An eye for an eye — man loses sight to compresed air hose!

A Tyneside autoparts firm has been fined after a worker lost his sight in one eye when a compressed air hose whipped him in the face.

The injured man, who has asked not to be named, was carrying out maintenance work to clean a paint fume filter at Faltec Europe Ltd’s site in Boldon on 7 July 2012.

When he had finished, he isolated the compressed air supply at the connection point and went to disconnect the equipment.

However, he was unaware the pressure from the flexible hose needed venting before disconnection. As a result, the hose whipped and struck him in the face, hitting his eye and breaking his cheekbone.

The 49 year-old, from South Shields has permanently lost the sight in his right eye but he has been able to return to work.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which today (10 June) prosecuted Faltec Europe Ltd for safety failings at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.

The HSE investigation found the company had failed to provide the worker with sufficient information, instruction or training on the equipment he was using when the incident happened.

Faltec Europe Ltd, of Didcot Way, Boldon Business Park, Tyne and Wear, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £7,813.70 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Fiona McGarry said:

“This was an entirely preventable incident which has resulted in a worker losing his sight in one eye – an injury which will affect him permanently.

“The sudden release of compressed air is a known hazard in industry. Faltec Europe Ltd should have ensured that there was a safe system of work in place and that anyone working with compressed air had been given sufficient information, instruction and training to keep themselves and others safe from air blasts and whipping or snaking hoses.”

Plus Safety comment: Pressure in any flexible hose if released suddenly will cause the hose to whip about. This is one of those common hazards which practically everyone knows about. It is no different at work. Basic maintenance procedures should dictate that all hoses and lines are vented before work starts.

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Guess what? Reversing vehicles are dangerous!

A Bolton company has been ordered to pay almost £130,000 in fines and costs after a worker suffered serious injuries when he was crushed between two trucks at a recycling plant. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted DS Smith Paper Ltd after the firm failed to observe correct safety procedures around the tipping area at its Severnside site on Turton Street. The company was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court today (11 June 2013).

The 61-year-old worker from Towyn, North Wales, who has asked not to be named, suffered fractured ribs, a fractured right collar bone, a punctured right lung and multiple bruising after being crushed between his own HGV and another vehicle on 26 February 2010. During a four-day trial at Manchester Crown Court last month, the jury heard the worker had emptied his load of paper and had got out his truck to close its rear doors, using two buttons on the side of the vehicle. As he did this, another truck reversed into the warehouse through a separate doorway and trapped him between both vehicles. The court was told that, at the time of the incident, there were no barriers in the tipping shed to separate vehicles entering through different doors, and that a supervisor wasn’t present to indicate whether it was safe for drivers to enter the site.

A HSE investigation found it was common practice for two vehicles to be in the warehouse at any one time, putting drivers at risk when they had to leave their trucks. DS Smith Paper Ltd also failed to enforce its own system for controlling entry into the tipping shed as there was not always a supervisor present. It has since introduced new safety procedures, which mean only one HGV is allowed in the warehouse.

A new safety area has also been introduced for pedestrians. DS Smith Paper Ltd, of Turton Street, Bolton, was found guilty of breaching the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 by failing to make sure the site was safe for vehicles and pedestrians.

The company was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay £49,822 in prosecution costs.

Plus Safety Comment: The risks of reversing vehicles are well known- a simple rule (one truck at a time) would have prevented this accident. It is not rocket science!

SME’s beware, poor health and safety can close you down!

Plus Safety Comment – Poor Health & Safety control can lead directly to major accidents and ultimate closure of your business, if you are a small to medium sized business then beware, as this example below shows, heavy fines can lead to insolvency. One wonders what the cost of emplacing good health & safety control would have been in this company, one thing I can guarantee, it would have been a fraction of the actual cost of not doing so, somewhere in the region of 1-2%, So what exactly did this company save by not doing so? http://www.plussafety.co.uk or 01257411827 for a general chat on establishing health & safety control in your company.

A Sheffield company that crushes rubble from construction and demolition waste, ultimately found to have poor health & safety control, has been fined £300,000 after an employee was killed by an overturning skip lorry in Derbyshire.

David Vickers, 37, of Walton, was tipping a skip at Adis Scaffolding Ltd’s site in Markham Lane, Duckmanton, when the incident happened on 22 July 2008.

Derby Crown Court heard today (7 June) that he had exited the cab of the truck he was driving to deploy the stabilising rear outriggers before raising a skip using the lifting arms. However, as he did so the vehicle overturned and landed on top of him, causing fatal injuries. He died at the scene.

A subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the skip was mis-hooked, with the hooks engaging on the lip of a base plate rather than a catch bar, the correct part of the skip. This meant that it tipped normally until reaching an angle of approximately 70 degrees, at which point it broke free and swung out backwards causing the front of the vehicle to lift several feet off the ground. During the course of tipping the offside outrigger retracted causing the lorry to tip over.

HSE also established that there was no safe system of work for the skip operation, including how to handle mis-hooks and other foreseeable problems; that there was inadequate training and instruction; that the skip lorry controls were not marked; and that the risk assessment for loading and unloading skips fell short of identifying all significant risks and controls.

Adis Scaffolding Limited, now in liquidation but formerly of Queen Street, Sheffield, was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay £124,468 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing HSE inspector Edward Walker said:

“The failings by Adis Scaffolding Limited were substantial, ranging from unsuitable equipment, an inadequate risk assessment, inadequate training and instruction, and an absence of safe systems of work.

“These failings led to a situation where things went badly wrong, and where David was placed in an impossible situation. His tragic death could easily have been avoided with better planning, management and foresight.”

As a result of the incident HSE issued an industry-wide safety alert highlighting the dangers of incorrect engagement of hooks on skips. http://www.hse.gov.uk/safetybulletins/tippinghooks.htm