Category Archives: In the courts

HAVS risk sees bus maker in court

Sheffield Crown Court have fined Alexander Dennis, the owner of the Plaxton marque, after nine employees suffered from hand-arm vibration syndrome.

The condition arises through repeated or prolonged use of vibrating tools such as drills and grinders. The penalty of around £120,000 reflected the company’s failings which included the absence of any information on how to reduce exposure, lack of health surveillance, and poor maintenance arrangements for old or defective tools. The employer also failed to act on the advice of consultants that had been brought in to assist with health and safety.

Mailing machine injury ends with prosecution

Stevenage Magistrates’ Court ordered Ampac Security Products Limited to pay a total of £10,000 in fines with £2,328 in costs after the company accepted that they had breached the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

A 20-year-old employee’s arm was pulled between a roller and belt on a poorly guarded mailing machine, resulting in the injured man requiring metal plates and screws inserted into his arm. At the time of the injury, he was trying to clean a moving belt on the machine, which turns rolls of plastic into sealable bags for mailing purposes.

HSE investigators reported that the employer had already identified the risk of entanglement but had not applied guarding to the area where the worker’s arm was drawn in. In addition to the lack of guarding, there had been no training given to the injured man on how he was supposed to clean excess glue from the underside of belts at this machine. The method he used was not normal practice for this equipment and that could have been made clear by giving adequate instructions.

Falling lift leads to prosecution

Temple Lifts Limited, of south London, were ordered to pay £100,000 in fines and costs by Southwark Crown Court after an incident at the Tower Bridge Exhibition. The incident involved a lift car falling three metres down a shaft due to the failure of a counterweight mechanism.

There were ten passengers in the lift and some sustained broken bones. It was found that there had been previous failures of components on the two lifts in service, but management only replaced parts instead of trying to discover why the failures had arisen. Health and Safety Executive inspector Michael la Rose urged all those in control of lifts to make sure that lifts are properly maintained and urgent action is taken where issues or concerns are identified.

Governors fined after pupil’s injury

The Governing Body of the Judd School, based in Tonbridge, Kent, was fined £10,000 with £1,375 costs by Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court after a substantial breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 led to a pupil’s injury.

The 14-year-old boy was standing adjacent to a shot put landing area when he was hit on the head by another boy’s shot, fracturing his skull. The school’s risk assessment failed to follow guidance from the Association for Physical Education concerning the number of activities being carried out simultaneously, despite crossreferencing to this document.

The Court agreed that running six sports at the same time, with three of them being throwing disciplines, was unsafe. This created a significant risk, as did the proximity of the triple-jump pit (where the injured boy had been standing) to the shot put landing area.

Housing Association prosecuted for unsafe gas work

Westminster Magistrates’ Court fined Shepherd’s Bush Housing Association £2,500 with £1,000 costs for sending a handyman to cut off a protruding gas pipe in a tenanted property.

The property was in Fulham, south-west London, and was occupied by a mother with young children. It was wrongly thought the pipe, which was trip hazard, was not connected to the gas main. The tenant had a prepayment meter, and when she next paid for gas it spewed into the premises. Nobody was injured but the case was prosecuted because the Housing Association, who admitted guilt, were legally obliged to have used a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Firms fined for asbestos failings

Northampton Magistrates’ Court heard that serious failings were found when a routine inspection was carried out at the premises of Lifting Systems Limited’s premises at Far Cotton, Northamptonshire.

The company had engaged Durasteel Services Limited to refurbish their asbestos cement roof, but inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive found that asbestos insulation board had been taken down and stored on site, and some materials had been put in waste skips.A Prohibition Notice was served to immediately stop any further work.

Both companies were prosecuted under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. Whilst Lifting Systems Limited was the client, they had removed most of the old asbestos cement panels and they had no demolition and refurbishment survey. Durasteel Services Limited did not identify the potential for asbestos to be disturbed and hadn’t put any effective control measures in place. There was no licence to remove asbestos. Lifting Systems Limited was fined £14,000 whilst Durasteel Services Limited’s penalty was £10,000. Each company was ordered to contribute costs of £523.

DHL fined £50,000 at Old Bailey

In a case that should serve as a warning for any employer who parks vehicles on uneven or sloping ground, courier company DHL has been prosecuted for a serious injury to an HGV driver at their depot in Dunstable, Bedfordshire.

The driver had reversed his cab unit up to a trailer which was parked on a slope. He got out and walked round to connect the trailer but when he released the brakes the whole weight of the trailer was borne by the cab and the vehicle rolled forward. The driver tried to run to the cab door to apply the brakes, but fell under the wheel and sustained life-changing injuries.

The court heard that DHL had failed to assess the risks associated with parking on uneven or sloping ground. Suitable control measures could have been included the use of wheel chocks and an audible handbrake alarm. HSE said that this was “a horrific and entirely preventable injury caused by the failure of the company to recognise all hazards arising from routine operations” and that “the risk of large goods vehicles moving when parked on sloping ground when the brakes of the trailer are disengaged is foreseeable”. DHL was also ordered to pay costs of £15,698 after pleading guilty to breaching S2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Amputation at unguarded machine

Worktop Fabrications Limited, from Nottingham, admitted a charge under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court and was fined £20,000 with costs of £4,574.

This followed an employee having two fingers amputated after they were damaged by a cutting blade that had had the protective guard disconnected. It transpired that the guard on the edge banding machine had been modified four or five years previously. The original interlocked guards had been replaced by a lock and key system that did not prevent the machine operating with the hood open. The company had carried out a risk assessment about a year after the modification but this had failed to identify the lack of an effective system to prevent injury.

Fee for Intervention

Recent figures show that the amount being billed under the Fee for Intervention (FFI) system, whereby the Health and Safety Executive levy a charge on transgressors for time spent dealing with material breaches of legal requirements, is running at an average of around £2m per month.

School taught lesson by Derby Crown Court

Repton School admitted safety failings at Derby Crown Court after a 68-year-old lady fell down a step on an unguarded stairway after visiting to watch her grandson play football.

The investigation concluded that she had fallen while stepping from a wooden staircase that had a handrail to a stone staircase. The school, which was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £534 costs, has now fitted handrails to the unguarded edge.