Monday 28 March 2011

Huge fine for vehicle manufacturer for forklift fatality

An automotive-parts manufacturer has been fined £400,000 after an employee was killed during what was supposed to be his last day with the company.

Darren Small, 35, was working as a distribution clerk at Calsonic Kansei UK Ltd’s factory in Llanelli, Wales, when the incident took place, on 17 March 2008, which was meant to be his last day at the company before he took voluntary redundancy. He had gone on to the factory floor to give an instruction to the driver of a reach truck. When the conversation ended the truck driver reversed and accidently struck Mr Small, knocking him to the ground. He suffered serious head injuries and died in hospital three days later.

HSE inspector Stephen Jones told SHP the incident could have been avoided if the firm had procedures in place to separate pedestrians from traffic inside the factory. He explained that Mr Small would not have needed to approach the driver if vehicles had been fitted with two-way radios, or if a safe zone had been created where the driver could have met him to receive instructions. He said: “It's fairly routine for forklift trucks to operate within the same area as pedestrians in this industry. However, working procedures and systems need to be in place to prevent vehicles colliding with people. ”This tragic incident could have been avoided had all contractors and employees been aware of the risks, and had the safety procedures been taken to avoid such risks.”

Inspector Jones also revealed that the company had reported a similar incident in 2006, when a forklift truck ran over a worker’s ankle. Following that incident, the HSE wrote to Calsonic Kansei UK, urging it to review its safe system of work for moving vehicles at the site.

Swansea Crown Court heard that the truck drivers at the factory were employed by David European Transport, trading as FT Logistics, which is based in Calcea, Italy. The company went into liquidation shortly after the incident and the HSE didn’t think it was worthwhile pursuing charges against it.

Calsonic Kansei UK Ltd appeared at Swansea Crown Court on 18 March and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974 and was fined £334,000. It also pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) of the same Act, for putting FT Logisitcs staff at risk, and was fined £66,000. The company was also ordered to pay £44,790 in costs.

In mitigation, Calsonic said it has implemented a number of changes following Mr Small’s death, which include creating a new policy to prohibit workers from being within one metre of a moving vehicle. It has also invested a lot of money in replacing many of the reach trucks with tow tugs, which are automated guidance vehicles with sensors that isolate the tug if people approach while it is moving.

Source: SHP

Wednesday 16 March 2011

Waste (England and Wales) Regs. 2011

The long awaited Waste (England and Wales) Regs 2011 are available for consultation. Unfortunately, they don’t live up to the promise of their 2009 version and they don’t replace as much as they could do. Main features are:
• Repeals some legislation (see bottom of blog) and combines regulations.
• Specifies a hierarchy of
1. Prevention
2. Reuse
3. Recycling
4. Recovery eg energy recovery
5. Disposal
taking into account technical and economic feasibility, protection of resources, etc., and requires producer to confirm that they have applied this hierarchy.
• Specifies (in Sch.2) amendments to Hazardous Waste Regulations, (in Sch.3) amendments to Environmental Permitting Regulations and (in Sch.4) amendments to other regulations.
• Covers activities by local authorities. Requires producer to register (by Dec.13) if they carry their own controlled waste.

Environmental Protection (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991
Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 (as amended 1995, 1997)

Sunday 6 March 2011

Engineer maimed during second day at new job

An engineering firm failed on three separate occasions to make sure that a drill had adequate guarding before it was used by an employee.
Michael O’Brien, 60, suffered permanent loss of movement to three fingers in his left hand after his glove was drawn into the chuck of a drill, while working as an engineer on only his second day at Jex Engineering Company Ltd.

A court heard that the incident took place on 1 December 2009, while Mr O’Brien was installing a machine during the construction of a waste-transfer station in Leyland, Preston.
He was drilling holes into a steel plate as part of the installation of a conveyor belt, which was being built to transfer waste at the site. Jex Engineering had hired a magnetic drill stand and drill unit but didn’t check that the machine’s guard was in place. As Mr O’Brien began drilling, the back of his left glove touched the rotating drill and his hand was pulled into the machine. He spent four days in hospital and required several skin grafts. He has been unable to return to work owing to his injuries.

HSE inspector, Allen Shute, revealed that the company wasted several opportunities to make sure the drill had adequate guarding. It could have made appropriate checks when the drill was delivered, when it was issued to Mr O’Brien, and when it carried out a full-site risk assessment before the work began.
Inspector Shute said: “These injuries have had a devastating impact on an engineer who relies on being able to use his hands for his job. Sadly, he has been unable to find work since the incident.
“Jex had three separate opportunities to make sure the drill was fitted with a guard, but it failed to act on all three occasions. Even small drills have the potential to cause serious injuries if they are not fitted with a guard. It’s therefore vital that companies take the risk seriously.”

Jex Engineering Company appeared at South Ribble Magistrates’ Court, in Leyland, on 23 February and pleaded guilty to breaching Reg. 11(1)(a) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, for failing to prevent access to dangerous machine parts. It was fined £4000 and ordered to pay £3250 towards costs.
In mitigation, the firm said it had no previous convictions and it stopped using the drill immediately following the incident. It has introduced a company-wide policy stipulating that all hired machinery must be checked to make sure it is safe for use before being issued to staff. The company has also sent its senior managers on health and safety training.

Speaking after the case, Mr O’Brien commented: “I’d only been working for the company for a couple of days but you just expect employers to know what they’re doing when it comes to health and safety.
“Two of my fingers have been virtually paralysed and I now find it very difficult to grip with my left hand. Things I used to be able to do naturally, like holding a fork or opening a jar, now take real effort. I just hope the same thing doesn’t happen to someone else, as I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”

Source: SHP 25/2/11