02 December, 2020
Each month we review the HSE prosecutions to bring to you cases of interest that might be of relevance to your workplaces. This article focuses on the need for adequate training. We have another on that looks at this month's cases around proper planning of work.
There are 3 cases this month that highlight the need for adequate training and show the consequences that can occur if that has not taken place both with regard to fatal or serious injuries, and even, in the first case where no-one was actually injured, an HSE prosecution still resulted in a substantial fine.
A scaffolding company was fined for safety failings after scaffolding collapsed on to a street in Maidenhead while it was being dismantled.
An investigation was carried out by the Health and Safety Executive following the incident that occurred on the 30 April 2018. It was found that the underlying cause of the scaffold collapse was a lack of training and adequate instruction and the magistrates were told that it could have resulted in serious injury or loss of life.
The worker carrying out the dismantling of the scaffold and removal of the scaffold ties was not adequately trained. Subsequent high winds acting upon the monoflex sheeting on the day of the collapse which then caused the scaffold to act as a "giant sail" and subsequently topple over into the street.
Formula Scaffolding (London) Limited was found guilty of breaching section 3(1) of Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and have been fined £160,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,533.36
After the hearing, HSE inspector John Caboche commented: "This was a very serious incident and it is fortunate nobody was injured as a result of it."
"Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working, ensure that their workforce is adequately trained and provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers in the safe system of working."
Enva Scotland Limited was fined following an incident where a 28-year-old employee, Martin Kane, was fatally injured whilst cleaning a mobile shredder.
In the incident two employees were trying to remove waste that was trapped between a heavy magnet and a hopper on the shredder machine. Mr Kane was struck by the magnet, which fell after he manually removed the locking pins that were keeping the magnet in place. He sustained extensive head injuries and died as a result.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Enva Scotland Limited failed to provide employees engaged in cleaning and using the shredder with adequate training, information and instruction on the deployment of the magnet fitted to the shredder.
They pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and were fined £264,000.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Russell Berry said: "Employers have a duty to provide safe systems of work for their employees and to provide adequate information, instruction and training on those systems of working. It should have been a relatively simple task to clean the shredding machine using the controls on the machine, as it was designed to be self-cleaning."
"On this occasion, the employer failed to ensure Mr Kane had received adequate information, instruction and training regarding the safe operation and methods of cleaning the machine. It led to Mr Kane adopting an unsafe method for moving the magnet whilst trying to clean the machine manually, resulting in this tragic but entirely preventable incident."
A building contractor was fined after an employee suffered serious injuries when the forward tipping dumper truck that he was operating rolled over at a construction site in Windermere, Cumbria.
S M Dixon Building Contractors Ltd had been working on the renovation of a detached property when the dumper truck, removing rubble over uneven ground, overturned resulting in multiple fractures to vertebrae in the worker's back.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the employee had not received adequate training on how to operate the forward tipping dumper truck, including not being clearly instructed to always wear the seat belt when operating the machine. This led to the dumper overturning and the employee being ejected from the dumper and crushed.
S M Dixon Building Contractors Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,087.24.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Michael Griffiths commented: "The injuries sustained by the worker were life changing and he could easily have been killed.
"This incident could have been avoided if measures were in place to ensure the dumper truck was operated safely through the provision of appropriate training and supervision."
These cases highlight the duty on employers and the importance of ensuring that employee's receive appropriate and adequate training whilst carrying out their daily tasks.
Section 2(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA) extends the duty of the employer towards its employees by ensuring that so far is reasonably practicable that they provided "such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary", to ensure the health and safety of their employees. Employees also need to be competent and the employers have a duty to ensure that there are safe systems of in place.
The HSWA has stood the test of time and whilst it has been in force for over 40 years, the general duty encased within the legislation of an employer's duty towards employees is still relevant in today's modern workplace. There are lots of guidance provided by the HSE for different industries and if potential breaches are found by an HSE then organisations and individuals risk facing enforcement action.
Learn more about our Insurance department here