These Are The Top Health & Safety Cases For March 2019 We know how difficult it can be to keep up to date with the latest 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:
A construction company was sentenced this month for safety breaches after a worker fell 2.7 metres through an open stairwell.
Leeds Magistrates’ court heard how, on 31 May 2017, the worker, aged 26, was working on the upper floor of a cricket club which was under refurbishment. The worker was removing a ‘genie lift’ from the forks of a lift truck, so that steel beams could be lifted into place, when he stepped backwards and fell through the stairwell opening. He sustained multiple injuries including a fractured spine, a fractured skull and a small collapse of one of his lungs, and was hospitalised for six days. The worker has not yet been able to return to work.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the construction company had carried out a risk assessment which identified there would be gaps in the floor through which a person could fall. However, they failed to put in place any measures to either prevent or mitigate the consequences of a fall. Such measures include the use of fixed edge protection systems to prevent falls or the use of fall arrest bags to mitigate falls.
The company has been fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £1,020 in costs.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Jayne Towey commented: “Falls from height often result in life-changing or fatal injuries. In most cases, these incidents are needless and could be prevented by properly planning the work to ensure that effective preventative and protective measures are in place such as edge protection or barriers built to the correct standard.
“This incident could have easily been prevented if the company had installed adequate edge protection around the opening to prevent falls.”
A distribution company based in Warrington has been sentenced after an agency worker sustained serious, life-changing injuries whilst working in Cheltenham.
Cheltenham Magistrate’s Court heard how, on 18 May 2017, a 27-year-old agency worker arrived at the Gloucester depot to begin his first day of work with the company as a multi-drop delivery driver. After a brief induction process, the worker delivered his first drop successfully however the address provided for the second drop was incorrect and therefore a delivery of 12 beer kegs was not made.
When on his next delivery, the worker used a pallet truck to manoeuvre the beer on the lorry to gain access to the next load on his list. He fell backwards from the raised tail lift onto the road and several kegs of beer fell and struck him. The worker suffered serious injuries including a traumatic brain injury and facial fractures requiring metal plates to be inserted into his skull.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the worker had no previous experience in using the type of pallet truck or tail lift involved in the incident. He was not given any practical training in the safe use of this machinery, nor was he made aware of safe working practices on how the pallet truck should be used on a tail lift. The distribution company as an employer, failed in its duty to carry out checks on the injured person’s competence and previous experience. As a consequence of their failure to make these checks, they did not provide adequate training.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974. It has been fined £60,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,203.14.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Berenice Ray said: “
Employers who use agency workers or contractors have a responsibility to firstly establish the workers’ competence, taking into account their level of experience and familiarity with the work and work equipment, and then provide the appropriate level of training to ensure the work is done safely. If appropriate training had been provided, the life-changing injuries sustained by the agency worker could have been prevented.”
A furniture manufacturing company, was sentenced today for failing to prevent exposure to asbestos at its factory in Killingworth, Newcastle upon Tyne.
North Tyneside Magistrates heard how during a 14-year period, following an asbestos survey carried out in 2003 which identified the presence of asbestos containing materials, the company failed to introduce an adequate management plan or carry out remedial work to prevent potential exposure to asbestos fibres. In 2017 an employee raised a concern to the Health and Safety Executive.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had failed to take measures necessary to protect employees from exposure to asbestos. It also failed to ensure that maintenance workers were made aware of the location of the asbestos to ensure they didn’t disturb it.
The company was found guilty in its absence of breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and regulation 4(8) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. The District Judge said the fine would have been £800,000 but that this was reduced to £1 due to the company being in administration.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Ashfaq Ali said: “Asbestos remains in many buildings where people work. If it is managed and in good condition, there is nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, the company didn’t do what the law required and the asbestos in the building was not managed or maintained. This is a real risk and a clear breach of the law which required HSE to prosecute even though the company is in administration.”
Basildon Borough Council has today been sentenced after a brick boundary wall it part-owned collapsed and seriously injured a six-year-old girl.
Basildon Crown Court heard how, on 14 August 2016, a wall spanning the back of two houses in Fleetway, Vange collapsed onto the girl during a family barbecue. She was placed in an induced coma after sustaining serious and life-threatening injuries. She was in intensive care for 7 days and in hospital for 10 days in total. She has made a good recovery but still suffers some physical and emotional problems.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Basildon Borough Council failed to take any action after receiving concerns about the wall’s condition from private tenants, two years prior to the incident.
Wider concerns about the poor condition of brick walls in the vicinity, including council-owned walls, were not passed to building control or the Council’s inspections teams. Basildon Borough Council failed to implement a system of intelligence-led inspection, maintenance and repair, to adequately identify and remedy the risks of collapses to boundary walls, both owned solely by the Council, or jointly with private residents.
Basildon Borough Council of The Basildon Centre, St Martins Square, Basildon, Essex pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and has been fined of £133,333 and ordered to pay costs of £21,419.55.
Speaking after the case, HSE inspector Tania van Rixtel said: “This was a wholly avoidable incident which could easily have been fatal. If Basildon Borough Council had properly recorded residents’ concerns about the state of the walls, then a suitably qualified individual could have been engaged to identify the level of risk and instigated the required remedial action. Despite the low frequency of wall collapses, they are high consequence events requiring those with the responsibility for structural safety to take proactive measures to ensure that boundary walls and other structures are safely maintained.”
A commercial vehicle repair firm and its managing director have been sentenced today following the death of an employee who was crushed by a bus.
Cambridge Crown Court heard how, on 4 July 2017, the male employee was working in a vehicle inspection pit beneath a single decker bus at the company’s site. The rear of the bus had been raised off the ground and was supported on two bottle jacks, so that work could be carried out on the brakes. The coach fell from the jacks onto the employee, killing him instantly.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident the bus company failed to plan and organise the lifting of the bus in a manner that ensured the safety of their workers. The coach was inadequately supported, using only two hydraulic bottle jacks. It should have been supported so that it could not have fallen, using axle stands or other appropriate equipment.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and were fined £50,000 and ordered to pay costs of £22,282.54
The director of the company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and received a custodial sentence of six months in prison suspended for 18 months.
HSE Inspector Paul Unwin commented: “This tragic incident led to the avoidable death of a much loved family man. His death could easily have been prevented if his employer had acted to identify and manage the risks involved, and to put a safe system of work in place.
“Employers should make sure that they properly assess and apply effective control measures to minimise the risk from dangerous work activities.”