15 August, 2019
HSE inspectors are currently visiting high-risk businesses to assess how employers are controlling exposure to dust. They are likely to focus on construction sites, woodwork businesses and food manufacturers. Such industries often produce high levels of dust, which can be harmful to the health of employees if not correctly controlled.
Employers will need to demonstrate that they have assessed the risk of dust, and controlled the risk by looking at different ways of stopping or reducing the amount of dust created. If employers are found not to have the necessary controls in place then they may face enforcement action from the HSE.
A mother was pushing her three old daughter in a pram past scaffolding which had been erected on the pavement. Tragically, a piece of timber fell from scaffolding and landed on the child's head. It is understood that the girl suffered life-changing injuries and is still recovering from the effects of the incident.
The HSE has reported the self-employed builder pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 8 (1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. He was sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, plus 220 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to repay full costs of £5727.92.
According to the HSE, the builder who was in control of the works had used an unsuitable knot for the pulley system he was using to lift the timber to the upper floor. As a result, the timber slipped out, and fell hitting the child. There was also no exclusion zone in place to prevent persons being underneath the load, in case of such a problem.
Once again, this is yet another example of a tragic accident, which could have been easily avoided by the builder taking basic steps such as implementing an exclusion zone around the scaffolding. The HSE will seek enforcement action including imprisonment when members of the public are put at risk.
In another tragic case involving a child, an electric gate company has been fined after a six-year-old boy was fatally crushed whilst playing on an electric sliding gate. It has been reported that the boy was playing with his friend on the gate of an underground car park in Leeds. He pushed the gate beyond the retaining mechanism and as no end stop had been fitted, the gate fell over and crushed the boy.
The electric gate company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £12,411.46.
According to the investigation carried out by the HSE, the electric gate company failed to install the end step when the gate was fitted and sadly, no one had noticed that it was missing during the subsequent six years following installation.
Accidents involving electric gates are a frequent occurrence. In this instance, the HSE inspector Julian Franklin suggested that the accident could have been avoided by a "commissioning check before handing the gate over to the building occupier."
Information and guidance for safety on the design, construction, supply, and use, inspection, examination and maintenance of powered gates can be found on the HSE website here.
A construction company has been fined after failing to ensure that a building site under its control had measures in place to ensure the safety and welfare of those working on the construction site.
According to the HSE, an investigation found that workers were working in "an unsafe manner without the appropriate measures in place to ensure their health, safety and welfare". It is stated in the Enforcement Notice that operatives were put at risk of serious personal injury for many reasons, including: openings in the floor, open excavations, structural stability issues and an unsafe staircase.
Navkaar Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. The company was fined £35,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,860.
The principal contractor, which in this instance was the construction company, has a duty to ensure that work on site is planned, managed, monitored and coordinated. Where suitable measures are not in place, and workers are put at risk, then the HSE will take enforcement action. Further details relating to the roles and responsibilities on Principal contractors as set out in the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 can be found here.