bury pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 by failing to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery. The company was fined £22,500 with £8,708 costs at Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court today. http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2010/coi-nw-65chadwicks.htm

Worker’s arm injured by two tonne metal plate

An Edinburgh steel fabricating firm has been fined after an employee’s arm and hand were severely injured while lifting steel plates.

On 21 August 2009, Ian Sutherland was working with a colleague to mark a delivery of sheet metal plates with unique identifying numbers before they could be accepted into the factory.

The metal plates, each weighing more than two tonnes, were placed on top of each other. This meant that they each had to be lifted in turn so that the next plate down could be marked.

At the time of the incident, it was the company’s practice for a crane operator to lift the plates by approximately 18 inches using bare hooks. A wooden baton would then be placed in between the plates, the intended purpose of which was to protect the operators while reaching in to mark the lower plate.

Only a month before the incident occurred, HSE had carried out an inspection of the site. At that time, the HSE inspector had highlighted the importance of using the proper lifting equipment and the need for employees to have the correct training and supervision.

Mr Sutherland placed his right arm between the two plates to mark the lower plate, when the upper plate slipped from the hook it was held by and fell onto his arm.

Mr Sutherland’s right forearm was broken and needed surgery to insert a six inch steel plate to support it. His middle finger on his right hand was also broken and needed to be pinned in three places. More than a year after the incident, Mr Sutherland still has a constant dull ache in his arm and has limited strength, and is unable to grip items properly.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) showed that Forth Steel Ltd had an unsafe procedure in place for lifting the steel plates. The investigation also showed that the company had not carried out a suitable assessment of the risks involved when employees worked under a suspended load and that the crane operator had not received any formal lifting training, despite the company identifying this need some months earlier.

Forth Steel Ltd of South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, pleaded guilty to breaching section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure that there was a safe system of work for the lifting of the plates, and not providing their employees with the information, instruction and training they needed to ensure their health and safety. At Edinburgh Sheriff Court today (8 December), the company was fined £50,000.

Following the case, HSE inspector Kerry Cringan said:

“This was a serious and entirely preventable incident that has left Mr Sutherland with lasting pain and discomfort, and affected his quality of life.

“Forth Steel Ltd was using a wholly inappropriate system of work, and despite previous discussions about lifting activities, used inappropriate equipment when the propriety plate grabs were available.” http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2010/coi-sco-20710.htm

Worker paralysed after being crushed by reel of paper

An employee of a major paper producer in North Wales has been left paralysed from the chest down after being crushed by a two tonne reel of paper.

Christopher John Shaw, from Wirral, was working as an assistant winder for SCA Hygiene Products UK Ltd when the incident occurred on 29 July 2007.

Mr Shaw (38) was involved in producing and preparing paper reels at the firm’s site in Oakenholt, Flint. He was using his body weight to slow down a moving paper reel when he slipped. The reel, which was around two metres in diameter, then rolled onto him causing serious crush injuries which left him with paralysis.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the firm after an investigation and at Mold Crown Court it pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. It was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £18,514

HSE inspector Will Gretton said:

“Employees using their body weight to slow down such large and potentially dangerous items as paper reels, clearly isn’t a safe way of working.

“There were clear risks that weren’t properly managed by the company, which resulted in Mr Shaw’s horrific injuries.

“The consequences of this incident could have been even more serious. The company has now put into place more effective measures to protect the health and safety of their employees, unfortunately too late for Mr Shaw.” http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2010/coi-w-le806w10.htm

Two workers exposed to asbestos at Aston University

A Birmingham-based university has been fined, along with a security systems firm, after two workers were exposed to dangerous asbestos fibres while fitting CCTV cameras.

The worker and a 17-year-old trainee were installing the cameras in the reception area at Aston University’s Recreation Centre on 21 July 2009 when they drilled into material containing asbestos fibres.

Both the university and Warwickshire-based Access Fire and Security Ltd – the contractor carrying out the work – were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident.

Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard the university failed to follow its own procedures on managing, planning and preparing for the installation and the arrangements were unclear and not widely known within the university.

Aston University, of Aston Triangle, Birmingham, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5(1) of the Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999 and Regulation 4(9)(c) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £2,000 costs.

Access Fire and Security Ltd, which operates from a unit in Henley Court, Henley-in-Arden, and is registered at an address in Yardley Wood, Billesley, Birmingham, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5(a) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £1,000 costs.

Karl Raw, the investigating inspector at HSE, said:

“While the amount of asbestos involved in this incident was small, two people now have to live with the knowledge that they may become ill from lung disease in the future.

“Aston University failed to ensure university employees and others working across the site were aware of the presence of asbestos fibres.

“Surveys on the location and conditions of asbestos and materials containing asbestos had been carried out across the university but there was no procedure for communicating the details to contractors.

“Access Fire and Security Ltd, a long-term contractor with the university, had never been given any information about asbestos – and had never asked for it. They also failed to assess whether asbestos was present, what type of asbestos was involved and what condition it was in, before undertaking work.” http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2010/coi-wm-29210.htm

Maintenance firm fined after Heathrow incident

A worker suffered injuries to his face and knees when he fell two metres in a maintenance hangar at Heathrow Airport.

John Nicholas, 59, from Gloucester, was employed by aircraft maintenance company Messier Services Ltd, and was replacing the landing gear at the front of an A340 aircraft when the incident happened.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Mr Nicholas and a colleague were using a fork lift truck in an attempt to align the barrel of the main landing gear fitting with the socket on the underside of the aircraft.

During the operation Mr Nicholas realised the alignment was not correct and in an attempt to correct it kneeled down on an unsecured pallet designed to support the landing gear, two metres above the floor.

However, the forklift truck supporting the pallet reversed suddenly causing the pallet to drop to the floor. Mr Nicholas fell with the pallet, fracturing his knee cap and suffering significant injuries to the left side of his face. Since the incident he has needed a number of operations to his mouth and teeth.

The HSE investigation found the work was not properly planned and the pallet being used did not have a proper adjustment to help align the landing gear and the socket on the underside of the aircraft.

Messier Services Ltd, which has its UK offices in Meteor Business Park, Cheltenham Road East, Gloucestershire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

It was fined £7,200 and ordered to pay costs of £11,820 at the City of London Magistrates’ Court today.

Following sentencing HSE inspector Steve Kirton said:

“This company did not properly plan this work even though it was a core part of its operations.  Mr Nicholas has suffered severe injuries to his face and knees purely due to a lack of planning.

“Messier should have either found a way working at ground level or provided a safe way of working at height with access to the right equipment.

“Employers need to plan work and assess the risk to people not only in their own premises, but also when the work takes place in another company’s property.” http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2010/coi-ldn-0212.htm

Laminate flooring firm sentenced over worker’s injuries

A laminate flooring firm has been sentenced after a worker at its Merseyside factory suffered severe injuries to his left hand.

Christopher Sillitoe now has difficulty dressing himself, and using a knife and fork, after his hand came into contact with a large circular saw at Universal Mouldings Ltd’s site in Aintree on 20 August 2009.

The company was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following an investigation into the cause of the incident, which resulted in Mr Sillitoe losing sections of three fingers and breaking his thumb. The 22-year-old from Everton, needed a six-hour operation to reattach his fingers and is unlikely to ever regain full movement in his left hand.

Universal Mouldings, which employs 25 people, was fined £5,000 after admitting two health and safety offences at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court on 2 December. The court heard that workers at the factory had been instructed to reach under the guard on the machine to remove the laminate material while the 0.65-metre-wide blade was still rotating.

The machine was installed in the Brookfield Drive factory in 2000 but a 27 centimetre gap beneath the guard allowed workers to reach under it. The HSE investigation found that workers were expected to remove the cut laminate from the blade to stop it being damaged, and that there had been several near-misses in the past.

Mr Sillitoe, who joined the company at the age of 16, has not had a job since the incident and will be unable to return to joinery work in the future.

Jane Carroll, the investigating inspector at HSE, said:

“Workers at Universal Moulding’s factory were put at risk for more than nine years, and it was inevitable that someone would eventually suffer a serious injury.

“The machine was simply the wrong one for the job. The only way of ensuring the laminate material wasn’t damaged when the blade retracted was for workers to reach under the guard to remove it.

“The company should have realised it was putting its staff in danger every day they worked on the machine, and found another way of carrying out the work. It has now installed a more suitable machine, but only after Mr Sillitoe suffered permanent injuries to his left hand.”

Universal Mouldings was charged with breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 by failing to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery, and Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by putting workers at risk. The company was ordered to pay £7,500 towards the cost of the prosecution in addition to the fine. http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2010/coi-nw-70universalmouldings.htm

Worcestershire care home fined after investigation into fatal fall from window

A vulnerable 92-year-old woman died after falling from a first floor window in a Worcestershire care home, a court heard.

Thora Monk died after falling more than 4m from her bedroom window at The Lawns Nursing Home in Kempsey on 5 January 2007. The home is operated by Heritage Manor Ltd, which manages retirement and nursing homes across the UK.

During the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution of Heritage Manor Ltd, Worcester Magistrates’ Court heard the window in the frail woman’s bedroom could be opened fully.

Police attending the incident at the time found that other windows could also be opened fully and were accessible to elderly residents. Published HSE guidance recommends that windows, through which there is a risk of a person falling if opened, should be restricted so they open no more than 100mm.

The court heard that Heritage Manor Ltd had failed to maintain its method of restricting the opening of the windows adequately, thus putting residents at risk.

Heritage Manor Ltd, of Coach House, The Lawns, Kempsey, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

The company was fined £16,500 and ordered to pay £25,000 towards costs.

HSE investigating inspector Claire Coleman said:

“The risk of vulnerable people falling from windows is a well known issue in nursing homes.

“Adequate controls are easy to implement and maintain, and advice is available from HSE. For example, the fitting of chain restrictors that physically prevent windows from opening further than 100mm is a straightforward and inexpensive method of protecting people who are dependent upon others for their safety. “Care providers are urged to revisit their risk assessment to ensure that they have adequate measures in place and that these are being suitably maintained.”


Kent-wide inspection campaign highlights safety concerns in motor vehicle repair premises

Almost half (49%) of motor vehicle repair premises visited across Kent have been told to make improvements to protect the health and safety of workers.

Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Kent Fire and Rescue Service and local authorities have been looking at areas such as asbestos management, electrical safety, chemical use and equipment maintenance as part of the “Common Approach to Vehicle Enterprise” (CAVE) initiative.

Since the campaign began at the beginning of November, 172 premises have been inspected across the county and, so far, 84 notices have been issued for things such as unsafe electrics and vehicle lifts, and dangerous welding equipment.

In the final phase of the countywide safety campaign, inspectors have targeted premises in Dartford, Gravesham, Medway and Swale.

In Dartford, 10 premises were visited and eight improvement notices were issued, while in Gravesham 22 premises were visited, resulting in eight improvement notices and eight prohibition notices.

Seventeen premises were visited in Medway, and five improvement notices and two prohibition notices were issued. Twelve improvement notices and two prohibition notices were also issued across 13 sites in Swale.

Mike Walters, HM Principal Inspector for the HSE in Kent, said:

“Many incident or deaths could be avoided in the motor vehicle repair trade, however, the statistics speak for themselves, which is why we have targeted these premises. Unfortunately, some sites had such poor health and safety standards that formal enforcement action had to be taken.

“We hope that through this campaign everyone we visited has become aware of the risks involved in the workplace. We would much prefer to be offering them advice but if workers are being put at significant risk of injury or ill health, we will not hesitate to take action.” http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2010/coi-se-0112.htm