Regulatory update - Feb 2019

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Insurance Article

25 February, 2019

Two companies heavily fined after a girl is killed whilst using a lift in her own home

In August 2015, a five-year-old girl was using an internal lift, which had been fitted in her home for use by her disabled brother. The girl put her head through a hole in the vision panel and as the lift moved upward; her head got stuck between the lift and the ground floor ceiling. She sadly died as a result of her injuries.

Aster Property Limited managed a contract with Orona Limited on behalf of Synergy Housing Limited. Synergy Housing Limited had a contractual agreement with Orona Limited for the maintenance and repair of the lift. Synergy Housing also had an agreement from June 2013 with Aster Property Limited, to arrange the maintenance and repair of lifts and to control the work.

In 2013, one of the Perspex vision panels on the lift was damaged but it was not repaired. An Orona engineer inspected the lift in May 2015 and noted the vision panel was damaged.

According to the HSE, an investigation found 'a catalogue of failures by the three companies'; Synergy Housing had primary responsibility for the safety of the lift at the property; Aster Property was responsible for arranging lift maintenance issues; and Orona was responsible for the relevant lift maintenance and repair work.

The HSE found during the investigation:

  • tenants were not provided with safety critical information concerning the operation of the lift;
  • no risk assessment was carried out following the change of lift user when the Brown family moved in;
  • regular service inspections were not performed, the lift was serviced only four times between 2009 and 2015 and was not thoroughly examined since 2012;
  • when the Perspex vision panel was noted to be damaged on the service inspection it was not fixed or replaced;
  • problems with the emergency lowering and lack of emergency hand winding wheel during the whole of the family's tenancy existed from 2011; and
  • the key switch used to control operation of the lift had been modified from factory installation to allow removal of the key in any position. The switch was in the "on" position with the key removed, and could therefore be operated by anyone at any time.

Synergy Housing Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £1m and ordered to pay costs of £40,000.

Synergy Housing accepted that its duties were not to be delegated and that the failings of Aster Property were part of its breach. The charge against Aster Property Limited was ordered to be left to lie on the court file and was not separately sentenced.

Orona Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and has been fined £533,000 and ordered to pay costs of £40,000.

Forbes comment

This is a tragic example of an avoidable accident. Pursuant to The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER), owners and operators of lifts have a legal responsibility to ensure that lifts are thoroughly examined and are safe to use. In accordance with the HSE guidance, lifts should be thoroughly inspected every six months by a competent person. If a defect or potential defect is noted then the lift should be taken out of service until the fault is rectified. If the lift is not taken out of service then the operator is in breach of the law.


Cladding company fined after worker falls from height

A worker fell from height when using a ladder rested against wet metal wall cladding, which was not tied, or being footed. The ladder slipped, and the worker fell 3 metres to the ground below shattering his elbow as a result of the fall.

GB Industrial Cladding Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 (1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £10,000 with £1,238 costs.

Forbes comment

According to the HSE, falls from height are one of the biggest causes of workplace fatalities and major injuries. The Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR)require employers and those in control of any work at height activity to make sure work is properly planned, supervised and carried out by competent people. Ladders should only be used in situations where they can be used in a safe manner, a ladder should always be level and stable and where possible it should be secured.


Refuse company fined £1m following death of worker

An employee was walking across the yard when he was hit by a reversing collection vehicle ("RCV") and tragically killed. An investigation by the HSE found that RCVs and articulated lorries were manoeuvring around the yard with no specific controls.

Veolia ES (UK) Limited was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and has been fined £1 million and ordered to pay costs of £130,000.

Forbes comment

According to the HSE, every year about 50 people are killed and more than 5000 people are injured in accidents involving workplace transport (www.hse.gov.uk/statistics). Reversing vehicles are a common cause of workplace accidents. The HSE recommends removing the need for reversing altogether, by setting up one-way systems. Where reversing is unavoidable, routes should be organised to minimise the need for reversing.


HSE Updates Bouncy Castles Safety Advice

Following several recent accidents involving bouncy castles, the HSE has updated its safety advice. The guidance "Bouncy castles and other play inflatables: safety advice" has been specifically revised in response to incidents where inflatables have collapsed or blown away in windy conditions.

The guidance stresses the importance of wind checks and suitable anchorage points. When placed outdoors, operators are advised to use an anemometer to measure wind conditions at regular intervals, and visually check for changes in wind direction (such as looking at how the trees are swaying).

Forbes comment

Health and safety law applies to the supply, hire and use of inflatables for commercial purposes. The HSE advises operators to ensure compliance with the standard BS EN 14960 and to operate all inflatable play equipment in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions and by suitably trained persons.

For more information contact Ridwaan Omar in our Insurance department via email or phone on 01254 222457. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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