The manufacturing industries have been under the spotlight for enforcement action over recent months with a focus on falls from height, management of contractors and poor machine design & guarding. These topics are key issues covered by the CDM Regulations 2015 and are encountered when undertaking new projects and routine engineering maintenance work. The introduction of the Sentencing Guidelines in 2016 has further compounded the impact of prosecutions as seen in the significant rise in the magnitude of fines imposed for health and safety breaches, placing greater importance in securing the right advice and support, before embarking on new projects or just seeking to gain assurance for your existing controls and management arrangements. A few of the recent cases which raise important matter for consideration are set out below:
Fatal Fall from Height resulting in £2.5m fine
An organisation who appointed a specialist air conditioning contractor was found guilty following the fatal fall of a worker, despite their defence that they relied on the competence of that specialist contactor, who should have identified missing barriers. The investigation found that there were no barriers in place to prevent falls, a restricted workplace and several tripping hazards. The judgement found that the company hiring the specialist contractor has a duty to ensure that effective, preventative and protective measures are put in place. The company also had a duty to ensure that those they appoint are capable of carrying out the work, understand the risks and control measures and have the right equipment for the work.
Supplier of Meat Products fined £366,666 for Dangerous Machinery
A worker was loading meat into a separating machine when he slipped & fell causing his hand to enter the machine. He suffered serious injuries to his hand and required multiple operations and skin grafts. The Health & Safety Executive found the company had failed to provide an appropriate level of guarding to avoid access to moving parts and implement a suitable safe system of work.
Engineer Jailed for Gross Negligence Manslaughter
An engineer who failed to complete an automated gate installation which later fell on the occupier killing them has been sentenced to three and half years in prison for manslaughter by gross negligence. The engineer’s employer was fined £12,000 for breaching the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008. The gate had not been fitted with safety-stop devices which would have prevented it from sliding off a steel track. This case clearly demonstrates that both individuals and companies could face prosecution in the event of an accident.
Bakery fined £70,000 for Inadequate Guarding
Two workers suffered hand injuries in two separate incidents at a gluten-free bakery. The first worker lost the top of a finger when it was caught in the moving blade of a dough dividing machine. The second worker’s finger injury was caused when it came into contact with the cutting jaws of a wrapping machine. An investigation carried out by the Health & Safety Executive found that the machines had not been designed with adequate guarding and the company had failed to carry out site acceptance tests resulting in a £70,000 fine.
Lack of Pedestrian Segregation results in £500,000 Fine
A worker at a glass bottle manufacturer was struck by a forklift truck sustaining a broken arm. The Health and Safety Executive found that the company had failed to effectively segregate pedestrians from forklift trucks traffic routes. The company had previously been served with an improvement notice because of poor segregation in their warehouse and yard in 2007. They had not only failed to properly plan work but also failed to learn from the past. Accidents relating to work place transport can be avoided if effective measures are put in place.
£55,000 for Partial Amputation of Hand
An agency worker cleaning near a screw conveyor machine became entrapped in exposed parts of the machine. The worker suffered a partial amputation to his hand. The investigation found that guarding which prevents workers coming into contact with the machine’s moving parts, was inadequate. Duty holders have a responsibility to ensure all machinery has an appropriate level of guarding to danger areas for safe operation but also for cleaning and maintenance as well.
Manufacturer fined £1M for Fatal Fall from Ladder
A self-employed contractor suffered fatal injuries when he fell from a stepladder whilst he was wiring a motor above a machine. The HSE inspector found that the company had failed to properly plan the activity including arrangements for access and although the company policy required a risk assessment and method statement, the Project Manager allowed the contractor to work without supplying them. The permit to work stated that the task was at a height of two metres whereas it was actually at three metres. The contractor was also not being supervised and used a stepladder that was inadequate for the task. Company standards should have been adhered to and a thorough review of a risk assessment and method statement would have ensured that the hazards were properly identified and the right equipment and controls selected for the task.
Issued by C.G Lawson: SRC
© Steel River Consultants Ltd – 2017