HSE Injuries and Fatalities Roundup (UK) (9 Jan)

Unsafe skid steer loader causes a fatality – HSE said: “Amin Qabil’s life was brought to an end after he suffered horrific injuries caused by a vehicle that should never have been in use. Blackburn Skip Hire should have made sure the skid steer loader it bought at auction was safe to use, and that workers were properly trained. Instead vital safety features had been disabled and lives were put at risk as a result. The company and its owner had a legal and moral duty to look after the safety of Mr Qabil, but sadly their failings led to him losing his life. The waste and recycling sector has been classified as one of the most dangerous industries in Britain, with a death rate that is 16 times the national average. The latest figures show a total of ten workers lost their lives in the industry in 2012/13.” HSE Press Release is here.

Steelwork collapse causes injury to roof workers – HSE said: “This incident had enormous potential for loss of life. The canopy collapsed suddenly and violently without warning taking the five roofers that were on it down over 13 metres to the ground on what can only be described as a terror ride. It is a miracle that they were not more seriously injured or even killed. Other construction workers had been working directly under the school canopy for most of the day installing windows in the new school. Fortunately they were not under the canopy when it collapsed. The company had fabricated the steelwork for the canopy and failed to ensure that critical welds within the design of the steel truss were completed to the required specification and size. This failure led the canopy to collapse as more roofing material was added. It is vital that companies carrying out this type of work have suitable and sufficient quality control measures in place in order to ensure that the structural integrity of the new building is never in question.” HSE Press Release is here.

Absence of machinery guards causes hand injury – HSE said: “Easibake Foods failed to take effective measures to prevent access to potentially dangerous parts of its machinery, therefore exposing wokers to the risk of injury. This was a completely needless and entirely preventable incident that left an employee with painful injuries. The company should have used a fixed guard to prevent access to the dividing blades. Sadly, it is not uncommon for employees in the food manufacturing industry to be injured when cleaning unguarded, operating machinery. HSE will not hesitate to prosecute companies where key safety devices are not fitted to potentially dangerous machinery.” HSE Press Release is here.

Poor machinery guarding causes injury – HSE said: “There is no excuse for companies to operate machinery without protecting employees and other workers from the dangerous parts. The requirement for guarding is well known and recognised across industry not least because the risks are obvious. Had the machine had adequate guarding and a safe system of work implemented to isolate the machine, the serious and painful injury to this young and inexperienced worker could have been avoided.” HSE Press Release is here.

Use of an unguarded magnetic drill causes injury – HSE said: “The incident was an entirely preventable one. Magnetic drills come supplied with guards, which are obviously there for a reason and should be used. The issue of gloves and drilling machines is one that is well known – rigger-type gloves don’t tear easily and should not be worn during fixed drilling work. Last year, about 13 per cent of major injuries reported involved contact with moving machinery. Companies must ensure equipment is effectively guarded and their workers are suitably protected from dangerous moving parts.” HSE Press Release is here.

Workplace transport vehicle reversing causes fatal injury – HSE said: “Mr Gleeson’s tragic death was entirely preventable, and could have been avoided had the sole trader (and driver) taken precautions before reversing his van. Managing the movement of vehicles at his premises was entirely his responsibility and it is clear there was no system in place to control this. Pedestrians and vehicles should always be segregated, and if that cannot happen then other precautions should be put in place. On this occasion that should, at the very least, have included checking the rear of the van before reversing with assistance if necessary, or putting in place a system that meant he did not have to reverse from his premises, neither of which happened.” HSE Press Release is here.

Work at height fall causes serious injury – HSE said: “Work at height is inherently fraught with risk, and falls remain the single biggest cause of deaths and serious injury in the construction industry. The worker in this case suffered life-changing injuries, but it could easily have resulted in death. It is also fortunate that a colleague who was on the roof with him was not injured. This incident could have been prevented had the defendant put in place effective arrangements to ensure the risks were managed and workers were protected. The latest HSE statistics show that 40 workers were killed and more than 3,400 were seriously injured in falls from height in 2011/12.” HSE Press Release is here.

Tree felling causes a fatality – The Buccleuch Estates Limited of Weatherhouse, Bowhill, Selkirk, was fined £140,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. HSE said: “This was an entirely avoidable incident and the failures by The Buccleuch Estate directly resulted in Mr Findlay’s tragic death. A system of waves and nods is not a safe way to manage the felling of large, heavy trees and put all three workers at unnecessary risk. This informal and unsafe way of working had been in place unchallenged and not updated for over 15 years with the Estate making no efforts to follow industry safety guidelines or to even accurately assess the risks its workers faced. As a result a vulnerable man has been killed.” HSE Press Release is here.

Carbon monoxide poisoning in a confined space leads to a fatality – Sheffield Forgemasters Steel Ltd was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £125,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. HSE said: “This was a very upsetting incident that resulted in the needless death of an employee. It could have been an even worse tragedy as it was pure chance that another four workers who entered the cellar in a desperate bid to save their colleague did not also perish. Exposure to between 10-15 per cent of carbon dioxide in air for more than a minute causes drowsiness and unconsciousness. Exposure to 17-30 per cent in air is fatal is less than one minute. Carbon dioxide is poisonous even if there is an otherwise sufficient supply of oxygen. The risks associated with confined spaces are well known in industry and there is an entire set of regulations dealing with controlling the risks associated with them. Multiple fatalities do occur when one person gets into difficulty in such a space and then the rescuers are similarly overcome. Sheffield Forgemasters had given no thought to the risks associated with the task being undertaken by their employee, nor had they provided emergency rescue equipment. This case shows how important it is for companies to effectively risk assess work activities, looking at how the work will be carried out and in what circumstances.” HSE Press Release is here.

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