17 October, 2019
The HSE has reported that a borough council has been fined for exposing seven of its grounds maintenance workers to Hand Arm Vibration (HAVS), caused by excessive use of power tools.
The council pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5 of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 after the HSE investigation revealed that the council had not trained its employees or educated them on the possible risks to their health from using the equipment. It was also noted that the council had failed to limit exposure to vibration or put in place suitable health surveillance to identify possible problems.
The council was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £28,672.62.
Employers are required to provide health surveillance to employees who are likely to be exposed to the risk of contracting HAVS. Health surveillance is a crucial tool to allow employers to identify and act upon possible issues at an early stage.
A grandmother and her grandson received serious injuries after a tree fell on the pair as they walked along a road. The tree was being felled by chainsaw with the assistance of a winch. Instead of it falling in the expected direction, it twisted out of control and fell onto the lane. The tree came to rest on the site boundary wall and a security gate on the other side of the lane. The woman was knocked unconscious and her four-year-old grandson received minor head injuries.
An investigation by the HSE found that "the characteristics of the particular tree were not properly assessed prior to felling and the tree did not fall in the intended direction. The method used for felling this size and shape of tree was not the correct one. A different method was needed because of its shape and angle of lean". It was also noted that "Site supervision was also inadequate. The work on the day of the incident was poorly organised and effective measures had not been taken to prevent members of the public entering the danger zone".
Sheffield Countryside Conservation Trust pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The trust has been fined £3,000.00 and ordered to pay £1,000.00 in costs.
This accident could have been avoided, a site specific risk assessment would have highlighted the possible risk to members of the public should the tree have fallen in an unexpected manner and would have prompted the need for signs and banksmen to warn members of the public in the vicinity.
An explosion killed two workers and seriously injured another at a steelworks site in Cardiff. The pair were working on an accumulator vessel when it exploded.
A HSE investigation found that the company had failed to assess the risks to which its employees were exposed when draining lubrication oil from the accumulator. The process had developed through the Company employees' local custom and practice; and it was reported that "this "procedure" was not fully understood or consistently carried out by the Company's employees, exposing them to the risk of explosion".
Celsa Manufacturing (UK) Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and have been fined £1.8m and ordered to pay costs of £145,771.85.
The level of the fine imposed reflects the seriousness of the failings. Despite the possible risk of an explosion and the resulting catastrophic consequences, the company had not carried out a risk assessment. The HSE investigator, Lee Schilling, described the incident as "entirely preventable".