More Machinery Guarding Fines

Machinery guarding safety failings are a common cause of injury. I posted earlier on machinery guarding fines.

Update: 26th November (automatic scraper system machinery) – breach of Regulation 11(1) and 11(2) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) resulting in serious injury leads to a fine.

Update: 27th November (rip saw machinery) – breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 resulting in injury leads to a fine.

Update: 28th November (paper conversion machinery) – breach of Regulation 11(1) of PUWER resulting in finger amputation leads to a fine.

Update: 29th November (silo machinery) – breach of Regulation 11(1) of PUWER resulting in finer amputation leads to a fine.

Update: 3rd December (roller conveyor machinery) – breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 resulting in finger amputation leads to a fine. In this case the machinery supplier was also fined under Section 3(1) of the same Act.

Regulation 11(1) of PUWER states: “Every employer shall ensure that measures are taken in accordance – (a) to prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery or to any rotating stock-bar; or (b) to stop the movement of any dangerous part of machinery or rotating stock-bar before any part of a person enters a danger zone.”

Regulation 11(2) of PUWER states: “The measures required by Regulation 11(1) shall consist of – (a) the provision of fixed guards enclosing every dangerous part or rotating stock-bar where and to the extent that it is practicable to do so, but where or to the extent that it is not, then (b) the provision of other guards or protection devices where and to the extent that it is practicable to do so, but where or to the extent that it is not, then (c) the provision of jigs, holders, push-sticks or similar protection appliances used in conjunction with the machinery where and to the extent that it is practicable to do so, but where or to the extent that it is not, then (d) the provision of information, instruction, training and supervision.”

Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees”.

Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”

Factory Safety Failings Fatality

A major engineering firm is sentenced (26th November) following the death of an electrician who was crushed by an overhead crane at a UK factory.

Investigation by Britain’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the electrician had been able to work on a platform in the path of an overhead crane without the power to the crane first being switched off. Preston Crown Court heard that the platform, which was around four metres above the ground, had been installed for a specific project in September 2000. End stops had previously been fitted to the rails used by the overhead crane that stopped the crane reaching the platform, but these had later been removed. The platform had remained at the factory but there was no barrier at the bottom of the access ladder to prevent workers climbing up it while the crane was in use.

On the day of the incident, the electrician had been trying to replace a cable, which hangs down from the crane to a handheld control, after it had developed an intermittent fault. The crane had been moved over the platform so he could reach the top of the cable where it connects to a junction box on the crane. As he climbed onto the platform, the crane moved and he was crushed between the guard rails around the top of the ladder and the crane itself.

The HSE investigation found the crane cleared the top of the guard rails around the ladder and platform by just 8.5cm. Despite this, the company had not identified the risk of workers being crushed by the crane if they used the platform so no action had been taken to stop this from happening.

Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”

The HSE Press Release is here.

Roofing Bitumen Burns Fine

One person required skin grafts on both hands and a foot, and also had burns on her head and face. A second person received burns to his chest, forehead, face, lips and under his right arm. Both needed extensive hospital treatment.

Injuries resulted from splashes and scalds by hot bitumen when a roofer’s ladder slipped because it wasn’t properly secured.

Redhill Magistrates’ Court heard the self-employed roofer had been contracted to felt a flat roof and was using bitumen that he melted at ground level before it was transported up a ladder. He and a colleague had already climbed the ladder several times without incident, but it slipped just as the persons approached the workers to ask if they wanted a cup of tea. The bucket fell and the bitumen spilled directly on top of them.

Investigation by Britain’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the ladder had not been secured to prevent a slip. It was also in a poor condition, with missing or badly worn rubber feet. The court was told that insufficient measures were taken to prevent the slip and spill, and that it was a wholly unnecessary incident.

After the hearing, the HSE Inspector said: “Extreme caution must be taken at all times when working with bitumen because it can be incredibly harmful. The roofer didn’t take extreme care. He was using a ladder with clearly visible defects that wasn’t properly secured, and they sustained horrific burns as a result. Members of the public must be kept out of harm’s way when dangerous materials are being used. The ladder issues aside, the incident could also have been avoided had they been told to stay at a safe distance.”

The HSE Press Release is here.

Electricity at Work Safety Failings Fine

An electrical company is fined in Scotland (November 22nd) for safety failings after a worker suffered burns to his face, hands and arms while carrying out live electrical testing at an electricity substation located at the premises of a manufacturing company. The worker, who was not wearing the correct protective equipment supplied to him, was thrown off the stepladder following an electrical flashover but was able to walk out of the substation unaided.

The investigation by Britain’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) concluded the company had failed to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment for the task of removing and replacing the bolted covers while the distribution boards were live, and had also failed to have in place a safe system of work by failing to ensure that the electricity supply to the distribution boards was de-energised during removal and replacement of the covers.

In Scotland the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service has sole responsibility for the raising of criminal proceedings for breaches of health and safety legislation.

Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”

The HSE Press Release is here.

Another Work at Height Fatality

A healthcare firm is fined £170,000 and ordered to pay a further £82,145 in prosecution costs on 22 November 2013 for serious safety failings following the death of a worker who fell nearly six metres from scaffolding.

TRU Ltd, which was in charge of the construction site, was prosecuted by Britain’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found the scaffolding was dangerous.This was due in particular to a lack of guard rails and inadequate decking. In addition, TRU Ltd’s site employees were not trained in safety, there were no risk assessments and there were no method statements.

During a five-day trial at Liverpool Crown Court, the jury heard that TRU specialises in providing rehabilitation for people with brain injuries, but that it also took on some building projects. The self-employed joiner had been working on the roof trusses for the extension to the house when he fell from the scaffolding. He suffered critical head injuries and died in hospital the following day.

TRU Ltd, which now trades as TRU (Transitional Rehabilitation Unit) Ltd, was found guilty of two separate breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”

Section 3(1) of the Act states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”

The HSE Press Release is here.

Windfarm Settlement (US)

Duke Energy agreed in November to pay $1 million in fines as part of the federal Justice Department’s first criminal case against a wind power company for the deaths of protected birds.

The report in the New York Times identifies it is Duke Energy’s subsidiary, Duke Energy Renewables, that has pleaded guilty in the Federal District Court in Wyoming to violating the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The company was charged with killing 14 golden eagles and dozens of other birds at two wind projects in Wyoming since 2009.

Per the New York Times – in the plea agreement, the company said it would pay the fines to several conservation groups, including the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. It also must put in place a plan to prevent bird deaths in future.

“In this plea agreement, Duke Energy Renewables acknowledges that it constructed these wind projects in a manner it knew beforehand would likely result in avian deaths,” Robert G. Dreher, the acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s environment and natural resources division, said in a statement.

Safe Systems of Work Fine

A worker suffered severe crush injuries when he was hit by a falling excavator bucket on his first day of work at a demolition site.

The worker, who was 46 when the incident happened, lost his left eye and part of his scalp. He also broke his eye socket, cheekbone, jaw, nose, left collarbone, several ribs and his left leg. In addition, the incident punctured a lung and severed the nerves on his bottom lip. He was in a coma for two weeks and had to have a tracheotomy to help him breathe. He also needed extensive reconstructive surgery, is still receiving medical treatment, and will continue to require pain relief.

An investigation by Britain’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the demolition company had no safe systems of work in place and had not given the worker adequate information, instruction, training or supervision including adequate warnings of the hazards involved when working around plant.

Nottingham Crown Court was told that employees should have been excluded from the area while the bucket was being re-attached and a safety pin used to secure it in place.

Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”

Section 7(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employee while at work to take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and of other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work.”

The HSE Press Release is here.

Another Work at Height Safety Fine

A construction firm and its managing director were fined (21st November) for safety failings after a labourer fell more than four metres through a fragile barn roof, breaking his back on his first day working for the company. As well as fracturing two vertebrae in his lower back, requiring a brace to be worn for two months, he suffered a broken wrist which had to be pinned and a bruised heel. He returned to work after six months but no longer works in construction, and has been left with some restricted movement in his wrist.

Leamington Spa Magistrates Court was told the company and its managing director were aware the roof was fragile and verbally warned employees to be careful, but did not ensure that the job was properly planned or carried out safely.

Britain’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found equipment provided for accessing and working on the fragile roof was not suitable, and four employees were working unsafely using single scaffold boards and crawl boards without guardrails or harnesses, and at times stepping on the roof itself. No guardrails were in place around the roof perimeter to prevent falls from the edge, and no measures to mitigate the consequences of a fall through the fragile roof were in use, such as fall arrest harnesses, netting, or soft landing systems. In addition, the injured man and another colleague were both working for the firm for the first time that day but neither had been given proper instruction or training for working at height.

HSE’s Press Release is here.

Work at Height Fatality

I posted earlier on Work at Height injuries and company fines.

Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: “Every employer shall ensure that work at height is (a) properly planned; (b) appropriately supervised; and (c) carried out in a manner which is so far as is reasonably practicable safe, . and that its planning includes the selection of work equipment.”

Regulation 6(3) states: “Where work is carried out at height, every employer shall take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury.”

Now a roofer has fallen to his death from an unsuitable and badly maintained ladder.

Aylesbury Crown Court (November 21st) heard that the self-employed roofer who was sub-contracted to a roofing firm on an ad-hoc basis, was working at the rear of a domestic property to install weatherproof eaves protectors. He accessed the roofline using a two-part extension ladder that was footed by the company director, who was also a close family friend. The exact circumstances of how he came to fall are unclear, but he evidently slipped after failing to maintain a secure contact with the ladder and the building as he tried to work.

Thames Valley Police attended the scene before Britain’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was notified three days later. HSE’s investigation established that the choice of extension ladder was inappropriate, and that a more rigid system, such as a tower scaffold, should have been used instead.

After the hearing, the HSE Inspector said: “All work at height has to be properly planned and managed, and there were clear failings with the equipment used by Milton Keynes Roofing Ltd. Even short duration tasks need planning and foresight, and it is evident that had more appropriate equipment been provided then Mr Rowe’s tragic death could have been avoided. We were unable to find a direct link between the state of the ladder and his fall, but I also hope this case underlines the need to ensure that work equipment is properly maintained and fit for purpose.”

The HSE Press Release is here.

Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) PCB Fines (US)

Enforcement action by federal US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) inspectors results in civil penalties (fines) for failure to manage PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls) at recycling sites properly in line with the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

In the last two years the USEPA has inspected and taken enforcement action against all three PCB electrical transformer recycling facilities in the Pacific Southwest regarding improper management.

The action settled in October is here.

The action settled in May is here.

USEPA information on PCBs is here – PCBs are man-made organic chemicals used in paints, industrial equipment, plastics, and cooling oil for electrical transformers. More than 1.5 billion pounds of PCBs were manufactured in the US before the USEPA banned the production of this chemical class in 1978, and many PCB-containing materials are still in use today. When released into the environment, PCBs remain for decades. Tests have shown that PCBs cause cancer in animals and are suspected carcinogens in humans. Acute PCB exposure can also adversely affect the nervous, immune, and endocrine systems as well as liver function. Concerns about human health and the extensive presence and lengthy persistence of PCBs in the environment led Congress to enact TSCA in 1976.