Tag Archives: health and safety fine

Manslaughter Conviction for Brighton Developer and Foreman

Money is a motivator for both good and bad health and safety working. If you cut corners enough and get lucky with the law and potential tragedy you can save a packet on any project. The problem with that, even if you have no conscience, is that big fines await those that get caught. If a sense of humanity or the fear of a financial penalty is not enough to ensure due diligence then maybe a manslaughter conviction might work.

Mike Holland and his foreman Grant Oakes will find out their fate when they appear at Lewes Crown Court on 21st July 2017. Both were convicted the other day of manslaughter in the case of David Clark.

Mr Clark, 55, had been working on a stable conversion when he fell through a gap in the first floor. He was there working as a carpenter and died a month after the incident in September 2014.

Holland is the sole director of Cherrywood Investments Ltd, he and Oakes were found to have been grossly negligent to the point that it qualified as manslaughter. The prosecutor said it had been a complex case to bring to trial and evidence was heard of previously ignored HSE warnings.

Gail Purdy of the CPS said: ‘ From the evidence gathered, it became clear both men visited the site regularly and would have seen the conditions, which included work being carried out with voids that someone could fall through, but they did nothing to prevent this happening.’

Evidence was also heard that after being inspected in 2013 the specific dangers to those working at height had been raised with Holland and Oakes. Oakes attended training in safety on the subject as a result but little had changed.

Mr Clark suffered head injuries in the fall and died in hospital. The company was also found guilty of associated breaches in health and safety legislation.

Lessons Learned

The obvious one about not being able to escape your responsibilities if tragedy strikes. Another obvious one about not ignoring HSE warnings and finally for us as workers if it doesn’t seem safe then maybe the paycheck is not worth it. The latter point is all to easy to say yet when the mortgage payment is due? It is valid nonetheless. Simply put, these things should not be happening in 2017. Murphy’s Law springs to mind, I would have thought that at least would be ingrained by now.

Take Care

Chris Hodge

 

Council Routinely Removed Safety Guards

At a recent hearing Nottingham city council admitted fault when one of their workers suffered hand injuries. According to healthandsafetyatwork.com one of their employees was trying to unclog a lawn mower when his right index finger was severed and other fingers on his hand were damaged.

Screen shot of the source article
The 22 year old worker was on site at a Seagrave Primary School on 21 August 2014.

During an investigation the HSE found that safety guards were routinely removed by council staff in order to access blockages more readily. This was against the recommendations of the manufacturers. In short, a flared guard that covered ejected clippings was replaced by a simple hinged gate much closer to the rotating blade. Granted you had to have the blade rotating in order to get any serious injury.

The council was fined £33,000 with an order to pay £12,000 costs. They were also criticised for failing to supervise apprentices and failing to properly train people in using the lawnmowers.

There are pictures of the modification but I am not sure of the permission to use issue. Below is the source reference. The lessons should be obvious. If you pick up a bit of kit that has been modified be suspicious. Never trust electric tape, duct tap, bolted on bits or empty bolt holes…ah, if it looks messed with leave it to the idiot that messed with it.

Source: Click here. 

Regards

Chris Hodge

 

Curtain-Side Trailer Death Could Have Been Prevented

63 year old, William Price, was converting a curtain-sided trailer into a flat bed when the frame he was removing fell. Mr Price suffered injuries to his head and died. Wolverhampton Crown Court was told that  ATE Truck and Trailer Sales had commissioned the scrap metal dealer to remove the excess frame. It was while Mr Price cut the roof off that the 500 kg structure collapsed.

The firm defended the allegation that there had never been any risk assessment of such activities. They pointed out that in the past the operation had been successfully carried out using two workers and a sling. The judge felt that not formally conducting a risk assessment was a sufficient breach in order to convict. The firm was fined £475,000, plus £20,000 costs and this was in addition to the £100,000 price tag of their defence.

picture of aman with long hair in his 60s
On 21st Feb 2013, Mr Price, 63, died while converting a curtain-side trailer. Click the picture to link to the original article.

Judge Barry Berlin, said: ‘The requirement of a risk assessment in circumstances like these is not just good practice but a fundamental and mandatory legal requirement. This was a plainly hazardous activity.’

The lack of a formal risk assessment is a factor that runs through so many of these cases. It is almost as if there is a degree of belief that self employed people are not subject to the risk assessments of the employing firm. I am not saying who was at fault, the court case was specific to the incident. I am saying that while self employed people are on site they must be aware of any risk assessment the employing firm has undertaken. If there isn’t a written assessment they shouldn’t commence the work.

Take care,

 

Chris Hodge

It Will Be Right. Firm Fined After Worker Buried in Trench Collapse

I hope my meagre attempts to highlight failings in health and safety convey my intentions. Each incident shows what can go wrong, each incident is a lesson and a reminder. I work for firms and work with people who have a job to do. My job is to minimise the risks. Articles like this are not about hammering errant operators or criticising mistakes with the full force of hindsight. I just hope that by expanding the reach of tragic cases we can collectively prevent them happening again. This one is a case of ‘ It will be right.’

A nine foot deep trench that was being dug for drainage collapsed on a worker as he was guiding an excavator. The 43 year old was working for Wallace Roofing & Building Ltd who are based in Fife, Scotland. The drainage was needed to connect a new extension on an old property but the job was obstructed by a large boulder. The worker got down and was guiding the excavator when the unsupported wall caved in. Colleagues managed to dig him clear enough to breath until emergency services arrived.  His injuries included a puncture to both lungs.

It took 6 years to get the ruling and a fine of £14,000 was imposed. A Unite spokesman, Steven Dillon, criticised the fine on the grounds that it was too small to send a strong enough message. I don’t disagree with him in principle, however, my concern is more simple. Trench walls can collapse, we know this. The older ones amongst us need to tell the youngsters and we should have it in our minds moment to moment.  In addition to the risk posed by the trench walls here a digger was added. The extra weight and vibration should have sounded alarm bells.

‘It Will Be Right’

I admire a can do spirit. Really I am in awe sometimes of the people who put things up and dig things down, but into many is set this attitude of ‘ It will be Right.’ Weight, vibration and an unstable, unsupported trench or tunnel…don’t get in it and don’t let anyone else get in it. It won’t always be right.’

Regards

Chris Hodge

Full article Click Here

See similar case study articles:

Water Risks. The Worst Health and Safety Fail that looked Safe. Click here

Australian Firm Fined for Power Line Injuries. Click here