Arinite Health and Safety Consultants 2016 ReviewCategory: Health & Safety | Bryan Richards | Published on: Dec 21, 2016 | Updated: May 22, 2017 Read more: Health & Safety
2016 has been another year of breaking H&S news. Perhaps the most striking was the £5 million fine for the Smiler Roller Coaster accident, which occurred in June 2015 and the 1.6 million fine for the injury to Harrison Ford in making Star Wars in 2014.
These cases brought Health and Safety starkly into the main public news. It was not just
the level of fines (increased because of the new sentencing guidelines), it was the nature of the injuries in industries which the public can easily relate to.
In both cases, the events could have easily been prevented.
This emphasises there is an ongoing need for employers to devote time and effort to assessing risk and implementing and monitoring preventive measures.
Here is Arinite’s selection of the health and safety news from 2016…
1.1 ISO 45001 draft issued for comment
The long-awaited draft international standard of ISO 45001 was published. ISO 45001 was expected to be completed and published in October 2016, but this is now expected to be in the latter half of 2017. It will replace BS OHSAS 18001 and have a greater emphasis on leadership, worker involvement, context and documented information, following the common high-level structure for management systems standards that also applies to the revised versions of the ISO 9001 (quality) and ISO 14001 (environmental) standards.
1.2 Port operator fined £1.8 million after worker injured by capstan
An Essex maritime terminal worker suffered serious injury after his arm became wrapped around a powered capstan, while mooring an ocean-going vessel. Basildon Crown Court imposed a fine of £1.8 million on port operator CRO Ports London Limited, after the company pleaded guilty to safety offences that contributed to the incident.
1.3 UK Power Networks fined £1million after runner electrocuted
A company which maintains the power distribution supplies to London, the South East and East of England was fined £1million after a runner was electrocuted by a low-hanging high voltage power cable. The company had been alerted to the situation by walkers on the path, and could have immediately ‘de-energised’ that part of the network, but instead a technician was sent to the scene. Twenty minutes before the technician arrived, Dr James Kew ran into the live conductor and was electrocuted.
2.1 The new sentencing guidelines: is your board prepared?
The new sentencing guidelines for health & safety offences came into force on 1st February 2016. They were intended to increase the level of fines, particularly for larger organisations. However, unintended consequences of the way punishments are now calculated mean that judges have been handing out very much greater fines than expected. There was also the potential to send many more directors, managers and junior employees to jail for breaching health & safety laws.
2.2 Helping Great Britain Work Well: A new health and safety system strategy – 2016
The HSE published a new strategy based on six strategic themes and three key messages (see figure below).
3.1 Prison for construction contractor over fatal trench collapse
A building contractor was jailed for six months after an employee was killed when an unsupported excavation collapsed. The contractor was sentenced at Swansea Crown Court on 11 April. He was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and was given a six month custodial sentence. HSE inspector Phil Nicolle said: “Work in excavations needs to be properly planned, managed and monitored to ensure no one enters an excavation deeper than 1.2 m without adequate controls in place to prevent a collapse.”
3.2 Construction co director jailed for six years
The owner of a construction firm was sentenced to a six-year prison term for gross negligence manslaughter after a worker was killed and another seriously injured at a demolition site. The director of a second company was also jailed for eight months. On the morning of 21 January 2014, a 47-year-old employee fell through one of the skylights onto the concrete floor nine metres below. He sustained fractures to his spine, pelvis, right leg, heel and wrist. At about 4pm the same day, 42-year-old Scott Harrower, another employee, fell through a skylight and sustained fatal head injuries. The company’s owner was jailed for six years, fined £400,000 and ordered to pay £55,000 court costs. The director of the second company was jailed for eight months, fined £90,000 and ordered to pay £45,000 court costs.
4.1 £2 million fine for Travis Perkins after death
Travis Perkins was fined £2 million after the death of a customer in Milton Keynes. Mark John Pointer was crushed by a company vehicle at Travis Perkins Trading Company Limited in Old Wolverton in November 2012. Mr Pointer, 44, was loading planks of wood onto the roof rack of his Land Rover when he fell backwards onto the yard surface. He was then run over by a company vehicle operating in the yard.
5.1 Exploding tyre fatality resulted in £1 million fine
A tyre company in Kent has been sentenced for safety failings after a young worker was killed when a tyre exploded. An HSE investigation into the incident found that the worker, who was employed by Watling Tyre Service Limited of Kent, was working on his own, had not received training and was using inadequate work equipment that was not properly maintained.
5.2 Human after all
This year, the British Standards Institution (BSI) published BS ISO 27500 The Human-centred Organisation. Aimed at corporate board members, the standard explains the values and beliefs that make an organisation human-centred, the significant business and operational benefits that arise and the policies they need to put in place to achieve this. Based on seven pillars:
- Capitalise on individual differences as an organisational strength.
- Make usability and accessibility strategic business objectives.
- Adopt a total systems approach.
- Ensure health, safety and wellbeing are business priorities.
- Value employees and create a meaningful working environment.
- Be open and trustworthy.
- Act in socially responsible ways.
6.1 The Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work Regulations 2016 (CEFAW)
This came into force on 1st July 2016. HSE guidance to the regulations lists the type of workplaces and work equipment that will need to be assessed.
6.2 Is the 9-5 desk job killing you?
A major Lancet study, which looked at one million adults found that sitting for at least eight hours a day could increase the risk of premature death by up to 60 per cent. Now, office workers are being urged to take five minute breaks every hour, as well as exercising at lunchtime and outside of work, as the research says that just one hour’s activity a day was enough to reverse the damage caused by prolonged sitting.
6.3 Pokémon Go: a health and safety concern?
Signs in Finsbury Park Station were put up to tell players to enjoy the game, but not to risk their lives for it by climbing on to the tracks. In Bristol, two children were reported to the British Transport Police after they were spotted playing the game on the railway lines on Sunday. The risks of children (or adults) wandering onto the railway lines while glued to their smartphones obviously presented a high risk. Transport for London refused to comment on the game but they issued regular reminders to commuters to not try to retrieve anything from the tube tracks.
6.4 Tata Steel fined £1.98 million following workers’ injuries
A 26-year-old employee lost two thirds of his left hand and his middle and ring fingers whilst trying to clear a blockage on a steel tube manufacturing line which had unsuitable guarding, and in a separate incident, a 52-year-old team leader lost part of his little finger when his left hand was caught, again in an inadequately guarded machine, whilst he was receiving refresher training. HSE inspector Mark Austin said: “Guarding of dangerous parts of machinery is a fundamental of ensuring workers safety, the HSE will not hesitate to hold those accountable who do not fulfil their legal obligations, especially if that results in someone receiving life changing injuries.”
7.1 School fined after worker fell from height
In January 2014, a maintenance team at the school was working to replace components on a bay window of a residential flat within the school grounds. A 63-year-old employee was working on the roof of the bay window when his foot got caught and he fell approximately 2.6 metres to the ground below. He was taken to hospital and was found to have suffered injuries including a broken collarbone and chipped vertebrae. Brentwood School Charitable Incorporated Organisation, Brentwood, Essex, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, and was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £1,477 in costs.
7.2 Balfour Beatty set aside £25m for OSH penalties
Infrastructure group Balfour Beatty set aside up to £25 million for safety and health fines in light of the new sentencing guidelines. The sentencing guidelines have elevated penalties for OSH regulatory breaches and corporate manslaughter offences. Since their introduction on 1 February this year, there have been as many £1 million-plus penalties as there were in the previous 20 years. In May, one of the group’s divisions, Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions, was fined £2.6m after an unsupported trench collapsed on a worker, fatally crushing him.
8.1 Company director jailed following second fatality
Company director Kenneth Thelwall, from Enfield, was jailed for 12 months following the death of one of his employees resulting from the overturn of a spider lift during loading. This fatality followed a guilty plea from Mr Thelwall over a separate incident in 2010 when employee Bernard Rowson was crushed to death in a metal gate. Thorn Warehousing Ltd was charged under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act was fined £166,000 and ordered to pay £10,400 costs.
8.2 G4S fined £1.8 million after Legionella failure
G4S Cash Solutions was fined £1.8 million after failing to reduce the risk of Legionnaires’ disease from its water systems. In October 2013, a G4S worker was reported to have contracted Legionnaires’ disease, which causes flu-like symptoms and can, in some cases, lead to life-threatening problems. Harlow Council investigated but environmental health officers were unable to prove that the worker had contracted the disease from the site. However, the council did uncover a serious lack of compliance in maintaining water systems at the workplace.
8.3 Nearly half of workplaces did not have health & safety inspections
Nearly half of UK workplaces have never had a health and safety inspection, including more than 80% of construction workplaces according to a new TUC survey of health and safety representatives. Manufacturing is the only sector in which a majority (57%) of safety reps said there had been an inspection during the past year. In stark comparison, in the hazardous construction industry – where there were 65,000 work-related injuries and 67,000 work related illnesses in 2015 – just one in six (17%) of reps was aware of an inspection in the last year.
8.4 £1million fine following death of lone worker
A manufacturing company based in Hemel Hempstead was fined £1million after a worker was crushed to death by falling machinery. Colin Reddish, 48, from Lincolnshire was involved in moving a large CNC milling machine within the company’s Grantham factory on 30 April 2015, when it overturned, crushing him fatally. The machine had been lifted using jacks and placed onto skates to give Mr Reddish access to use an angle grinder to cut and remove the bolts that had secured it to the floor. He was working alone at the time of the incident.
8.5 London Led the World in Construction Health and Safety
While construction will always be a high-risk profession, Health and Safety in the UK’s Capital was second to none. Statistics released by the Health and Safety Executive confirmed what the construction industry has intuitively known for some time – that London is leading the world in the implementation of Health and Safety practices. The HSE added that to maintain a robust safety culture in construction, several factors need to be continually addressed including: risk assessment, safety signs, fire safety, H&S training, and H&S site inspections.
8.6 Network Rail fined £4million after level crossing death
Network Rail was fined £4million after a former film actress was hit by a train on a level crossing. Brenda McFarland, known as Olive, was using the crossing in Suffolk in August 2011, when a train travelling from London to Norwich hit her. The Office of Rail and Road Investigation found that Network Rail had failed to act on substantial evidence that pedestrians had poor visibility of trains when approaching the Gipsy Lane crossing in Needham Market, and were exposed to an increased risk of being struck by a train.
8.7 Flawed work system led Alton Towers operator to £5 million fine
Alton Towers amusement park operator Merlin Attractions Operations was fined £5m for the Smiler rollercoaster crash that injured 16 people, five of them seriously. The fine is the third highest UK fine for a safety offence. Neil Craig, head of operations for the HSE in the Midlands, said: “This avoidable incident happened because Merlin failed to put in place systems to allow engineers to work safely on the ride while it was running. This made it all too easy for a whole series of unchecked mistakes, not just one push of a button, to result in tragic consequences”.
9.1 Workplace stress reached record levels, says TUC
Stress in the workplace was the biggest hazard for UK workforces, according to a study published by the Trades Union Congress (TUC). The TUC biennial survey of more than 1,000 health and safety reps around the UK asked the reps to pick out the hazards at work that trouble them and their workforces the most. This year, stress topped the list, with 70% of respondents citing it as a problem, a higher proportion than in any previous TUC study.
9.2 Star Wars film maker fined £1.6 million for injuring Harrison Ford
Mr Ford suffered a broken leg and deep lacerations when he was knocked off his feet and pinned to the floor of the Millennium Falcon set, as a prop door closed on him. HSE’s investigation found that there was no automatic emergency cut off, to protect those on set, instead relying on the reactions of the prop operator(s) to bring the door to a stop. The HSE inspector said: “This incident was foreseeable and preventable and could have resulted in more serious injury or even death. The power and speed of the door was such that, had Mr Ford or anyone else had been struck on the head by the door as it closed, they might easily have been killed. It was only the almost instantaneous actions of the prop operator in hitting the emergency stop that prevented the door from continuing to press down on Mr Ford as he lay on the floor. I think everyone would accept that all the people who work in the film industry have a right to know that the risks they take to entertain us, including when making action movies, are properly managed and controlled.”
10.1 The number of Director Safety Prosecutions tripled
The number of company directors prosecuted for safety and health offences more than tripled in a year, according to data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Figures show that the HSE prosecuted 46 company directors and senior managers in the 12 months to 31 March 2016, compared with 15 in the previous 12 months. In contrast, the number of employees prosecuted by the HSE dropped from ten last year to one in 2015-16.
10.2 Managers wanted more training on mental illness, survey finds
According to the charity’s Mental Health at Work Report 2016, 49% of line mangers would find even basic training in common mental health problems useful and 38% would appreciate training on how to talk to employees about wellbeing. The findings were from Business in the Community’s National Employee Mental Wellbeing survey. Participants who were currently in employment, from front line workers to directors and senior managers, took part via a YouGov panel survey (3,036 respondents) and a public open survey (16,246 respondents).
10.3 A lorry driver had signed mobile phone declaration hours before crash
Tomasz Kroker was driving on the northbound carriageway on 10 August 2016 when he drove into the back of the stationary queue of vehicles at approximately 50 mph. Tracey Houghton, aged 45, from Bedfordshire, her two sons, Josh Houghton (11) and Ethan Houghton (13), and her partner’s daughter Aimee Goldsmith (11), who were all travelling in the same vehicle, died at the scene. A further five people were injured including one man who was airlifted to hospital with life-threatening injuries. It was revealed in court that the distracted lorry driver had signed a form on the same day as the crash stating ‘I will never use a hand-held mobile phone or hands-free kit whilst driving’. “The sentence of 10 years in prison will not ease our pain and suffering, nor do we believe it will send a strong enough message to those who lack the self-restraint to not use their mobile phones whilst driving.
10.4 £3m fine after toxic vapour cloud kills worker
A chemical company was fined over £3 million after a worker was killed when overcome by a toxic vapour cloud. The incident occurred in March 2010 at Cristal Pigment UK Limited in Grimsby, when there was a build-up of Titanium Tetrachloride, a highly volatile compound, within a vessel. HSE inspector Brian Fotheringham commented: “The incident of 5 March 2010 caused the death of one employee and life changing injuries to another. Had the wind been blowing in the opposite direction it could also have caused a local disaster. However, the company still did not learn lessons from the 2010 incident and had another significant release of the same toxic gas just over a year later. This case must act as a reminder to the industry that there can be no room for complacency when dealing with such dangerous chemicals.”
10.5 Artificial intelligence: Implications for Workplaces?
Helen Beers from the HSE Laboratory researched the impact of AI and machine learning on occupational safety and health. Did AI present opportunity or danger? Would machines take all the jobs or create more than they destroy? Opinions on this were divided, and the reality is likely to be somewhere in between the two extremes. AI will continue to change the world of work, and workers will need to engage in life-long learning, developing their skills and changing jobs more often than they did in the past.
11.1 Councils settled £10m in school asbestos claims in past decade
Councils in England have paid out at least £10m in compensation to people who developed illnesses because of asbestos in school buildings, the BBC reported, after it obtained figures that show that in the past decade 32 councils have settled claims from former teachers, school staff or pupils. The National Union of Teachers says up to 300 adults die each year because of exposure to asbestos while at school. The government said it was investing £23bn to improve school buildings, but campaigners warned that the presence of asbestos in schools continued to put pupils lives at risk.
11.2 London Underground fined £500,000 after fall in disused station
London Underground was fined £500,000 after a worker fell 9.5m from a tower scaffold. The maintenance worker was cleaning a former lift shaft in a disused station at South Kentish Town when they fell nearly ten metres. The worker suffered several injuries and had to spend ten days in hospital.
11.3 Extraordinary case showed the impact of sentencing penalties
In an extraordinary case, a Burger King franchisee received fines totalling £166,600 for two identical breaches, with one fine totalling £153,360 and the other totalling £13,300. Due to the introduction of the sentencing penalties, the two fines were so different in value because one breach related to an offence on, or after, March 12 2015 and carried an unlimited fine, and the second breach related to before March 12 2015 and carried a maximum fine of £20,000.
Well that’s it for 2016. I hope you have found my blogs interesting and I look forward to writing more in 2017.
The Arinite Team would like to wish you all a prosperous New Year. It has been a busy and exciting year for Arinite and we look forward to more partnerships with some of you in 2017.Contact us
In 2016, I have been pleased with the positive feedback from our clients. They appreciate Arinite health and safety consultants provide practical, no-nonsense advice about what you need to do to establish and maintain a safe and healthy working environment.
If you need to call upon our expert assistance, or just for an informal chat, please call me on: mobile 0780 361 2948, office 0207 947 9581, or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bryan Richards 21st December 2016
Arinite Ltd, Warnford Court, 29 Throgmorton Street, London EC2N 2AT