24 March, 2020
A construction firm has been fined £55,620 after a 17-year-old worker fell through an opening for a roof light. The roof light had been covered with a sheet of insulation and the area had been left unmarked and unguarded. The worker suffered multiple broken bones in his right leg, and it was reported that it was unlikely he could work in construction again.
The HSE carried out an investigation and found that "the inexperienced young employee was not supervised properly and was unaware of the risks on site". Furthermore, it was noted that "there were no physical warnings that there was a hole or a fragile surface, and no verbal warning had been circulated to workers on site". The company failed to ensure that work at height was properly planned and appropriately supervised.
Mark Holland Group Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and was fined £55,620.
It was reported by the HSE that despite this incident, the company continued to fail to ensure work at height was planned and managed on site. Numerous failings were identified by the HSE during subsequent visits to the construction site. Where failings have been highlighted by the HSE those responsible must take urgent steps to rectify any contravention or else the relevant persons/company might face further prosecution, increased fines in accordance with the Sentencing Guidelines or even imprisonment.
A gate fabricator has been fined £19,327 after an eight-year-old girl was crushed by a steel gate at a school in London. The girl had been leaving an evening club at the school when the sliding gate fell on her. She suffered multiple fractures to her pelvis as well as internal injuries.
A HSE investigation found that the mechanism in place to prevent the sliding gate from overrunning or falling over was "insufficient if the gate was opened robustly". The girl had opened the gate and it had become disengaged from the rollers holding it up, and the momentum caused it to 'ride over' the stop. With nothing to hold it in position, it fell on the girl.
Metalart Fabrication Limited who designed, manufactured and installed the gate pleaded guilty to breaching Section 6(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £19,327, including full costs of £1,147 and a victim surcharge of £180.
There has been a significant number of injuries in recent years involving children (including some fatalities) as a result of poorly designed, manufactured or installed gates. Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Sarah Whittle said: "The failure to fit suitable end-stops meant that the gate was an accident waiting to happen and could have fallen on anyone at any time with life threatening consequences."
A waste management company has been fined £400,000 after an employee was crushed by a reversing 22.5 tonne shovel loader driven by an on-site contractor. The injured employee was acting as a banksman, assisting a lorry to manoeuvre into a bay while another vehicle reversed out of the bay independently. He was knocked to the ground and driven over. He suffered serious internal injuries and multiple serious fractures, both with significant life changing effects.
The HSE investigation found that the workplace had not been organised in a manner which allowed pedestrians and vehicles to circulate in a safe manner.
Viridor Waste Management Limited was found in breach of Regulation 4(1) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 by virtue of Regulation 17(1). The company was fined £400,000.
It was reported by the HSE that this prosecution is the fourth in four years for this company (two of which related to fatal incidents). The Sentencing Guidelines specifically refer to the failure to make appropriate changes following prior incident(s) exposing risks to health and safety. It is therefore likely that the level of the fine reflects the company's history of prosecutions by the HSE.
Speaking after the case HSE inspector Megan Carr said "This incident is a reminder to the waste and recycling industry as to the importance of good workplace transport control which can often be achieved by simple pragmatic steps to avoid such incidents from occurring. HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards."