Thursday 18 October 2012

HSE Fee for Intevention budget

Information received under the Freedom of Information Act shows that the HSE have set a budget equivalent to £12 million per year for fees gained under the Fee for Intervention (FFI) process started on 1st October 2012.

Whilst I don't have a problem with the concept that companies who are at fault should pay, there is something wrong with this budget.  At the FFI rate of £124 per hour, £12 million requires 96,000 hours or 55 man years per year.  Or if we take a guess and say that each intervention will take 5 hours, then there needs to be 19,200 interventions per year.  

Whilst the HSE are never going to hit this budget, it is reasonable to expect that inspectors would be set targets and would change from being proactive to escalating the levels of problems they see.  This will kill off the concept of reducing the health and safety burden on industry.

Thursday 11 October 2012

Dangerous decanting operation led to devastating inferno

Workers fled for their lives when a fire, which broke out when a flammable vapour ignited, quickly spread to other containers of dangerous solvent mixtures, causing some of them to explode.

Seven of Doncaster firm Solvents With Safety’s workforce were present at the time, but all managed to escape unharmed after a quick-thinking supervisor ordered them to evacuate the site and called the emergency services. The initial blaze was described as escalating to a raging inferno within minutes.

Doncaster magistrates heard that employees were transferring highly-flammable toluene from a bulk container into a smaller drum ahead of the incident, at the company’s Plumtree Farm Industrial Estate on 16 June 2010. They were attempting to fill the drum using a pipe from a container; however, the pipe they used was too short. Consequently, the liquid was dropped from the pipe into the drum, as part of a process called ‘splash filling’, which is known to generate static electricity – a potential ignition source. At the time of the operation, which was not carried out in a bunded area, there would have been a flammable vapour over the surface of the toluene, the flash point of which is just 4 degrees C. It is thought that the build-up of static electricity in the drum ignited the vapour and sparked a fire, which completely ravaged the premises.

An HSE investigation found the ‘splash filling’ method to be wholly inappropriate and it posed a clear safety risk that wasn’t properly assessed.  “The Solvents With Safety workforce was extremely lucky to escape unharmed from this incident,” said HSE inspector, Jayne Towey. “The size and scale of the fire was immense; it took hold in minutes and caused total devastation to the company’s premises. Lives were needlessly put at risk because there would have been no blaze at all had the company taken more care with the decanting operation.”

The safety of workers was further compromised by the fact that the pipe used to fill the containers wasn’t earthed, and because the PPE worn by workers was not anti-static.

Solvents With Safety was also fully aware of the dangers of splash filling, given that the HSE had twice written to it about this very issue, first in May 2006 and, again, in December 2007. In its response to this advice, the company assured the regulator that anti-static PPE would be provided.

Pleading guilty on 3 October to breaching reg.6(1) of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002, Solvents With Safety Ltd was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £6860 in costs.

Describing the splash-filling method as “fraught with risk”, inspector Towey said the generation of static charge could have been prevented by the provision of a longer filling pipe. “This was a reasonably practicable measure to take,” she explained, “and the company was well aware of the dangers on the back of earlier HSE advice. Companies working with dangerous substances must take extreme care at all times and in all aspects of their operations. That clearly didn’t happen on this occasion and it could have had far-reaching consequences.”

Source: SHP

Thursday 4 October 2012

HSE fee recovery scheme started 1 October 2012

The HSE’s cost-recovery scheme, Fee for Intervention (FFI), came into force on 1 October.

Under the Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012, the HSE will charge employers who break the law for the costs associated with the regulator’s related inspection, investigation and enforcement activities.
  The Regulations are designed to shift the cost of health and safety enforcement from the public purse to businesses that contravene health and safety laws. Under FFI, when an HSE inspector visits a business and identifies a “material breach” of health and safety law, the business will have to pay a fee based on a rate of £124 per hour.

The fee will be applied to each intervention where a material breach is identified and any other associated work. Where the material breach is identified during a visit, costs for the whole visit are recoverable, from as soon as the HSE inspector enters the site to when they leave. The fee will also cover all work to ensure that the breach is remedied, as well as any investigation or enforcement action up to the point where the HSE’s intervention has been concluded, or prosecution proceedings begin.

A “material breach” is defined as a contravention of health and safety law that requires an inspector to issue a written notice to the duty-holder. This may be notification of a contravention, an Improvement or Prohibition Notice, or a prosecution, and must include the law that the inspector’s opinion relates to; the reasons for their opinion; and notification that a fee is payable to the HSE.

Businesses in compliance with their legal obligations will not have to pay a penny, according to the regulator, which hopes that FFI will act as a further incentive for duty-holders to operate within the law and help level the playing field between compliant and non-compliant employers.

HSE chief executive Geoffrey Podger said: “The most basic safety mistakes in the workplace can devastate lives and result in real costs to industry. It is right that those who fail to meet their legal obligations should pay HSE’s costs rather than the public purse having to do so.”

Legal experts have questioned aspects of the FFI scheme, during the lead-up to its statutory introduction. David Young, head of the health and safety team at Eversheds, said the different health and safety prosecution regimes in England and Scotland – where, in the latter, HSE legal costs are not retrievable through the courts – could have an impact on investigations of businesses north of the border.

He said: “This may cause concern to those companies with interests north of the border, which could find themselves in the position of being investigated but not prosecuted on the basis that fees can be recovered up to the point of commencement of prosecution, but not after.”

Young also reiterated concerns that the scheme may create added tensions between inspectors and businesses, especially given the charges that could be involved. He explained: “From my experience, most recent cases include average HSE inspector rates of around £66 per hour, so this will be a significant increase, particularly as it will be payable without a prosecution.
 For any business to effectively double its charge-out rate to absorb minor sundry items would be impossible, yet that is the very real case that UK business face from 1 October. I imagine that relationships between businesses and some inspectors will become uneasy for a while until the practical application of FFI is clearer.”

Following a draft publication issued in the summer, the HSE has now published a full downloadable guide to the FFI scheme on its website at:
Details on what the Executive identifies as the most basic safety mistakes in the workplace can also be viewed at:

Source: SHP

Thursday 27 September 2012

Employee drenched in corrosive chemical

view of tank from walkwayA worker who had racked up nearly half a century of employment for a Tyneside electroplating company retired just months after an incident in which he suffered serious burns from a highly-caustic chemical.

Michael Reid, 66, of North Shields, was employed as an electroplater at DMI (UK) Ltd when the incident happened on 30 January 2011. Magistrates heard how, as part of an electroplating production process, the company used a stripping tank filled with a solution of sodium hydroxide at 5 per cent. Every couple of months, as part of maintenance, the tank had to be topped up with the chemical at 32-per-cent concentration.

The concentrated solution was pumped from a barrel into the tank, via a hose. But, rather than using a permanent fixing, such as a jubilee clip, the hose was attached to the pump with tape. While Mr Reid was topping up the tank, the hose disconnected from the pump and he was doused in the chemical.

He suffered serious burns to his legs and body and spent two weeks in hospital, where he underwent several skin grafts. Mr Reid had worked for the company since 1963 and retired in July 2011. He never returned to work following the incident.  

HSE inspector Shuna Rank explained to SHP that the company did not carry out a risk assessment of the procedure and, consequently, it did not have a safe system of work for checking hoses, or joints. She pointed out that Mr Reid had not been provided with a suitable work apron, which, had he been wearing, would have protected him, to some extent, from the spray. The investigation also revealed that DMI (UK) had failed to provide sufficient training for Mr Reid and other employees in the handling of sodium hydroxide. Said inspector Rank: “Sodium hydroxide continues to burn when on the skin. Although Mr Reid changed his clothes, he didn’t shower and he didn’t go straight to hospital. It was only the next morning that he realised how serious his injuries were and he went to hospital.”

While his co-workers responded promptly to the incident by drenching Mr Reid in water, the company’s failure to train workers in the risks associated with the highly-corrosive chemical meant they, too, didn’t appreciate the severity of the incident, added the inspector.

Appearing before North Tyneside magistrates on 21 September, DMI (UK) Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974, for failing to provide a safe system of work for topping up the stripping tank. It was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £4081 in costs.The company took immediate action following the incident to rewrite its work methods and provide suitable protective equipment. It also provided its workers with additional training on the risks associated with chemicals involved in electroplating.

Following the case, inspector Rank said: “This incident should never have happened. Had the hose been properly attached to the pump it would not have occurred and basic systems to check and maintain equipment could have prevented it. In addition, employees should have received training to ensure they were fully aware of the risks associated with handling concentrated sodium hydroxide.”

Source: SHP

Friday 7 September 2012

Changes to Waste (England and Wales) Regs.

The Waste (England and Wales) Amendment Regs. 2012 changed reg.13.
For some reason, they have removed the definition in 13(2) of the 2011 regs., which states that co-mingling with subsequent separation is still separation.
What I think they mean is that waste for recycling must be kept separate from waste for landfill. I don't think they really mean that waste paper must be kept separate from glass, metal, etc., in the recycling stream. Many waste organisations (including my local council) find it more economical to co-mingle recycling waste and then separate it later rather than collect separately.
Amended regs
13.(1) This regulation applies from 1st January 2015.
(2) Subject to paragraph (4), an establishment or undertaking which collects waste paper, metal, plastic or glass must do so by way of separate collection.
(3) Subject to paragraph (4), every waste collection authority must, when making arrangements for the collection of waste paper, metal, plastic or glass, ensure that those arrangements are by way of separate collection.
(4) The duties in this regulation apply where separate collection—
(a)is necessary to ensure that waste undergoes recovery operations in accordance with Articles 4 and 13 of the Waste Framework Directive and to facilitate or improve recovery; and
(b)is technically, environmentally and economically practicable..
2011 regs
13.—(1) An establishment or undertaking which collects waste paper, metal, plastic or glass must, from 1st January 2015, take all such measures to ensure separate collection of that waste as are available to the establishment or undertaking in that capacity and are—
(a)technically, environmentally and economically practicable; and
(b)appropriate to meet the necessary quality standards for the relevant recycling sectors.
(2) For the avoidance of doubt, co-mingled collection (being the collection together with each other but separately from other waste of waste streams intended for recycling with a view to subsequent separation by type and nature) is a form of separate collection.
(3) Every waste collection authority must, when making arrangements for the collection of waste paper, metal, plastic or glass, ensure that those arrangements are by way of separate collection.

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Worker’s leg crushed inside blocked brick machine

A migrant worker suffered crush injuries to his leg when he became trapped inside a poorly-guarded machine at a brick-making factory. Nikoloz Demetrashvili, 42, was working at Michelmersh Brick and Tile Company’s Ltd’s facility in Romsey, Hampshire, when the incident took place on 12 October last year.

Southampton Magistrates’ Court heard that Mr Demetrashvili was clearing a blockage from a brick-making machine after two trays had dropped on a brick mould instead of one. He followed company instructions and disabled the pressure-sensitive mats, which were designed to prevent access to the machine, as he needed the machine to have power so he could free the tray. The machine was not in production mode but the sensors were still active.

He climbed inside the machine to reach the tray, which he had done on previous occasions to clear blockages. As he leant over the turntable and pulled the tray, a sensor activated and the turntable rotated, crushing his leg and trapping him inside the machine. He suffered multiple fractures to his right leg and spent three weeks in hospital.

The HSE investigated the incident and issued an Improvement Notice, which required the company to put measures in place to prevent access to the inside of the machine while the power is running.

HSE inspector Daniel Hilbourne said: “Had the pressure mat been configured properly, it would have prevented the machine from operating with anyone near it. Sadly, Mr Demetrashvili has been left with very serious and life-changing injuries because of safety failures that could easily have been avoided. This prosecution is a reminder to firms of the need to carefully consider the risks of machinery and to identify and implement adequate controls to protect their employees.”

Michelmersh Brick and Tile Company appeared in court on 22 August and pleaded guilty to breaching reg.3(1) of the MHSWR 1999, and reg.11(1) of PUWER 1998. It was fined a total of £15,000 and ordered to pay £4945 in costs. In mitigation, the firm said it had no previous convictions and cooperated with the investigation. It complied with the Improvement Notice by removing a switch that allowed the pressure mat to be overridden.

Claims that HSE is in denial over occupational cancer

The HSE needs to change its “unrealistic” and “ignorant” approach to occupational cancer if thousands more cases and deaths are to be prevented, a pressure group has warned.

Released yesterday (22 August) as the Executive’s board was discussing its latest estimate of the current burden of occupational cancer in Great Britain, a statement by the Hazards Campaign accused the regulator of “showing little interest in finding unknown exposures, underestimating the numbers of workers exposed, and showing no sense of urgency to tackle this massive but preventable workplace epidemic”.

The HSE’s Long Latency Health Risks Division estimates that occupational cancer accounts for around 8000 of the estimated annual toll of 12,000 deaths from occupational ill health, and some 14,000 new cases a year. This is based on a study funded by the HSE and published in the British Journal of Cancer in June this year.

A paper presented to the board yesterday outlined how the Executive is addressing this via a range of interventions and by focusing on 10 priority agents/occupations to help it identify where its efforts will have the most impact.

The Hazards Campaign, however, contends that the true annual figures are nearer 18,000 deaths and 30,000 registrations, and blames the HSE’s reliance on epidemiology – looking primarily at the specific organs in the body affected by cancer, rather than the actual causes – for its skewed vision.

Warned occupational cancer researcher, Simon Pickvance: “The HSE has been in denial about work cancer for over three decades, depending far too heavily on epidemiology, which is only capable of seeing widespread, long-established problems among large numbers of workers, employed for long periods of time, in large workplaces, such as mines, mills and manufacturing. This is totally unsuitable for today’s smaller, and fast-evolving workplaces, with more complex and diverse exposures.”

Mr Pickvance cited the example to SHP of diesel-engine exhaust emissions – one of the 10 priority agents/occupations chosen by the HSE. He explained: “The HSE cites the figure of 10,000 people exposed, but there are some 600,000 professional drivers alone, while the overall number of people who drive as part of their work is nearer one million.”

He also criticised the focus on just 10 agents/occupations, saying: “It’s not a question of prioritising the most common causes because we don’t actually know what the most common causes are!”

The Hazards Campaign is calling for a broader-spectrum approach, which would involve asking workers to identify workplace exposure to carcinogens, talking to medical consultants, who deal with patients, and solicitors, who see a steady flow of claimants with occupational cancer. However, Mr Pickvance acknowledges that HSE resources are a problem. He said: “We are aware of the current economic climate and so are not expecting the HSE to do very much.”

The HSE’s overall funding for health-based research is around £7 million a year; projects related to occupational cancer cost £5 million during the 2009/10 and 2011/12 work years.

The paper presented to the board yesterday outlined work done so far and still in progress, including myriad campaigns, awareness-raising initiatives, ongoing research projects, liaison with industry organisations and other government departments, task-specific advice and guidance, and engagement in discussions at European level on classification of carcinogens and mutagens. The board has been invited to consider, among other things, how the HSE can engage constructively with more partners to deliver future beneficial interventions; whether more work should be done specifically in the cases of shift work, diesel-engine exhaust emissions, painters and welders; and if a workshop/conference should be held with partners to explore what more can be done on occupational disease.

Source: SHP

Thursday 2 August 2012

Beware the CE Mark

Some people facetiously say that CE stands for “Check Everything”.  Unfortunately, there is some truth in this.  Whilst the intention is to indicate that the equipment meets certain safety standards, there is no absolute assurance that this is so.
The intention of this blog is to draw people’s attention to the CE mark, it’s function and pitfalls.  It describes how the procedure is intended to work, where the obligations are and typical examples where it goes wrong.  It finishes with steps that a purchaser should include.

This article is available in more depth on .

To what does CE Marking apply?

This applies to all equipment supplied for first time use in the EU after 1st January 1995.   
Normally,  the manufacturer is accountable for the process, but agents or importers would be accountable for equipment which originates outside the EU.  Though we normally think of the process being applied to new machines, it applies to old machines if they were introduced into the EU after January 1995. Similarly, though it is intended to ease trading, it applies even if the equipment is for self-use.

Who polices CE Marking?

The short answer is nobody.  Apart from specific machinery, there is no organisation that either certifies the machine, or licences the supplier as being able to certify his machine. Be aware that the process is one of pure trust on the supplier.  

Where does the buck stop?

The company who puts the equipment into use (ie the employer) has obligations and it is he who has the final accountability for ensuring that the equipment is safe.  

What goes wrong?

In my experience, the key points to look for are:
  • Gross non-conformities (major faults with guards)
  • Minor non-conformities (compromises made to prevent features making safety worse)
  • Lack of awareness (not being aware of the requirements of safety-related control systems)

What should the purchaser do?

The two main actions a purchaser should take are:
Include clear specifications in your order, including statements that the safety related control system must be downstream of the PLC.  One company with whom I work has a set of specifications to which supplier must adhere.  You might consider a clause where you hold back final payment until it has been checked and any faults corrected.
Be aware that when equipment arrives, the presence of the CE mark does not necessarily mean it is safe.  You must carry out a thorough risk assessment. Where there are major faults, then you could take this up with the supplier; they are the ones who should supply equipment which is fit for purpose.

Friday 13 July 2012

Eight fire safety offences at pub

A pub landlord has pleaded guilty to eight fire safety offences after failing to understand he had become responsible for fire safety when his lease changed.

The offences related to the Duke of York pub on Church Street, Eccles, and followed an inspection by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority (GMFRA) in August 2011.
The offences were: 
  • failing to make a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment;
  • failing to ensure that routes to emergency exits were kept clear; 
  • failing to ensure adequate fire resistance to escape routes; 
  • failing to ensure that emergency routes and exits lead directly to a place of safety; failing to provide a suitable fire alarm; 
  • failing to provide adequate emergency lighting;
  • failing to provided suitable and sufficient firefighting equipment; and 
  • failing to comply with a prohibition notice.
Paul Darnborough, prosecuting for GMFRA, said that had a fire occurred rather than providing a safe escape the emergency routes would have provided a "corridor of smoke and fire that would trapped people upstairs".

Assistant chief officer Peter O'Reilly, director of prevention and protection at GMFRA , said: "We were right to bring this prosecution as members of the public had been put at risk - but the decision of the magistrates recognises that the pub landlord did not seek to put profit over safety but rather failed to understand his responsibilities. I hope that this case will encourage people setting up or entering businesses to ensure they research their legal responsibilities. Anyone entering into a lease arrangement must ensure they fully understand their obligations and the legal implications.”

Source: Info4Fire

Diesel fumes reclassified as carcinogen

The World Health Organsiation (WHO) has reclassified diesel fumes as a Categerory 1 carcinogen, similar to tobacco.  The primary risk is that of lung cancer, but there may be a link to bladder cancer. This has resulted in a spate of enquiries about measuring diesel fumes.
Diesel exhaust fumes are a complex mixture of particulate and gaseous pollutants. The highly respirable particles consist mainly of a carbonaceous core and adsorbed organic compounds. The most important adsorbed organics are n-alkanes and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Oxides of nitrogen in the exhaust gas may react with PAHs to form highly carcinogenic nitro-PAHs.

Because diesel fumes are complex, it is not straightforward to measure fumes. The current best practice is to measure elemental carbon.  This can be done using cassettes and a sampling pump with subsequent laboratory analysis.

However, there is nothing with which to compare any results.  There is no WEL or any other figure. So we can get a set of results and not know if they are good or bad.

Saturday 7 July 2012

HSE promote sensible approach to PAT testing

Good to see that the HSE are now promoting the sensible approach to electrical safety testing that SSS have always advocated.  If you have situations such as offices, it is not necessary to have equipment tested annually.
Their publication "Maintaining portable electric equipment in low-risk environments" is short and readable.  You can read it at
And their web page  "Portable applicance testing - frequently asked questions" is also worth looking at.

Friday 6 July 2012

SSS provide safety support for Deburring Services

SSS have completed the first block of health and safety support for Deburring Services, of Cheltenham.

Deburring Services carry out specialist services for aerospace. medical, Formula 1 and other applications.  

The support provided by SSS included, risk assessment, CoSHH assessment and fire risk assessment.  A programme of on-going support has been agreed, comprising periodic visits.

Following the initial block of work, John Wood, Managing Director of Deburring Services said that, "I'm delighted with the standard and professionalism of this work. Finding Strategic Safety Systems was like finding the golden nugget.  It has reduced the burden of health and safety on us considerably.  We will certainly recommend them."

 Deburring Services has coming under increased pressure to become certified to ISO 14001, and will use SSS to provide the systems for this.

See more about risk assessment services from SSS.

Thursday 5 July 2012

Beware the CE mark, yet again

We have recently reviewed a machine which is the first of its kind.  This machine is being Beta tested at one of our customers and they asked us to review the safety aspects of this machine.  Though the type of machine that the new one is destined to replace is horrible, and has caused major injuries and deaths throughout industry, we found a number of shortcomings with the new machine.  These were:
  • Access platform from which the machine is loaded and unloaded extended for only 33% of the full width and had no end handrails. Operators were therefore required to reach out over the edge twice for every item processed. (Risk of falls)
  • Scissor lifts for raising material had no devices to protect against crush injury either during normal use or during maintenance. (Risk of crush or foot amputation)
  • No guarding on feed mechanism underside. (Risk of entrapment)
  • No guarding of gaps which could cause finger amputation injury. One gap is right next to handles on a part being moved. (Risk of finger amputation)
  • Potential for heavy part of the machine to be dropped.  Stops to prevent this were marginal. (Risk of upper body or lower body crush injury)
Because of legal concerns, we cannot show photographs of the machine or name the manufacturer.  
All of the above risks were immediately apparent.  Suitable risk control measures are readily available and cost little when compared with the overall cost of the machine.

Remember the following:

PIAC to close after 32 years

The Printing Industry Advisory Committee, which was chaired and driven by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), supported by stakeholders from the industry has come to an end after 32 years.

The safety committee was set up and introduced by the regulator back in July 1979, to help improve safety standards for the industry when health and safety regulations began to swamp the workplace, in particular the early nineties.

The committee was responsible for monitoring accident trends, identifying target areas for campaigning, introducing guidance documents, supporting the HSE in developing Safe Systems of Work and many more areas of support, to help raise safety standards and for employers to comply with workplace health and safety regulations.

Certain committee members were also involved in the development of the well-known Printer's Guide to Health and Safety, a publication commonly known as the ‘printer's safety bible', and its ongoing updates. But sadly the committee closed at the end of its last meeting on 28th March 2012. The driver behind this decision has been the HSE and its unpopular Manufacturing Industries Sector Strategy document, which went to consultation back in August 2011, placing the Print sector in the band D category (low risk), and therefore, not requiring an IAC status. These decisions have been made due to harsh cutbacks in Government Office.

As a past member of this committee and a contributory author to The Printer's Guide to Health and Safety, I'd like to say how sad I am that this has happened. 

Tuesday 3 July 2012

October start for HSE cost-recovery confirmed

The HSE’s cost-recovery scheme, known as Fee for Intervention (FFI), will begin on 1 October, subject to Parliamentary approval, the regulator has announced.

As well as confirming the start date for the scheme, the HSE has also published initial guidance explaining how the scheme will work in practice, along with examples illustrating how it will be applied.

The scheme was originally expected to come into force in April but was postponed following the HSE’s decision to take more time to discuss certain “technical details” and carry out a test run. Announcing the date of the scheme’s launch (29 June), HSE programme director Gordon MacDonald stressed that law-abiding businesses will not pay a penny and that the Executive will only recover costs from duty-holders that are found to be in material breach of health and safety law. “We have worked with industry representatives in shaping the final form of the scheme, and the published guidance explains how the scheme will work and what businesses can do to comply with the law and avoid incurring a fee,” he explained.
“It is right that those who break the law should pay their fair share of the costs to put things right, and not the public purse. Firms who manage workplace risks properly will not pay.”   

Detailed advice on the scheme’s operation is now available in a newly published guidance document on the HSE’s website. The guidance includes a number of examples of material breaches but does not cover every scenario where FFI might apply. It also explains how the scheme will operate in accordance with the HSE’s existing Enforcement Management Model (EMM) and the Enforcement Policy Statement (EPS).
The process for handling queries and disputed invoices is also covered, although full guidance on these procedures will be published on the HSE website in advance of the Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012 – under which FFI is being introduced – coming into effect.

The new guidance confirms that the fee payable by duty-holders found to be in material breach of the law is £124 per hour, except where work is contracted to the Health and Safety Laboratory, or a specialist third party, in which instances the actual cost to the HSE of the service will be recovered from the duty-holder. The fee includes all work that is needed to identify a material breach and all work to ensure that the breach is remedied.

FFI will apply when an inspector:
  • identifies a contravention of health and safety law;
  • is of the opinion that the contravention is serious enough to require written notification (i.e. it is a material breach); and
  • notifies the person contravening the law of their opinion, in writing, by a notification of contravention, Improvement or Prohibition Notice, or prosecution.
Invoices will generally be sent to duty-holders every two months, and payment is due to the HSE within 30 days of the date of the invoice.

With disputes, all initial inquiries will be treated as a query for which no fee is payable. However, if duty-holders are not satisfied with the response to their query, they can formally dispute the invoice by writing to the HSE and setting out the specific reasons why they do not believe the charge is valid. A fee is payable for handling disputes.

Existing arrangements for making an appeal against an Improvement or Prohibition Notice remain unchanged.
Steffan Groch, a partner at DWF solicitors, said FFI is of particular concern for smaller businesses. “Depending on experience and style, some inspectors may take longer than others to complete the investigation, which will undoubtedly lead to discrepancies across the board, meaning some businesses could pay much more than others,” he explained. “Apart from knowing that the hourly rate will be £124, businesses will have no way of knowing what the final bill will come to until the very end of the case. What’s more, there appears to be no room for discussion or negotiations until this stage either, as the first time that a business can raise an objection is when they receive the invoice for the investigation. Ultimately, it is smaller businesses that are going to suffer as a result of the FFI regulation.”

The initial ‘Guidance on the application of Fee for Intervention’ is available at but a final version will be published prior to the start date of the scheme.

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Fall from platform at boat-buidling firm

A worker suffered a broken arm after falling off the unprotected edge of a wooden staging, which was positioned around a boat while it was being refurbished.

The employee, who wishes to remain anonymous, was working for boat builders Clare Lallow Ltd when the incident took place at the firm’s yard in Cowes. The company has an international reputation and built a number of yachts for former prime minister Edward Heath, including the Morning Cloud.

On 4 August 2011, the worker was attempting to pick up a specialist sanding and polishing machine, known as a linisher, from the wooden staging, when he fell over the edge and landed on the ground 1.4 metres below. He received treatment for a broken arm and was unable to return to work for more than five months owing to his injuries.

The HSE visited the yard and found that the company had added rope guardrails around the staging, but these were not sufficient to prevent further falls. The company was issued with a Prohibition Notice on 23 August 2011, which required the work to stop until suitable measures were put in place to prevent falls from height.

HSE inspector Craig Varian explained that the incident could have been avoided if suitable edge protection had been installed. He said: “The company's failings left an individual injured for a significant period of time. Yet the incident was avoidable. Clare Lallow Ltd should have recognised the risks and installed simple, low-cost solutions to prevent the employees falling from this staging around the boat. You don't have to fall from a great height to lose your life. It's wrong that workers like the one in this case suffer preventable injuries because simple steps have not been taken to manage obvious workplace risks. It is vital all work is properly planned, assessed and then implemented.”

Clare Lallow appeared at Isle of Wight Magistrates’ Court on 7 June and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £1000 and ordered to pay the same amount in costs. In mitigation, the company said it had no previous convictions and it complied with the Prohibition Notice by constructing a scaffold and guardrail system around the boat. The firm also said it deeply regretted the incident and the injuries suffered by its employee, who had worked for the company for more than 16 years.

Source: SHP

Friday 8 June 2012

Recycling firm fined £200,000 for loader fatality

A decision to allow an unsupervised, inexperienced 21-year-old worker to operate a poorly-maintained loader had fatal consequences, a court has heard.

Mark Bate, of Tipton, West Midlands, was killed instantly when the arm of a JCB skid-steer loader crushed his head on 12 June 2008. He had been driving the vehicle at SITA UK Ltd’s premises on the Coneygre Industrial Estate for three months without being properly trained.

On the day of the incident, he was working on his own to load scrap paper on to a conveyor. Once he had finished, he brought the load to a halt and raised the safety bar from across his lap to isolate the machine. But the vehicle failed to isolate and, as he leant out of the front of the vehicle, the loader’s arm fell and crushed his head against the machine, killing him immediately.

The HSE investigation found that Mr Bate had never received formal training or assessment in the use of the vehicle, and a self-employed maintenance engineer had also used it over several months with no training. In addition, the court heard the loader had not been maintained in the eight months before the incident. It should have been serviced at least twice during this period.

Appearing at Wolverhampton Crown Court on 1 June, SITA UK was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £77,402, after pleading guilty to breaching s2(1) and s3(1) of the HSWA 1974. The company was also instructed to reimburse Mr Bate’s mother, Catherine Jones, £4450 in funeral costs. 

Following the case, HSE inspector David Evans said: “Mark Bate was a young man who should have had a long life ahead of him. Instead, he was killed in an entirely avoidable tragedy. Despite knowing his lack of experience, SITA left him unsupervised to operate the loader. Furthermore, the vehicle was dangerous because it had not been properly maintained. The company’s risk assessment should have identified these issues but did not cover the use of this machine.”

Source: SHP

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Forklift driver crushed underneath unstable storage stack

A haulage company has been fined £25,000 after a worker was crushed to death when a row of steel coils collapsed like dominos and trapping him underneath.

Alan Burr, 52, worked as a forklift driver at ABC (Grimsby) Ltd’s warehouse at Henderson Quay, Immingham Docks, in Grimsby. On 27 January 2010, he was stacking narrow-banded coils on rolls in batches of four or five, with a gap between each coil. Each coil measured five feet in diameter and weighed approximately one tonne. Mr Burr was standing between two of the rolls to repair damaged wrapping when one of them toppled, causing a domino effect in the stack. He was trapped underneath the fallen stack and died at the scene from crush injuries.
The HSE’s investigation learned that Mr Burr had worked for the company for more than 20 years, and the method for stacking the coils was commonly used by both Mr Burr and his colleagues.

HSE inspector Denise Fotheringham explained that the stacking method was completely unsuitable, as the stacks were unstable because there was nothing holding them in place. She went on to say that the company had failed to identify the risks presented by this method of work, and should have installed coil racks so the items could be stored safely. “Mr Burr was simply trying to do a good job and repair a tear in the polythene wrapping but it had these dreadful consequences,” said inspector Fotheringham. “Narrow-banded coils can be unstable when stored on roll end, as they can collapse in a domino effect and that, very sadly, is exactly what happened.  ABC had been storing this type of steel coil since April 2009, but had given no training to employees about how to handle and store them safely. This loss of life could have been avoided if sufficient instruction, training and the provision of inexpensive coil racks - which work on the same simple principle as a toast rack - had been provided by the company.”

ABC (Grimsby) Ltd appeared at Grimsby Crown Court on 17 May and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974, and reg.3(1) of the MHSWR 1999. In addition to the fine it was ordered to pay £20,000 in costs.
In delivering his sentence, Judge Simon Jack accepted the firm had a good safety record prior to the incident. He examined the firm’s financial means and decided against imposing a larger fine, which would have risked the company going into liquidation, as it had recently lost a large contract with ConocoPhillips. He said: “I don't believe it should be forced into liquidation and I suspect Mr Burr would not have wanted that.”

Mr Burr's widow Mandy said it was hard to explain the loss she and her family have suffered. She said: “Losing Alan was one of the worst days I can ever remember. Alan and I had planned to grow old together and always be there for each other, but that was taken away in a split second.

Source: SHP

Machine’s safety interlock was deliberately disabled

A component engineering company in Cheltenham has admitted safety failings after a worker was injured inside a machine, which had had its safety mechanism deliberately disabled.

Grzegorz Chylenski, 33, was working as a machine operator at PG Components Ltd’s factory when the incident took place, on 22 August last year. He was operating a Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machine, which drills holes in components made for resale inside electrical goods.

The CNC machine was fitted with a safety mechanism, which stopped it running when its doors were opened. But the company had disabled its safety interlock by placing a male part into the female part of the lock. This allowed the doors to remain open while the machine was in operation, so workers could monitor the internal cycle.

On the day of the incident, Mr Chylenski accidentally dropped a component into the machine, through the open doors. He believed the machine had come to the end of a cycle, and he leaned inside to retrieve the part. As he did so, the moving parts of the machine reactivated and struck him on the head. He suffered a broken jaw and cuts to his face and ear. He was unable to return to work for five weeks owing to his injuries.

HSE inspector Dominic Goacher explained the company had put workers at risk by disabling the interlock. He said: “The law clearly states that employers have a duty to ensure the health and safety of their employees, which includes ensuring machinery and systems of work are safe. In this instance, PG Components Ltd clearly failed to ensure the safety of Mr Chylenski, with unfortunate consequences. This incident could have been avoided had the manufacturer's safety device not been bypassed. Allowing the CNC machine to be used in this state puts operators at serious risk of injury, or even death.”

PG Components appeared at Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court on 21 May and pleaded guilty to breaching reg.11(1) of PUWER 1998. It was fined £11,200 and ordered to pay £2778 in costs. It must also pay £2500 in compensation to Mr Chylenski. In mitigation, the firm said it reset the interlock immediately following the incident. It has subsequently installed a laser probe inside the machine, which feeds information to a control panel so workers can monitor each cycle. The company has no previous convictions.

Source: SHP

Friday 25 May 2012

Fashion store owner convicted after ‘catalogue of failings’

The owner of a fashion store has been fined for seven breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
Joel Lever pleaded guilty to the offences at Bury and Rochdale magistrates court on 17 May, following an inspection of Mon Amie Studios in Bury Old Road, Prestwich, in April 2011.

When officers arrived at the two-storey shop, they discovered a metal roller shutter covering a front door. Two doors at the back were also blocked by shutters, meaning that had a fire occurred, none of these doors could have been used to escape. The doors were not only blocked by the shutters but were also locked and the access routes were obstructed by furniture, an old till and various boxes.

Although there was a fire alarm in the building it had not been serviced or maintained and did not extend to an office on the first floor. The office had windows which were barred on the outside, meaning that there was no way of detecting or giving warning if a fire occurred in the room. Fire extinguishers had not been serviced on an annual basis, with one last serviced in 1996, many of the escape routes were blocked by clothing rails, boxes and furniture, and a fire exit door was locked.

Staff told the officers inspecting that they had not had training and one staff member did not know where the fire exits were.

Officers were so concerned about the lack of escape routes and risk to staff and customers that a prohibition notice was served on the same day, restricting the use of the shop to within 20 metres of a an open door.
The court heard that when officers returned the following day there was nothing to stop customers wandering round the shop and some of the fire exits remained blocked.

Mr Lever was fined a total of £5,200 for two of the offences (failure to carry out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment and failure to comply with a prohibition notice) with no separate penalties for the others. He was also ordered to pay costs of £3,178.

Peter O'Reilly, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service's director of prevention and protection, said: "This shop presented a catalogue of failings which together could've proved fatal. Mr Lever was responsible for undertaking a fire risk assessment for his shop and failed to do so, putting staff and customers at great risk. The locking of fire doors is totally unacceptable and common sense dictates that routes to and through fire exits should be kept clear. The fact that he'd installed fire extinguishers but failed to have them regularly tested indicates a complete disregard for fire safety."

Source: Info4Fire

Thursday 24 May 2012

Worker’s arm ripped off inside unguarded machine

A waste management company has admitted safety failings after a worker lost most of his arm when it was pulled into an unguarded conveyor.

Agency worker Vladislavs Golovacs was attempting to clear a blockage on a conveyor, when the incident took place at Pinden Ltd’s quarry in Longfield, near Dartford. The conveyor, which was used to transfer waste into a sorting shed, had a tear on a conveyor belt that was positioned above the machine’s roller. This allowed stones to fall into the roller, which caused it to judder and on some occasions created blockages.

On 20 December 2012, Mr Golovacs was part of a team who were operating the machine. A stone became caught in between the roller and its metal housing. During previous blockages, workers stopped the machine to remove the debris. But bosses as the site became frustrated, as this caused production to slow down, and created a backlog of waste at the start of the line. Mr Golovacs attempted to remove the blockage while the machine was still in operation, and his glove got snagged on the roller and his arm was pulled into the machine. He feared that his head would be pulled into the machine, so he pulled against the force, and his arm was ripped from his body between his shoulder and elbow – leaving just a quarter of the limb intact. He was airlifted to hospital, where surgeons were unable to reattach his arm. He has been unable to return to work owing to his injuries.

The HSE found the machine did not have any guards to prevent access to the roller. The company had not carried out an adequate risk assessment and Mr Golovacs had not been trained in how to remove blockages.

HSE inspector Andrew McGill said: “This was a horrific incident that was entirely preventable had appropriate guarding been fitted, and had Mr Golovacs been properly trained in how to clear a blockage. He knows to his cost that dangerous moving parts should be properly restricted when in operation, and isolated if access is required. However, it was the responsibility of Pinden Ltd to ensure that happened - which it clearly didn't on this occasion. Safe systems of work must be of paramount importance at all times.”

Pinden Ltd appeared at Dartford Magistrates’ Court on 17 May and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £11,506 in costs. In mitigation, the firm said it installed a guard to the machine hours after the incident. It also claimed that the risks posed by the machine weren’t identified by a health and safety consultancy who had been contracted to carry out monthly inspections at the site.

Source: SHP

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Wind farms linked to climate change

Wind farms can cause climate change, according to new research, that shows for the first time the new technology is already pushing up temperatures.
Usually at night the air closer to the ground becomes colder when the sun goes down and the earth cools. But on wind farms the motion of the turbines mixes the warmer air higher in the atmosphere with the ground-level air, pushing up the overall temperature.
Satellite data over a large area in Texas, covered by four of the world's largest wind farms, found that over a decade the local temperature went up by almost 1°C as more turbines were built. This could have long-term effects on wildlife living in the vicinity of larger wind farms. It could also affect regional weather patterns as warmer areas affect the formation of cloud and even wind speeds. And, as even bigger wind farms are built around the world, there are calls for further research into whether it is likely to affect climate change on a larger scale.

Texas is the largest producer of wind power in the US. It is reported that China is erecting 36 wind turbines every day. Liming Zhou, Research Associate Professor at the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences at the University of New York, who led the study, said further research was now needed into the effect of the new technology on the wider environment. "Wind energy is among the world's fastest growing sources of energy. The US wind industry has experienced a remarkably rapid expansion of capacity in recent years," While converting wind's kinetic energy into electricity, wind turbines modify surface atmosphere exchanges and transfer, of energy, momentum, mass and moisture within the atmosphere. These changes, if spatially large enough, might have-noticeable impacts on local to regional weather and climate."

The study, published in the scientific journal Nature, found a warming trend of up to 0.72°C per decade as more turbines were built. The team studied satellite data showing land surface temperature in west-central Texas: The study said: "Despite debates regarding the possible impacts of wind farms on regional to global scale weather and climate, modelling studies agree that they can significantly affect local scale meteorology."
"Our results show a significant warming trend of up to 0.72°C per decade, particularly at night-time, over wind farms relative to nearby non-wind farm regions. We attribute this warming primarily to wind farms as its spatial pattern and magnitude couples very well with the geographic distribution of wind farms. The spatial pattern of the warming resembles the geographic distribution of wind turbines and the year-to-year land surface temperature over wind farms shows a persistent upward trend from 2003 to 2011, consistent with the increasing number of operational wind turbines with time," said Prof Zhou. However he pointed out that the most extreme changes were at night and the overall, changes may be smaller. In addition, they were much smaller than the estimated change caused by other factors such as man made global warming. "Overall, the warming effect reported in this study is local and is small compared to the strong background year-to-year land surface temperature changes," he added.
Prof Steven Sherwood, co-director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales in Australia, the research was "pretty solid". "This makes sense, since at night the ground becomes, much cooler than the air just a few hundred meters above the surface,, and the wind farms generate gentle turbulence near the ground that causes these to mix together, thus the ground doesn't get quite as cool."
Source: Daily Telegraph, 30th April

Friday 27 April 2012

HGV ran over worker at congested site

A worker at a packaging manufacturer suffered life-changing injuries when he was dragged along a road underneath the wheels of a heavy-goods vehicle (HGV).

Pete Newsum, 55, was working as a forklift driver at The Corrugated Case Company Ltd’s facility in Danesmoor, Chesterfield, when the incident took place on 14 December 2010. After finishing his lunch break he returned to the site, which was congested with vehicles that had been prevented from undertaking deliveries and collections owing to a period of bad weather.

As he approached the yard, he noticed a HGV reversing to allow another vehicle to move, so he stood on the kerb and waited until the HGV had manoeuvred past him. Expecting it to continue reversing, he stepped in front of the vehicle, but it stopped and began moving forwards. Mr Newsum was knocked to the ground and dragged underneath the vehicle’s wheels.

A member of the public spotted the worker’s high-visibility jacket underneath the wheels and alerted the driver to stop. Mr Newsum was pulled free and taken to hospital, where he needed to be resuscitated on two occasions. He also received treatment for damage to his lower spine and shoulder, fractures to his pelvis, ribs and leg, and cuts to the head. He has been unable to return to work owing to his injuries and still suffers post-traumatic epilepsy, breathing difficulties, and has reduced mobility.

The HSE’s investigation found the company had failed to implement safe workplace transport procedures at the site. There was no enforced speed limit and no measures in place to separate pedestrians and vehicles. Inspector Fiona Coffey explained: “On the day of the incident, the site was congested with unusually high levels of traffic, yet there were no pedestrian-crossing points, speed restrictions, mirrors or signage, or any other means of segregating pedestrians and vehicles.

“The company had been visited by HSE six months prior to the incident and had been given verbal instruction on how to better control workplace transport, which a director and the health and safety manager had agreed to. As a result of the company’s failure to implement this guidance, their employee suffered painful and life-changing injuries.”

The Corrugated Case Company appeared at North East Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court on 18 April and pleaded guilty to breaching reg.17(1) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and reg.3(1)(a) of the MHSWR 1999. It was fined a total of £8000 and ordered to pay costs of £7435.

Source: SHP 25th April 2012

Thursday 26 April 2012

Proposed reforms of No Win - No Fee legislation

The Government is pushing ahead with plans to reform ‘no win no fee’ deals and overhaul the civil-justice system, as part of its efforts to release businesses from the fear of a compensation culture.

In a new consultation launched on 29th March and aimed at creating a simpler, quicker and more proportionate civil-justice regime, the Government is proposing to expand the use of an online system for resolving road-traffic accident personal-injury claims of up to £10,000, by making it available to process employers’ liability and public liability personal-injury claims.

The Government also plans to introduce automatic referral to mediation in small-claims cases, automatic referral to mediation-awareness sessions in higher-value cases, and consulting on making mediated settlements enforceable by courts.

Other proposals include raising the maximum value for small claims from £5000 to £15,000, enabling more cases to be heard through the small-claims process rather than through a costly trial.

Announcing the plans, Justice secretary Kenneth Clarke said: “With no major reform for 15 years, the civil-justice system has got out of kilter. Businesses and other people who have been sued can find that spiralling legal costs, slow court processes, unnecessary litigation, and the ‘no win no fee’ structures, which mean greater payments to lawyers than to claimants, are setting them back millions of pounds each year.”

According to the Government, statistics provided by insurers show that in 1999 claimant solicitors’ costs were equivalent to just over half the damages agreed, or awarded. By last year, however, average claimant costs represented 142 per cent of the sums received by injured victims.

Seeking reform in this area, the Government also confirmed it would be implementing Lord Justice Jackson’s blueprint to reform the cost of civil litigation. These plans include:

  • Abolishing recoverability of success fees and associated costs in ‘no win no fee’ conditional-fee agreements. Under the current regime, defendants must pay these additional costs if they lose. Under the reforms, claimants will pay their lawyer’s success fee, and will therefore take an interest in controlling the costs being incurred on their behalf.
  • Allowing damages-based agreements (also known as contingency fees) in litigation before the courts. These are another form of ‘no win no fee’ agreement, under which lawyers can take a proportion of the claimants’ damages in fees, and would increase the funding options available to claimants.
  • Introducing a 10-per-cent increase in general damages, and introducing a mechanism to protect the vast majority of personal-injury claimants from paying a winning defendant’s costs.
Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly said the reforms would help tackle “the perverse situation in which lawyers can be awarded a greater proportion of payouts than claimants” and “help put an end to the fear of a compensation culture”.

Following the announcement, EEF head of health & safety, Steve Pointer, said: “This is a welcome step forward in delivering a system that reflects a fair balance between rewarding those who have been harmed, and the significant efforts of companies to manage risks. The current system of high legal costs for small claims is encouraging poor claims and is failing to meet the needs of genuine claimants, insurers and employers.”

He added: “Today’s reforms must now be followed by further action. The HSE is already doing a great deal to reduce the paperwork burden imposed by regulation, and this needs to be followed through into the compensation system, where straightforward changes could make a real difference.”

But TUC general secretary Brendan Barber attacked the proposals, saying: “This review has nothing to do with justice. It is simply lining the pockets of insurers at the expense of claimants seeking compensation for injuries caused by the negligence of others.”

The consultation, ‘Solving disputes in the county courts’, can be found at

Source: SHP 30th March 2012