Peace of Mind in The Workplace

Mark Needham

H&S Advisor




Court Cases  

Risk assessmentFailure to maintain a safe system of work: A Port Talbot glass factory worker suffered a fractured skull, the loss of sight in one eye, and needed major reconstructive surgery on his face after falling into a skip whilst disposing of waste glass (carried by a forklift truck), then having a 10mm-thick toughened glass pane crash down on top of him. His firm admitted to not having a safe system of work in place for that particular job, nor any risk assessment carried out. Swansea Crown Court fined the company £50,000 and ordered it to pay costs of £11,171.

Failing to segregate pedestrians and vehicles: An employee killed by a reversing skip lorry led to a West Midlands' scrap metal and recycling company pleading guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974 for failing to ensure the safety of its employees by having in place adequate controls to prevent pedestrians being struck by moving vehicles. The company was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £55,000 costs.

Failing to prevent or control exposure of employees to hazardous substances: A Newfield, County Durham, brick and tile manufacturer pleaded guilty to a breach of COSHH Regulations 2002 by exposing its employees to hazardous metal fumes from hot cutting galvanised steel. Bishop Auckland magistrates, who heard that the company had failed to carry out a risk assessment, and not provided employees with adequate ventilation or respiratory protective equipment (RPE), fined them a total of £2000 plus £8517 costs.

Failing to safeguard against slips, trips and falls: A fast-food chain received a fine of £20,000 after an employee slipped on a piece of cardboard (set down beneath a machine to soak up leaks) and submerged her arm in scalding oil. She later required reconstructive surgery for her injuries. The company pleaded guilty to four offences under the HSWA 1974, The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER)1998, and The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR)1999. They were also ordered to pay costs of £18,880.

Failing in duty of care to young workers: The owner of a south Wales roofing company was jailed for 10 months after pleading guilty to a charge of manslaughter after a 17-year-old employee fell nine metres to his death through a rooflight. Despite the building having fragile rooflights, none had not been identified as posing a risk.

Risk assessmentFailure to ensure the safety of employees: A machinery manufacturing company was fined £7500 plus £16,000 costs after an experienced machine operator had his arm amputated when he was dragged into a moving CNC lathe. The company had failed to recognise risks involving the setting-up operation.

Failure to protect those not in a company's employment: A UK DIY giant was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £8405 costs when a spa pool displayed at a Bristol store was found to contain contaminated water which could have exposed visitors to Legionnaires' disease. Inadequate risk assessment, insufficient monitoring for bacteria and a lack of proper cleaning and disinfection all played their part, according to health inspectors.

Failing to guard machinery: Trafford magistrates fined a Manchester tiles company £18,000 after an employee lost the tip of his finger in an unguarded conveyor. The maintenance engineer was making adjustments to the machine when it suddenly started, pulling his finger into a roller. The company was also ordered to pay partial costs of £7500.

Failure to monitor the wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE): Bromsgrove and Redditch magistrates fined a quarry products company £5000 with £3250 costs after a worker was struck on the head by a boulder falling from a screening machine. The worker, who wasn't wearing a hard hat when the 30kg object hit him, sustained a fractured skull and blood clots to the brain. The court heard there was no system to monitor the wearing of hard hats.

Failure to maintain a safe system of work: A contracts manager was given a £7500 fine with £15,000 costs at Minshull Street Crown Court after it was disclosed he had deliberately left out safety components on scaffolding, leading to a 17-year-old employee falling 18 metres to his death from an unsafe structure.

Failure to provide adequate training: An employee who fell six-feet from a stepladder, sustaining serious back injury, cost a Leicester dust control company a fine of £5000 and £5147 costs. The firm pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of HSWA 1974 by failing to offer adequate training in working at height, and failing to carry out a suitable risk assessment.

Failing to re-assess risks following changes to procedures: A company was fined £350,000 plus £60,000 costs after an explosion at its Brantham factory left a worker with 45% burns. Despite the safety data sheet clearly stating the risks involved, the employee blew hot air over water-wetted nitrocellulose to dry it out before adding methylated spirit to the dry mix, causing it to explode. Chelmsford Crown Court was told the incident would have been prevented had the company re-assessed the change to procedure and taken straightforward safety precautions.

Failure to ensure the safety of sub-contractors: A North Yorkshire construction company was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £2321 costs when a sub-contracted groundworker laying hardcore for roads suffered serious leg injuries after an excavator ran over him. HSE blamed a lack of adequate traffic management on the site.

Failure to take appropriate measures to safeguard persons working in proximity to underground cables: An East Yorkshire construction firm pleaded guilty to breaching reg.3(1) of MHSWR 1999 and reg.14 of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 after a driver working on a North Ferriby construction site received a severe electric shock from hidden live underground cabling. Beverley magistrates were told plans were available showing their location but were not requested as part of a safe system of work. The company was fined £4000 plus £1616 costs.

(Source: Safety & Health Practitioner)


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