June Health & Safety Updates We know how difficult it can be to keep up to date with the latest health and safety revelations from the courtroom. With hundreds of court cases around the country on a monthly basis, charges and outcomes can be difficult to track. Thankfully, we’ve condensed all of the essential health & safety cases from the last month, so you can take a look at them in one place. Wayne Dunning, Health & Safety manager at ELAS, has given his thoughts on what the below companies could have done to reduce incidents. Floor layer killed by toxic adhesive was wearing ‘completely ineffectual’ face mask
A property maintenance firm and a flooring manufacturer have been fined a combined £750,000 over the death of a floor layer in London.
Paul Tilcock had been using an adhesive that contained toxic solvents to fix a bathroom floor at a house in Mitcham, south London. The 30-year-old was found dead on the floor by the homeowner on 4 September 2015, following a health and safety breach.
Altro, the flooring company that supplied the adhesive, admitted that it had failed to ensure so far as was reasonably practicable that the product was safe to use. It pleaded guilty to breaching s 6(4) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £500,000 at Westminster Magistrates’ Court and ordered to pay £34,773 costs.
The main component of the flooring adhesive was dichloromethane (DCM), which poses inhalation risks and is a restricted substance under the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said that the maintenance contractor, T Brown Group, did not have any systems or procedures in place to control the risks to its employees from working in an enclosed space with DCM.
Its investigation revealed that it was left to the employees to decide what type of respiratory protection to wear, or whether to wear it at all.
When Tilcock’s body was found, he was wearing a “completely ineffectual” face mask, Westminster Magistrates’ Court was told.
T Brown Group was fined £250,000 and must also pay costs of £23,936 after it pleaded guilty to breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.
HSE inspector Peter Collingwood said: “It is important that companies have an appreciation of their duties (whether to its employees or its customers) and have effective systems and procedures in place to ensure that those duties are fulfilled.”
Wayne’s comment; Many organisations use chemicals, whether liquid or solid, as part of their process. But unfortunately, many employers do not consider the risks exposed to the person coming into contact with such substance, particularly where there is a risk of inhalation or contact. A safety data sheet or “what precautions should be taken are generally on the tin!” would be the first check and the appropriate personal protective equipment should be worn. Uncontrolled use of solvent lands aircraft livery firm with £66k fine
A fire that broke out in a hangar at
London Southend Airport in Essex was caused by workers pouring an “extremely flammable” solvent on to the floor to clean it, a court was told.
Aircraft repainting and refinishing firm Air Livery has been fined £66,000 over the incident on 16 August 2017 and ordered to pay costs of £5,496.
Employees were cleaning the floor of the hangar used for paint spraying aircraft. Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court was told Air Livery had instructed them to pour the flammable solvent on to the floor to clean off the paint residue.
The solvent caught alight and an attempt to put the fire out with water caused the flames to spread.
The airport remained open, but the hangar and nearby businesses were evacuated while firefighters tackled the blaze for several hours,
Echo News reported.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors found the company had not risk-assessed the floor cleaning process and the highly flammable solvent was used in an uncontrolled manner. It also found employees had little knowledge about the flammability of the solvent and firefighting measures.
Air Livery pleaded guilty to breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and s 5(1) of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations.
After the hearing HSE inspector Jill Mead said: “This was a serious incident and it is fortunate that nobody was injured as a result of it.
“Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers in the safe system of working.
“Readily available solvents used daily for cleaning paint spraying equipment are extremely flammable and their use should be assessed.”
Wayne’s Comment: Many substances can also be flammable, such as adhesives and solvents. This again is stated on the “tin” or in the safety data sheet. Employers or users of the substance can be at risk from fire with no fire preventative measures in place. In many cases such flammable liquids will come under the DSEAR Regulations. COSHH failures cost garden centre £100k
A garden centre in Essex where a chemical spill left a worker with breathing difficulties has been sentenced.
Perrywood Garden Centre and Nurseries, near Tiptree, was fined £104,000 plus £3,691 costs at Basildon Magistrates’ Court after it pleaded guilty to three offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Environmental health officers from Colchester Borough Council investigated the incident after the worker complained to them last September. They found the company had failed to implement the safety management system described in its own policy manual.
Mangers at Perrywood had not taken on board recommendations in its January 2017 safety and health audit, including a requirement to undertake COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) assessments for chemical products on sale as well as additional risk assessments, the court was told.
In sentencing, the judge considered the company’s £9.2m turnover, no previous convictions, remedial action and an early guilty plea.
Earlier this month it was announced that Perrywood acquired Wyevale’s garden centre in Sudbury, Suffolk.
Wayne’s comment: On the topic of substances, many employers do not consider a detailed CoSHH assessment which not only affects the employee, but also impacts the environment. Lack of risk assessment saw workers engulfed in spray booth explosion
Two workers who died in a fireball as vapour from paint they were pouring ignited in a confined space had no risk assessment for the work.
The Eastern Daily Press reported that 56-year-old Barry Joy and 28-year-old Daniel Timbers had been working at Harford Attachments’ new factory on Spar Road in Norwich when the paint booth they were working in exploded and turned into a fireball.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the two workers had already sprayed several welded steel buckets on the morning of 13 July 2015 and were preparing for their next batch when the incident happened.
The HSE found that Harford Attachments, which makes couplers and digger buckets for excavators, had not risk-assessed the activities in the confined space. The company’s “inconsistent and incomplete approach” to safety management resulted in a lack of suitable control measures, specifically, a suitable and sufficient safe system of work.
Prosecuting, Jonathan Ashley-Norman, told Norwich Crown Court the accident was caused by the workers discharging paint into a 200-litre drum inside the booth, which had been purchased from the Royal Air Force for the new factory.
“The consequences of these actions were that the drum effectively became a bomb, because it held within it flammable paint and thinners, but also vapours being given off which were highly flammable,” he said.
“This action caused vapour to enter the paint booth, and consequently came into touch with one of a large number of potential sources of ignition, and, consequently, and foreseeably, exploded.”
Ashley-Norman told the court that the manufacturer had previously been warned that it had failed to provide a risk assessment for the spray paint work in the booth.
Ben Compton QC offered a “complete apology” to the workers’ families on behalf of the company. He asked for a “lenient” fine as Harford Attachments had been through financial hardship since the incident, and still employs 40 staff.
The Eastern Daily Press reported that Compton had told the court that while the new factory on Spar Road was being commissioned, the safety of the spray booth “dropped off the radar”.
“There was no one really in charge of health and safety with the expertise to deal with a very specialist piece of kit,” he said. “There was no one person holding the reins saying this must be done before any people go into that booth.”
Sentencing Judge Stephen Holt said: “It is ironic the purpose of these new premises was to provide a far better and safer workplace. It is clear no risk assessment had been carried out for the method of cleaning. It would have revealed the dangers that were clearly there.”
Harford Attachments pleaded guilty to breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and breaching reg 6(4)(f)(i) of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmosphere Regulations 2002. The firm has seven years to pay off the £145,000 fine imposed, with court costs of £65,900.
After sentencing, Steve Kidd, managing director of Harford Attachments, said “many substantial changes have been made so to ensure safe working systems and practices”.
Wayne’s comment; Apart from those CoSHH assessments, employers fail to recognize all the other risks within the organisation. Particularly, where methodical processes are undertaken, which are not all identified as specific to the risk assessment or DSEAR assessment must be carried out. HSE are launching a new set of dust inspections for summer, are you ready?
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) announced the new round of dust control inspections on 11 June, which will take place over the next few weeks. HSE inspectors will concentrate on industries such as construction, woodworking and food manufacturing where occupational lung diseases, including in some cases occupational cancers, are more common.
Inspectors will be visiting businesses to see what measures are in place to protect workers’ lungs from the likes of asbestos, silica, wood and flour dust. They will seek evidence of businesses and their workers knowing the risks, planning their work and using the right controls. Where necessary, HSE will use enforcement to make sure people are protected.
Sarah Jardine, HSE’s chief inspector of construction said: “We are carrying out this series of inspections to ensure businesses are fulfilling their legal duties to protect workers from harm. This includes controlling the levels of dust in workplaces.
“We want to ensure employers and their workers are aware of the risks associated with any task that produces dust. Such work needs to be properly planned and use the right controls, such as water suppression, extraction and masks.
“The bottom line is we want everyone, workers and their employers, to be protected from harm and ill health so they can go home healthy to their families.”
The HSE have created
a downloadable campaign for businesses to show their support for the new safety checks. Individuals and businesses can download posters to put up around their sites and workplaces to show that they’re following procedures.