Friday 6 January 2012

Composite container manufacturer CBT Packaging fined after a worker's hand was injured

Line supervisor Lynda Jackson's hand became trapped when using cleaning paper to dry machine parts after the paper got caught between two glue rollers and her right hand was pulled into the machine, severing two fingers on 22 March 2011.Click here to find out more!

Following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the company was fined £12,000, with costs of £4,971.45. HSE Inspector Julie Rayner said: "Lynda Jackson was failed by the company's lack of proper training, inadequate assessment of risks, an absence of safe working practices and preventing access to dangerous equipment. It is simply unacceptable that this lady should be injured at work as a consequence of her employer's negligence. I hope other employers take note of this case and review their own processes."

The investigation found that, although the company's stated policy was not to clean the gluing machine while its rollers were rotating, it was standard practice to ignore this. Basildon Magistrates' Court was told staff were not given adequate training in how to clean the machine safely, and the guard it had been fitted with was not well enough maintained to prevent access to the rollers.

Jackson was off work for approximately two months but has been told the nerve damage she suffered to her fingers may be permanent.

CBT Packaging was not available for comment.

Source: Print Week 6th Jan 2012

Thursday 5 January 2012

More senior managers prosecuted for health and safety failings

The number of directors and senior managers prosecuted under section 37 of the HSWA 1974 has rocketed by more than 400 per cent in the last five years, according to unofficial figures released by the HSE in response to a freedom of information (FoI) request.

In October last year, solicitor Lee Hughes asked the regulator a number of questions regarding prosecutions of individual directors over the last 12 years. The figures reported back to Mr Hughes show that 43 directors and/or senior managers and company secretaries were prosecuted under s37 of the HSWA in 2010/11* – the highest since 1999/2000. The total also represents a significant increase on the 12-year-period’s low of 10 prosecutions under s37 in 2005/06, and follows the period’s previous high of 36 – recorded in both 2008/09 and 2009/10.

The total number of individuals convicted under s37 in 2010/11 was 35 – a substantial increase on the five convictions secured in 2005/06.*

Interestingly, of the senior managers and directors prosecuted in 2010/11, seven faced charges as a result of an investigation that followed a fatal incident; 15 were prosecuted for offences that resulted from an investigation where there had not been a fatal incident; and 21 resulted from an investigation where no incident of any nature had occurred.

Following conviction, three directors were disqualified for periods of between four and five years under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986. Data in relation to this matter were not available prior to 2008/09, a year in which three directors were also disqualified. None was disqualified in 2009/10.

Disqualification is not confined to s37 breaches; other reasons could include breaches of sections 3(2), 7, 8 and 36 of the 1974 Act, as well as contravention of Improvement or Prohibition Notices. Nevertheless, a general lack of awareness among HSE operations directors and their local-authority counterparts of the 1986 Act provisions was highlighted in an influential research report prepared for the HSE in 2007 by academics at the University of Warwick.

The research, which looked at the period between the 1986 Act coming into force and 2005, concluded that just 10 directors had been disqualified for health and safety reasons over this timespan – a figure dwarfed by the 1500, or so, directors disqualified for insolvency, or other financial reasons over the same period.

In September last year, the Lib Dems put forward a policy paper at their party conference, advocating that the power to disqualify an individual from being a company director should be extended to serious failure to protect employees’ well-being.

Moreover, despite calls for the Institute of Directors/HSE code of practice on directors’ duties to be made statutory, it remains voluntary.

* The HSE cautions that this data has not been validated and may not be completely accurate.

Source: SHP 04 January 2012

Disqualify directors who ignore well-being, say Lib Dems

Company directors should be disqualified for serious cases of failing to protect their employees’ well-being, according to a new policy paper from the Liberal Democrats.

Presented at the party’s annual conference in Septmber 2011, the paper details the Lib Dems’ proposals to improve people’s quality of life and well-being. Several proposals concern the workplace, with the party recognising that employers should take action to make their workplaces better environments in which to work, and measure this through employee satisfaction.

It suggests, for example, that employers should implement measures that allow staff to gain a sense of control over how they carry out the task they are doing, and increase flexible-working arrangements. By 2014, it wants to see the 9000, or so largest organisations – which, together, employ half of the UK workforce – report on employee satisfaction and the extent of flexible working.

It also believes that a new National Institute for Well-being should be set up and tasked with creating a way to report this information in an accessible way, so that employers will be encouraged to use it to improve their well-being performance.

Although the Lib Dems argue that these policies should be implemented through cultural change rather than compulsion, the party does believe that the existing power to disqualify an individual from being a company director for financial impropriety should be extended to serious failure to protect employees’ well-being.

According to an HSE-commissioned report published in 2007 on the effectiveness of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986, company directors are almost 300 times more likely to be disqualified by a court from acting as a director for financial reasons than for breaching health and safety rules. Researchers from the University of Warwick found that, up to 2005, just ten directors had been disqualified for health and safety breaches, while some 1500 were disqualified for insolvency, or other financial reasons over the same period.

In a speech at the Liberal Democrat conference, the party’s deputy leader, Simon Hughes, said “a new attitude to work could make the biggest change” to quality of life and well-being.

He said: “In the UK, we have one of the most unequal distributions of work in the developed world. Almost four out of every ten men and nearly one out of every eight women work more than 45 hours a week – more than twice as many as our western European neighbours.

“This is a particular problem in the financial sector and at the top of large businesses, where many people work extremely long hours accumulating huge amounts of money, which they barely have the time to spend. At the same time, we also have one of the highest rates of people who work less than 20 hours a week.”

Calling for a radical redistribution of work, he added: “Overwork has hugely damaging consequences for families, relationships and the quality of personal and community life. Lack of work is one of the biggest causes of poverty and poor physical and mental health.”

He concluded: “If we really want to make a difference to quality of life in our country, we need also to tackle inequality of wealth by tackling inequality of work.”

Despite calls for the Institute of Directors/HSE code of practice on directors’ duties to be made statutory, it remains voluntary.

Source: SHP 22 September 2011