Archive for January, 2014

Large fine for Stockport manufacturer

A company in Stockport, which manufactures chains for conveyor belts, escalators and forklift trucks, has been fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £12,696 after an incident at its premises left a 54 year-old worker with a badly mangled hand.

David Taylor, working at Renold Power Transmission Ltd, had been operating an overhead crane to lift equipment weighing nearly 300kg using straps that had already been placed around it. As he moved the crane with a badly-labelled control, the equipment slipped out of the straps and began to fall towards him. Mr Taylor raised his left hand to protect himself but his hand became caught in one of the straps and was pulled into the crane's hook.

Manchester Crown Court heard that no lifting chains were available on the day, despite the fact that the company actually manufactures them.

As a result of the incident, Mr Taylor has lost half his thumb, the tip of his index finger, two thirds of his middle finger and ring finger, and all of the little finger on the left hand. As Mr Taylor explained, the injuries are preventing him from carrying out simple tasks such as getting dressed.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the company has not produced a written risk assessment for the work and there was not a safe system of work in place. In addition, even though he had been at the company for nearly three months, Mr Taylor had not received any formal training to use the crane.

HSE inspector Ian Betley said, “One of Renold’s employees has suffered severe injuries to his left hand that will affect him for the rest of his life due to the company’s poor safety system for using the crane. It’s shocking that the chains produced by the company weren’t even available on the day of the incident for use by its own employees. Instead, David had to use an unchoked sling to lift a heavy tool, which led to him being badly injured.

“If the tool had been properly secured before being lifted then his injuries could have been avoided.”

Mr Taylor sent out a plea to the manufacturing industry, “I just hope manufacturers improve their health and safety systems so that what happened to me doesn’t happen to anyone else. They need to listen to their employees’ concerns and make sure they provide the correct equipment for the job.”

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HSENI target farm safety

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) wants 2014 to be the safest ever year for farmers. Whilst attitudes towards farm safety are becoming more positive, more needs to be done to address a culture of risk-taking that exists within the farming community.

HSENI's Chief Executive, Keith Morrison, said, “Tragically, there were four confirmed farming fatalities during 2013 and while statistically this represents a welcome decrease from 12 deaths in both 2012 and 2011, these are four deaths too many, causing heartache and devastation for the immediate families and the wider farming community. It is clear more work needs to be done and while there is evidence of progress, there is no room for complacency. All of us involved in the farming industry need to increase our efforts so that for 2014, and beyond, safety will be the priority for Northern Ireland’s farmers.”

The HSENI currently carry out farm safety visits, which focus on slurry, animals, falls from height and equipment (SAFE) – four of the main causes of fatalities on farms in Northern Ireland.

It is particularly important that farmer's stay safe at this time of year, especially as severe weather can present the need for urgent repairs but at the same time poses a safety risk. The HSENI are advising that all repairs should be carefully planned using properly constructed platforms rather than ladders. If ladders are to be used, farmers are advised that the ladders must be in good condition and they should make sure they are tied and footed to prevent slipping.

Mr Morrison added, “a follow up to the Farm Safety Partnership’s action plan will launch later this year to outline further key actions to reduce death and serious injury on our farms. In the meantime, programmes like HSENI’s farm safety visits will continue to play an important part in the drive to help farmers take effective steps to improve safety on their farms. I’d urge all farmers to take on board the important safety advice that is on offer.”

For more information, see:

  • INDG427 – Farmwise: Your essential guide to health and safety in agriculture.
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HSE to remain a non-departmental public body

A Government consultation has concluded that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) should remain a non-departmental public body.

The review began in June 2013 as part of the Government’s commitment to review all public bodies every 3 years and was led by the chair of the Engineering Employers Federation (EEF) Martin Temple.

Respondents maintained that the HSE was fulfilling its role as an inspection and enforcement body separate from Government which helps companies implement health and safety.

However, a significant number of comments raised concern over the introduction of the Fee for Intervention regime (FFI) which was implemented in October 2012. The cost recovery regime requires the HSE to recover its costs for carrying out regulatory functions from companies found to be in material breach of health and safety law at a fee of £124 per hour.

According to the report, the introduction of the FFI “is having a negative effect on the relationship between HSE inspectors and the businesses they inspect. In particular, the perception is that HSE inspectors will no longer fulfil the function of providing advice to the businesses they inspect.”

Union Prospect deputy general secretary Garry Graham said, “The review rightly raises concerns about the new FFI model, which links the regulator’s funding to its income from 'fines', calling it a 'dangerous' model that has potentially damaged the HSE’s reputation for acting impartially and independently.”

The report also made recommendations in relation to work-related ill health, noting that the HSE should continue to seek new and innovative ideas for interventions, using varying forms of media in order to reach the relevant audiences.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady welcomed the report's findings adding that it was important to take forward the recommendations in order to provide the HSE with the resources and political backing that it “so desperately” needed.

“The report is supportive of bringing together unions, employers and Government to deal with health and safety issues. We are concerned, however, that the Government's implementation of some of its recommendations could undermine this approach. It is important that unions and employers continue to play an equal role in the way the HSE operates,” she said.

“There was huge support from all those who responded to the review for the work of the HSE as a public body. We believe that, given the scale of injury and illness across UK workplaces, the Government should not undermine the ability of the HSE to meet that challenge.”

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Textile recycler fined

Rajesh Voralia, a textile recycler from Surrey trading as RTS Textile Recyclers, has been fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £3,500 in costs after admitting to breaching the Work at Height Regulations SI 2005/735. The fine came after a passing safety inspector saw two members of staff working dangerously close to the edge of an unprotected roof.

The incident led to a full Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation. They found that Mr Voralia employed 60 people to sort and process unwanted clothing and rags from two premises, and just before the incident that led to the prosecution, a leak had appeared in the roof which was spoiling the rags. The two members of staff then went onto the roof using an unsecured ladder with damaged rungs, worn feet and which only projected 20cm above the roof.

The passing inspector, who is a HSE official, immediately halted the work by serving a prohibition notice; the two members of staff were working on the roof with no measures in place to prevent falls. Mr Voralia said that he was not aware that the two men were on the roof.

HSE inspector Jane Wolfenden said, “Mr Voralia told the HSE there was no work at height taking place in the unit despite the fact that there was a ladder available and that the unit had a mezzanine floor. Whilst there was no actual injury in this case, the risk of serious injury or death from falls during roof work is high and Mr Voralia could have easily prevented such work by removing access equipment and issuing a blanket instruction to his staff not to go on the roof.”

She added “Falls from or through roofs and fragile roof-lights can be easily prevented by careful planning, and use of experienced workers and the right equipment. Work at height is inherently fraught with risk and falls remain the single biggest cause of deaths and serious injury.”

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Regulation (EU) 1317/2013 (OJ:L339/1/2013) amending Annexes 2, 3 and 5 to Regulation (EC) 396/2005 as regards maximum residue levels for 2,4-D, beflubutamid, cyclanilide, diniconazole, florasulam, metolachlor and S-metolachlor, and milbemectin in or on certain products

This Regulation amends Annexes 2, 3 and 5 to Regulation (EC) 396/2005, on maximum residue levels of pesticides in or on food and feed of plant and animal origin, as regards maximum residue levels for:

metolachlor and S-metolachlor; and

in or on certain products.
Revocations and amendments
This Regulation amends:

Regulation (EC) 396/2005, on maximum…

Details on this legislative text is provided by Cedrec. Please click here to see the summary.

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Consultation on the Planning (Hazardous Substances) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2014

Details on this legislative text is provided by Cedrec. Please click here to see the summary.

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Secret NI radioactive dumps

Previously confidential government files have been released which show that between 1977 and 1982 radioactive waste was secretly disposed of in Belfast and Londonderry.

According to the documents, controlled burials of hospital and university waste with a short half-life were undertaken, but it appears very few knew about it.

The total activity disposed of at the site in Belfast, at Duncrue Street, was approximately 180 millicuries, a large amount of which consisted of radioactive iodine with a half-life of less than two months. At Culmore Point in Derry, two consignments of hospital waste had been disposed of with a total activity of around 170 microcuries.

The Environment Minister for Northern Ireland, Mark Durkan, said that he had no idea about the waste and said an investigation would now be launched. Mr Durkan said, “I have already instructed the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) to carry out a full investigation of the sites mentioned in these papers to ascertain as to whether or not there is any risk posed, but I also want a historic check done as to what information, if any, was given to local authorities at that time to allow them to monitor the sites, indeed to ensure that they were safe and there was no risk to health and most importantly, that there is no risk to health.”

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Consultation on proposals for the consolidation of petroleum legislation

Details on this legislative text is provided by Cedrec. Please click here to see the summary.

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HSE aims for improvement

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is encouraging businesses in 2014 to focus more on their legal responsibilities to make sure that lives are not put at risk and that the safety of workers is made a priority.

Statistics published in 2013 indicated that overall, workplace fatalities and major injuries in Great Britain were decreasing. There were 171 fewer deaths at work in 2012/2013 than 2011/2012, and 2,387 fewer major injuries. However, improvements must be made if workplace fatalities and injuries are to be stopped.

Steve Smith, HSE Head of Operations for the North East, which was a region that saw a decrease in both workplace deaths and major injuries, said, “The families of those workers in the North East who lost their lives last year had to face Christmas without them and hundreds of other workers have had their lives changed forever by a major injury. Whilst the number of workplace deaths and major injuries has decreased nationally, these statistics highlight why we still need good health and safety in workplaces. I therefore urge employers to spend their time tackling the real dangers that workers face and stop worrying about trivial matters or pointless paperwork.”

Mr Smith also sent out a clear message for employers, “It’s important to remember that while we still have one of the lowest rates of workplace deaths in Europe, one death is still one too many. I would urge businesses to focus on helping to cut the number of deaths further in 2014.”

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Asbestos ACOPs amended

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has amended its asbestos guidance in order to help businesses understand how to work safely with asbestos. As a result of the changes:

  • L127 – The management of asbestos in non-domestic premises; and
  • L143 – Work with materials containing asbestos,

have been consolidated into one new edition of L143, which has a new title of “Managing and working with asbestos”.

The new ACOP has been designed to help businesses and employers understand and meet their legal obligations. It reflects the changes introduced in the Control of Asbestos Regulations SI 2012/632 on the notification of non-licensed work with asbestos and consequent arrangements for employee medical examinations and record keeping.

Kären Clayton, Director of the HSE's Long Latency Health Risks Division, said, “The two ACOPs have been updated and brought together to help employers find the information they need quickly and easily and understand how to protect their workers from dangers of working with asbestos. The revised ACOP also provides better clarity on identifying dutyholders for non-domestic premises and the things they must do to comply with the ‘duty to manage’ asbestos.”

This latest change comes as a result of recommendations made by Professor Ragnar Löfstedt.

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