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Construction company and employee sentenced after worker killed

Construction company and employee sentenced after worker killed

Clancy Docwra Limited and one of its employees have been sentenced for health and safety breaches after another worker was struck by an excavator and was killed.

Southward Crown Court was told how site operative Kevin Campbell was struck by an excavator mounted vibrator (EMV) attached to a 35-tonne excavator that he was working in close proximity too. The incident happened during a night shift on a construction site in Stratford on 2 March 2014.

Mr Campbell had been disconnecting lifting accessories from a metal pile that had just been extracted from the ground when he was crushed against a concrete wall a short distance away. He died from his injuries. Another site operative who was directly next to him also faced a risk of being struck, the court heard.

Investigating, the HSE found the construction company which was the principal contractor; Clancy Docwra Limited, failed to ensure the safety so far as is reasonably practicable of its employees and of others who were not their employees working on the site. The investigation also found that Daniel Walsh, who was the site supervisor for the site and the person operating the excavator at the time, failed to take reasonable care for other persons on site at the time.

Clancy Docwra Limited of Coppermill Lane, Harefield, Middlesex pleaded not guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £1,000,000 and ordered to pay costs of £108,502.30.

Daniel Walsh of Eastcote, Orpington, Kent pleaded not guilty to breaching Section 7(a) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was given a six-month custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months and ordered to pay costs of £15,000.

Following the hearing, HSE Inspector Darren Alldis said: “This death was wholly preventable and serves as a reminder as to why it is so important for companies and individuals to take their responsibilities to protect others seriously and to take the simple actions necessary to eliminate and minimise risks.

“If the risks had been properly considered by the company, and simple and appropriate control measures were put in place, then the likelihood of such an incident occurring would have been significantly reduced. Informing all site operatives of the specific risks they face when carrying out such tasks and the control measures required of exclusion zones, the importance of communication and the mandatory use of excavator safety levers were simple actions that should have been put in place and their effectiveness monitored.

“All those with legal responsibilities must be clear that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action including where appropriate prosecution against those that fall below the required standards”.

Source Material

Construction company and employee sentenced after worker killed


Over five million UK workers could be suffering from a mental health condition

Over five million UK workers could be suffering from a mental health condition

The British Safety Council published its new literature review, Not just free fruit: wellbeing at work, in December 2018. Shehzana Mamujee, Policy and Research Analyst at British Safety Council, tells SHP about some of the findings.

A ubiquitous ‘catch-all’ term, ‘wellbeing’ is nowadays used to refer to everything: from a good diet, to a positive experience, to the protection of those suffering serious mental health conditions. While occupational safety remains a key priority for employers across all sectors, there is growing public awareness of the impact health and wellbeing has on individuals, organisations and society as a whole.  The latest research estimates that over five million UK workers could be suffering from a mental health condition each year.[1]

Examining current literature on occupational health and wellbeing, Not just free fruit seeks to define ‘wellbeing’ in workplace contexts, exploring the term’s varying connotations and applications. Furthermore, it serves as a call to action for all senior leaders and executives, no matter the size or sector of their organisations. Workers’ health and wellbeing can no longer be relegated to the bottom of managers’ ‘to do lists’, absent from strategy meetings, exempt from financial forecasts. The Centre of Economic and Business Research predicts that the cost of sickness absence will increase to £21bn in 2020.[2] The link between wellbeing and productivity is undeniable and calculable. It cannot be ignored.

At the British Safety Council, we believe ‘no-one should be injured or made ill through their work’. This means protecting workers from hazards and risks, and providing an environment which enables them to address issues arising in the workplace and elsewhere. These steps include not only traditional health benefits but, crucially, the conditions characterising the working day: workload, collegiality, autonomy and salary, to name a few.

Calling for the government to ‘place equal importance on the quality of work as it does on the quantity’, 2017’s Good Work: The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices recognised that ‘“quality of work” needs to be more clearly understood, defined and measured’.[3] In February 2018, the government’s Good Work Plan committed to enacting the Taylor Review’s recommendation that it ‘should identify a set of metrics against which it will measure success in improving work, reporting annually on the quality of work on offer in the UK’. Alongside physical injury and mental health, these measures include, among others, ‘job security’, line manager relationship’ and ‘satisfaction with pay’, all of which, this review argues, constitute wellbeing at work.

Covering such topics as ‘types of wellbeing interventions’, ‘health, wellbeing and productivity’, ‘good work and wellbeing’, ‘workplace bullying’ and ‘mental wellbeing’, Not just free fruit includes a number of case studies, from BAE Systems to our own British Safety Council. Our aim is to demonstrate the ways in which organisations currently implement initiatives designed to protect and improve workers’ wellbeing, with examples of best practice.

Not just free fruit also offers information about two major schemes, VitalityHealth’s Britain’s Healthiest Workplace, and the Workplace Wellbeing Charter, which have been established to help organisations carry out successful wellbeing interventions and evaluate their impact. You can find more information about them here:

Only about 1 in 6 (17%) organisations evaluate the impact of their health and wellbeing initiatives.[4] Both Britain’s Healthiest Workplace and the Workplace Wellbeing Charter provide easy, supportive ways of addressing this problem.

The review ends by examining the work being carried out on the public policy front. The ‘wellbeing premium’ is a proposed wellbeing grant, championed by Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk, Norman Lamb. The grant aims to free up resource for organisations to invest in wellbeing initiatives, which may prove significant for some companies, especially micro-firms and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The ‘wellbeing premium’ is currently being trialled in the West Midlands, under the Thrive at Work programme:

Wellbeing at work is here to stay. It means physical, emotional and mental health. This review interrogates the physiology and psychology of the working environment, with the twin aims of directing the employer to arrangements which protect wellbeing, while also helping all workers. Keeping your workers healthy means keeping your company healthy, creating the conditions for successful economic growth and productivity. Alongside their safety, workers’ health and wellbeing need to be placed firmly at the top of the executive’s agenda.

Source Material

‘Over five million UK workers could be suffering from a mental health condition each year’

HAVS diagnosis leads to sentencing for firm and director

HAVS diagnosis leads to sentencing for firm and director

A rock drilling and cliff stabilisation firm and its director have been sentences after multiple workers were diagnosed with hand arm vibration syndrome.

Three employees of Celtic Rock Services Limited developed and reported symptoms of hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), but no action was taken. The workers regularly used tools such as rock drills and jack hammers for cliff stabilisation work, which was often carried out while abseiling down a cliff face.

The workers reported symptoms such as pins and needles and aching hands which, in one case, had been going in since 2000. However, not until 2016 was an occupational nurse employed and the problem identified.

An HSE investigation discovered that the risk assessment did not identify the actual exposure to vibration and had used out of date vibration data. It also uncovered that there was no health surveillance in place until 2016 and employees were not made aware of HAVS and its symptoms. When symptoms were reported, the company had failed to take action.

Celtic Rock Services Limited of Bossell Road, Buckfastleigh, Devon pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company has been fined £36,667 and ordered to pay costs of £3,560.

Alwyn Griffith Hughes Thomas, Director of the company, also of Bossell Road, Buckfastleigh, Devon pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. He has been given a 12-week custodial sentence, suspended for one year, a 12-week curfew and ordered to pay costs of £3,560.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Caroline Penwill said: “This was a case of the company and its director completely failing to grasp the importance of HAVS risk assessment and health surveillance.

“If they had understood why health surveillance was necessary, it would have ensured that it had the right systems in place to monitor workers health and the employees’ conditions would not have been allowed to develop, one of which was to a severe, life altering stage.”

Source Material

HAVS diagnosis leads to sentencing for firm and director

Network Rail have paid out £1m for slips trips and falls

Network Rail has paid £1m for slips, trips and falls in past five years

In the past financial five years, Network Rail has paid a total of £1m for slips, trips and falls across UK stations, according to research conducted by the BBC.

Network Rail is in charge of 11 stations in London, and 20 across the rest of the UK.

The highest fine given was £36,392, after a passenger “slipped on liquid and landed heavily on their right hip” at Charing Cross station. The lowest fine was £10, after a passenger slipped on ice at an entrance to Victoria Station, and suffered personal injuries and damages to their suit.

The most recent case was a fine of £27,602, after a passenger slipped on pigeon faeces at Paddington station. Overall, there has been four fines given to Network Rail in the past five years, as a result of passengers slipping on bird faeces.

Phillip Thrower, Head of Claims and Insurance at Network Rails emphasised that. “with tens of millions of people using our stations every day, only a tiny fraction of a percent experience a mishap”.

Over half of the £1m total fines were made due to accidents at the following stations:

  • Euston– a passenger received £35,721 for slipping.
  • Paddington– a passenger received £36.392 for slipping.
  • Liverpool Street– a passenger received £28,000 after suffering a “possible lacerated finger”.

Victoria station had the highest number of successful claims paid out by Network Rails. Guilford and Glasgow Central were the only stations managed by Network Rails, that did not have compensation claims.

“If we are at fault for causing damage or injury to anyone, we rightly compensate them for those accidents and put in place new ways of working to stop them from happening again”, expressed Phillip.

Source material

Network Rail has paid £1m for slips, trips and falls in past five years

Veolia fine: £1m after reversing vehicle death

A refuse collection company has been fined £1m after a worker was run over and killed.

Canterbury Crown Court heard how, on 18 October 2013, Veolia ES (UK) Limited’s employee Mr John Head suffered fatal injuries when he was run over by a reversing refuse collection vehicle (RCV) whilst he was walking across the yard, at the Ross Depot Waste Transfer Station in Folkestone. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The HSE’s investigation found that multiple vehicles, including RCVs and articulated lorries, were manoeuvring around the yard with no specific controls.

The company failed to adequately assess the risks involved in the yard and did not implement industry recognised control measures to protect employees.

Veolia ES (UK) Limited of Pentonville Road, London was found guilty after a trial of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was fined £1 million and ordered to pay costs of £130,000.

HSE Inspector Kevin Golding said: “This should be a reminder to all industries, but in particular, the waste industry, to appropriately assess the risks and implement widely recognised control measures to adequately control manoeuvring vehicles, in particular reversing vehicles and restrict pedestrian movements around vehicles.”

According to the latest set of annual workplace fatality figures, released by the HSE, there were 12 fatal injuries to waste and recycling workers between April 2017 and March 2018.

Waste disposal: Highest fatality at work rate of any industrial sector

A round -up of the biggest health and safety court cases from December 2018.



Nearly half of SME workers quit jobs because of stress

Nearly half of people working in small and medium-sized (SMEs) businesses have quit their jobs because of work-related frustrations and stress, according to a new survey.

A survey for the software firm Profess Bliss found 38% of people surveyed said working for a small business was more stressful than working for a bigger firm.

A third of those surveyed said having to chase colleagues for updates was their main source of work-related stress, while 31% said it was a lack of information or clarity when asked to do something.

emailOther sources of workplace stress cited were a lack of control over a situation (28%), a lack of guidance/direction from the boss (26%) and a lack of response to emails (25%).

And 42% of people working for SMEs said they had changed jobs and a third admitted to having called in sick because of work-related frustrations and stresses.

“Many of these issues come from people not being given sufficient training or a functioning process to follow that enables them to do their job well,” said Process Bliss’s CEO, Alister Esam, CEO.

“At the same time, managers are checking up on, and micro-managing staff because they have no way of seeing whether employees are following that process correctly. This harassment is stressful, contributing to a culture of mistrust and causing people working at SMEs to leave in significant numbers.”

In addition, the survey also reveals almost two-thirds (63%) of people who work for an SME are not clear about all of their company’s processes and training.

Nearly half (43%) said their company had lost customers because of failed processes.

“Doing more to reduce stress in the workplace is hugely important and should be a key priority for SME bosses during 2019 – staff retention is vital,” added Esam.

“Employees do their best work when they are motivated, engaged, trusted and work in a reduced-stress environment and leave a job when they are unhappy and demotivated. Workplace stress can come from many different sources and while no boss can eliminate stress completely, there are lots of measures that can be put in place to ensure day-to-day frustrations are reduced.”

The full report – Causes and implications of workplace stress in SMEs – is available online.


Asbestos in schools: MPs ‘seriously concerned’ about lack of information

Almost a quarter of schools have still not told the Government how much asbestos is in their school buildings, according to a new report.

The report by the influential public accounts (PAC) parliamentary select committee reveals that only 77% of schools have responded to a Department for Education (DfE) survey, despite it being extended several times.

According to the report, 23% of schools have yet to respond and the committee remains “seriously concerned” about the “lack of information and assurance about asbestos in school buildings”.

It also calls on the Government to “name and shame” any schools that miss next month’s deadline.

The DfE launched its ‘asbestos management survey’ in March 2018, after the group of MPs first raised concerns about the lack of data in 2017.

Originally, the ministry asked schools to respond by 31 May 2018 and then extended the deadline to July 2018.

The survey was then re-opened in November and schools have until 15 February to complete it.

“Asbestos in schools can pose a significant threat to the health of pupils, staff and visitors. Where the risks are not being managed correctly, Government must be prepared to step in,” said committee chair, Meg Hillier.

“It is not acceptable for schools to continue ignoring requests for details of asbestos in their buildings. The DfE must name and shame schools that fail to meet its February deadline.
“Government needs to be clear how asbestos removal will be funded as it is not possible for schools to fund this from their existing budgets,” added Ms Hillier.

The chair of the Asbestos in Schools Group, Emma Hardy commented: “Nearly 90% of our schools still contain asbestos – and this is putting pupils and staff at risk of developing fatal illnesses in later life. The PAC has rightly criticised Government’s inadequate approach to asbestos management.

“What is needed is a Government funded phased removal of all asbestos in schools, starting with the most dangerous first. This is the only way to ensure the safety of school staff and most importantly pupils. As the Chair of the Asbestos in Schools group, I will be pressing the Government to commit the necessary funding for this’.”

A spokesperson for the DfE said: “The majority of academies are delivering a great education and – as recognised by the PAC – we are taking robust action in the small minority of cases where they are not meeting the high standards expected.”

The full committee report is available to read here.

Asbestos in schools: Failures lead to over £100,000 in fines