HSE International

Company fined after worker killed in offshore incident

An offshore services company has been fined for serious safety failings following an incident in which a worker died after plunging 23 metres from a platform into the sea.

Lee Bertram, then 37, from Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, was working for Bilfinger Salamis UK Limited on a platform in the North Sea when the incident happened on 16 June 2011.

Mr Bertram was using ropes to access below the deck and carry out a sweep for dropped objects that could fall into the water, potentially injuring divers working in the sea below.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard today (2 Feb) that Mr Bertram had successfully abseiled around an area about eight square feet taking photographs and removing debris. He then started back up the ropes and was a metre from the top when he noticed a beam clamp that needed to be removed, which he did with a hammer.

As Mr Bertram started his ascent to the deck he had to stop, suspended, just below the hatch in order to open the rope protector so he could move his ‘jammer’ up the working rope and past the edge allowing him to move through the hatch.

However, as he pushed down on his foot loop to come up through the hatch both the main and the safety rope sheared against the sharp edge and he fell to the sea – a distance of 23 metres – striking steelwork as he fell.

When he landed in the water, his lifejacket inflated and a rescue vessel was deployed.  Despite showing some signs of consciousness during the rescue he died from his injuries before reaching the onsite hospital.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the job Mr Bertram was undertaking had not been properly planned and was contrary both to industry (IRATA) guidelines and the company’s own procedures.

Inspectors concluded that had the work been properly planned the edge of the hatch would have been identified as being sharp and the risk of rigged ropes coming into contact with it could have been prevented. Instead the ropes were rigged against the edge leading them to be severed.

Bilfinger Salamis UK Limited of Pinbush Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk, was fined £100,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 4 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Following the case, HSE Inspector Katie McCabe, said:

“This was a tragic incident and Mr Bertram’s death could have been prevented had Billfinger Salamis planned the job correctly and put suitable safety measures in place.

“Assessing the risks of that job properly would have identified that the potentially sharp edge presented a very clear danger to anyone suspended and working on ropes rigged against it.

“However, the company failed to do this so failed to take safety precautions and instead, Mr Bertram fell to his death.”

For more information about working safely at height log onto the HSE website at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-at-height/index.htm

Original Source: http://press.hse.gov.uk/2015/company-fined-after-worker-killed-in-offshore-incident/

Five people injured after London double decker bus roof torn off after hitting trees

Five people were injured after a London bus had its roof ripped off today by a tree.

Pictures from the scene showed a double decker with upper-floor seats and handrails visible in Kingsway in the Holborn area of the capital.

It is thought the roof was torn off after the 91 route bus, which normally runs between Crouch End and Trafalgar Square, struck a tree just outside King’s College.

It is thought the roof was torn off after the 91 route bus, which normally runs between Crouch End and Trafalgar Square, struck a tree just outside King’s College.

Five people were injured after a London double decker bus had its roof ripped off today

Five people were injured after a London double decker bus had its roof ripped off today

Pictures on Twitter showed a double decker with upper-floor seats and handrails visible in Kingsway in the Holborn area of the capital

Pictures on Twitter showed a double decker with upper-floor seats and handrails visible in Kingsway in the Holborn area of the capital

Four injured after roof of London double decker bus ripped off

Shards of glass from the windows of the bus also littered the road, with the roof trailing behind the vehicle at an angle, as stunned passengers were seen still sitting on the ruined top deck.

Two people had to be taken to hospital with facial injuries, while another three were treated at the scene – next to a sign warning of overhanging trees.

A London Ambulance Service spokesman said: ‘We treated five patients. We treated two patients for facial injuries, they were taken to St Thomas’s Hospital.

‘We treated two patients for minor injuries, they were not taken to hospital. We treated another patient for a knee injury. This patient was discharged at the scene.’

It is thought the roof was torn off after the bus struck a tree

It is thought the roof was torn off after the bus struck a tree

Scotland Yard said three bus passengers and a motorist had been injured in the collision
The aftermath of the collision

Scotland Yard said bus passengers and a motorist had been injured in the collision

London Fire Brigade said on Twitter: ‘We are at the scene of an accident on #Kingsway Holborn. A bus has lost its roof. Thankfully only minor injuries.’

At the scene London Fire Brigade station manager Gary Squires said: ‘Those involved were very lucky to escape serious injury.’

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: ‘Three passengers on the bus and one motorist – are currently being treated at the scene. We await further details.

‘Inquiries are under way to ascertain the circumstances of the collision.’

The crash site was next to a sign warning of overhanging trees

Two people had to be taken to hospital with facial injuries, while another three were treated at the scene.

Bus routes in the area had to be diverted with the road sealed off between Great Queen St and Aldwych. The Strand underpass was also closed and motorists reported long queues in the surrounding areas.

Builder Billy Comfort, 21, who was working across the road from the scene, said: ‘I saw the bus drive into a tree and the roof came off.

‘It was a bit shocking really, the emergency services arrived.

‘There was one gentleman whose nose was bleeding holding a handkerchief to his face. There was a man and a woman at the back of the bus looking petrified.

‘I couldn’t believe it, it’s not what you expect to see on a Monday. I could see a man at the front of the bus and this couple at the back who stayed seated there for 20 minutes to half an hour after the roof came off.’

Ethan Meade posted pictures of the damage, writing: ‘Roof off the 91 bus just ripped off on Kingsway, next to #LSE.’

London School of Economics (LSE) student Mr Meade said he turned around when he heard a crash.

He said: ‘I saw the roof fall down off the side of the bus, and the glass shatter everywhere. The passengers seemed to be sitting there pretty stunned as you’d expect. Police seemed to handle it very well.’

Both police and the fire brigade are currently at the scene of the crash

Both police and the fire brigade are currently at the scene of the crash

Shards of glass from the windows of the bus also littered the road, with the roof trailing behind the vehicle, as stunned passengers were seen still sitting on the ruined top deck

Shards of glass from the windows of the bus also littered the road, with the roof trailing behind the vehicle, as stunned passengers were seen still sitting on the ruined top deck

Lauren Leonard, 29, who works in a nearby office, came out on her lunch break at around 1pm to find chaos in the street.

‘The roof had been completely sliced off,’ she told MailOnline.

‘Everyone was huddling round so it must have happened just before I went outside. The police must have just arrived and they were cordoning off the road.

‘We are all so confused, because people are saying it hit part of a tree, but the tree didn’t seem damaged at all.

‘No one can get down the street. I saw a guy being treated for a bloody nose and another being treated for shock.

‘You never want to get on the top deck of a double decker again – I have never seen anything like it.’

One eyewitness told MailOnline that the tree did not appear to have been damaged in the collision

One eyewitness told MailOnline that the tree did not appear to have been damaged in the collision

Bus routes in the area had to be diverted with the road sealed off between Great Queen St and Aldwych

Bus routes in the area had to be diverted with the road sealed off between Great Queen St and Aldwych

Pictures from the scene suggest that the bus may have clipped a tree overhanging the roadway.

One showed a tree with skinned bark next to a road sign that warned of ‘overhanging trees’ on the inside lane, behind where the bus had come to a halt.

The sign contained a warning that the inside lane was only suitable for vehicles 2.5 metres, or eight feet, three inches, high.

Ken Davidson, Transport for London’s Head of Bus Operations, said: ‘At around 1pm today (2 February) a route 91 bus, operated by Metroline, collided with a tree on Kingsway at the junction with Portugal Street (WC2).

‘Emergency services attended the scene and there will be a full investigation into this incident.’

Pictures from the scene suggest that the bus may have clipped a tree overhanging the roadway

Pictures from the scene suggest that the bus may have clipped a tree overhanging the roadway

Workers from the London Fire Brigade investigate the ruined top deck of the bus 

Workers from the London Fire Brigade investigate the ruined top deck of the bus

At the scene London Fire Brigade station manager Gary Squires said: 'Those involved were very lucky to escape serious injury'

At the scene London Fire Brigade station manager Gary Squires said: ‘Those involved were very lucky to escape serious injury’

Fire crews at the scene of today's double decker crash
Two people were taken to hospital and three others treated at the scene

Fire crews at the scene of today’s double decker crash. Two people were taken to hospital and three others treated at the scene

Transport for London is to launch a full investigation into the incident, which happened at around 1pm

Transport for London is to launch a full investigation into the incident, which happened at around 1pm

Original Source: http://dailym.ai/1wXnX87

Baby bath-seat drowning risk warning

Parents are being warned of the danger of young children drowning in baths, following a small number of deaths and near misses, some linked to bath seats.

One in three accidental drowning deaths in children aged two and below involves bath seats, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents says.

If unsupervised, young children can tip over in a bath seat and become trapped.

Babies and young children should never be left unattended in a bath, public health officials advise.

Each year in the UK, about 13 children younger than five die from drowning.

“Bath seats are a really useful tool, as parents with babies and toddlers sometimes need all the help they can get, and that’s the intention of these products. However, they can lead to a false sense of security.” David Walker Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

 

One in four of these deaths occurs in a bath.

For each drowning fatality, there are eight non-fatal drowning events serious enough to require admission to hospital.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, from Public Health England, said: “If unsupervised, young children can tip over in a bath seat and become trapped or climb out of it, with potentially fatal consequences.

“These seats are used by parents when bathing babies and young children, but they can often be mistaken as safety measures, instead of bathing aids requiring constant adult supervision.

“Babies and young children should never be left unattended in a bath, not even for a minute.”

Katrina Phillips, of the Child Accident Prevention Trust, said babies could drown in just a few centimetres of water, very quickly and with no noise or struggle.

“They can’t recognise danger, and don’t have the strength to try to reach the surface. This means you need to stay with your baby all the time near water.”

David Walker, of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: “Bath seats are a really useful tool, as parents with babies and toddlers sometimes need all the help they can get, and that’s the intention of these products. However, they can lead to a false sense of security.

“Distractions from the phone, other children or someone at the door are really quick events that have led to tragedies. What feels like a couple of seconds can be a minute or two, which is easily enough time for significant injuries or even death to occur.”

Original Source: http://bbc.in/1tVDSsE

Mining deaths in South Africa drop 10% to lowest level ever in 2014

Fatalities in the mining industry have dropped by 10% to the lowest level ever in South Africa’s history, according to Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi.

In 2014, 84 miners were killed, which is down from 93 in 2013. “The breakdown of fatalities per commodity during the year 2014 is as follows: gold, 44; platinum, 15; coal, nine; and other mines, 16,” he told reporters in Pretoria on Friday. Other mines include diamond, chrome, copper, and iron ore mines.

“It is encouraging to note that 2014 mine fatalities are the lowest ever recorded in the history of mining in South Africa,” he added. The decrease in mining fatalities follows the trend set in 2013 when mining deaths dropped from over 100 annually, and Ramatlhodi applauded the sector’s steady progress. In 1993, 615 miners were killed, and the 2014 figure represents an 86% improvement.

2015 is off to a bad start

Nevertheless, 7 workers have already been killed in January 2015, and the minister said “I want to convey my serious concern that we continue to experience loss of life in the sector. It is with deepest regret and sadness that so early in 2015, seven mine workers have already lost their lives.”

Gold and platinum mines are main contributors to accidents and fatalities, he said. “This is regrettable, as we believe that these mines should be at the forefront in terms of the appropriate systems and expertise to enhance health and safety. Workers’ health and safety is crucial to mining’s long-term sustainability, hence our steely resolve to implement enforcement measures in terms of the law.”

Considering the stats

Most mining fatalities (35%) are grouped into “general classification,” which includes inhaling dangerous fumes, being struck by an object, and falling from heights. Meanwhile, falls-of-ground make up 30% and transportation-related deaths account for 17% of fatalities in the industry.

Injuries have also dropped over time, falling about 18%, from 3 123 in 2013, to 2 569 in 2014. However, many reported injuries are not new and are mainly due to repeated accidents. “Although this is the lowest ever reported, the department is still greatly concerned about the high number of injuries reported at our mines,” Ramatlhodi said.

Occupational diseases have decreased by 170% since 2003, from 18 371 to 6 810 cases in 2013. The biggest reductions included pulmonary tuberculosis and noise-induced hearing loss.

“The gold sector continues to report a higher number of occupational diseases than all the other sectors. The poor implementation of health programmes at some mines remains a major concern,” Ramatlhodi said.

Original Source: http://bit.ly/1z5TLNE

Sink or Swim? The global drowning crisis

Every year, nearly 400,000 people round the globe die by drowning, making it one of the world’s most common causes of accidental death.

Now several projects – from playpens to drones – are attempting to tackle the problem.

Unlike malaria and malnutrition, there is no global programme aimed at reducing the death toll from drowning.

Its sporadic nature means prevention can be difficult – patrolling every shore and riverbank would be impossible.

But some things can be done, such as preventing overcrowding on ships and ferries, improving flood defences and having national water safety plans.

And it can often be local efforts that make the real difference.

‘I always worried’

In Bangladesh, up to 45% of deaths in under fives are due to drowning, with as many as 18 children drowning every day.

It is also where one of the most innovative efforts to reduce drowning has been targeted: the Solid (Saving of Lives from Drowning) programme led by researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Researchers there realised that a major cause of drowning there was Bangladeshi mothers being unable to keep an eye on their children while going about their daily work.

Young children would often wander off and find themselves in difficulty after falling into a ditch or pond.

“I was always worried about my son’s safety,” says Laboni Khatun, a mother in northern Bangladesh who lost her son to drowning two months ago.

“There are a lot of ponds and ditches around my house and whenever he went too close I would bring him straight back home.”

A new project aims to prevent young children drowning

Laboni says: “I just don’t know what happened that day.”

The solution developed by the Johns Hopkins team was to create a literal barrier between the children and the dangers of Bangladesh’s many waterways – in the form of locally made wooden and plastic playpens.

They keep children out of danger and give mothers, like Anita Rani Malarkar, much-needed peace of mind when it comes to her daughter’s safety.

“When I didn’t have this playpen, I was always scared about safety because I couldn’t look after her while doing the household chores. Now I don’t have to worry,” she says.

To date over 30,000 have been distributed to families most at risk, but the project is still at a trial phase.

The researchers behind the programme hope to eventually supply 80,000 playpens and save countless children from drowning.

Spreading the word

Nile Swimmers
Dan with a graduating class of Sudanese instructors

The Nile is the longest river in the world, running almost 7,000 km (4,350 miles) through 11 countries in East Africa.

It has provided a livelihood for the people in these countries since ancient times, but those that depend on it are all too familiar with the risks of the river.

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How to save yourself from drowning

Lifebuoy

If you fall into water:

– Try to remain calm

– Get on your back and attempt to float

– Try to conserve as much energy as possible

If you come across someone drowning:

– Call for help

– Never enter the water to rescue someone else

– Try to pull them in from the shore or throw them a flotation aid

Advice from the UK Royal Lifesaving Society

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In Khartoum, Sudan, where the White and Blue Nile meet, civil defence pull a body from the 150 mile stretch of river surrounding the city every day.

Some suggest the true toll of drowning may be even higher.

UK-based Dan Graham heads up the charity Nile Swimmers, which works in Sudan training lifesaving and swimming instructors to work in communities that live on the Nile.

Dan explains the impact that one motivated student of his, Al Rashid, had on his community.

“He was brimming with energy during his training and when he finished, went home and taught every child in his village to swim. He then went on to the next village and trained all the children there.”

“That’s one man, without any resources, who has trained hundreds of children to be safer around water in their daily lives.”

Nile Swimmers supports instructor-trainees to select techniques that are appropriate and relevant to their local situation, but Dan is conscious of the challenges of expanding the scheme.

“We’ve seen from our own work in Sudan and from similar programmes in other countries what can be achieved for relatively little money in relatively small schemes.

“Nobody has yet managed to expand these programmes to a country-wide, or even continent-wide scale. For that, more funding is required.”

Drones for drowning?

Drones are used for everything from shooting films to monitoring livestock, but now two Iranian engineers are attempting to use drones to rescue people in danger of drowning

With nearly 400 drowning off the Caspian coast of their country the every year, roboticist Amin Rigi and engineer Amir Tahiri decided to look at how they might alleviate the problem.

“We attempted to create a submersible robot, then a surface based robot, before we realised that a flying robot was the best approach.” recalls Amin.

The PARS lifesaving robot
This drone could save your life

PARS, as their new robot is called, is designed to work by flying out to potential drowning victims and dropping life rings allowing people in the water to stay afloat until they can be rescued.

The current prototype model is remote controlled, and boasts a range of four kilometres, with the ability to rescue to four people at once.

Search lights allow it to perform night rescues, and it can be launched from both the shore and from the decks of ships.

Their tests have shown that it can perform a rescue four times faster than a human lifeguard.

First generation robots will begin operations in Brazil, Italy and Mexico in April this year.

The current model costs $9,185 (€8,100) a unit but Amin hopes the next generation will be cheaper.

He also hopes future models will be able to perform rescues with less human input, eventually performing fully automated rescues.

Original Source: http://bbc.in/1LDtbR8

Lords urged to scrap ‘misguided’ Deregulation Bill clause

The world’s largest professional body in occupational safety, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), is calling for the removal of Clause 1 of the Government’s Deregulation Bill.

As it stands, the clause would make certain self-employed workers exempt from health and safety law.

IOSH and other professional occupational safety and health organisations have raised concerns that exemption could lead to confusion, lower standards and increase the risk of injury and illness at work.

Peers previously voted in favour of keeping Clause 1 as part of the Bill in October 2014 but will have a further opportunity to examine it during a debate in the House of Lords on Tuesday 3 February.

During the previous debate a claim was made that Professor Ragnar Löfstedt – the author of a Government report into reforms to the UK’s health and safety system – was content with Clause 1. IOSH points out that this position has since been refuted by Professor Löfstedt.

IOSH has also highlighted that further research and a final impact assessment into the implementation of Clause 1 are still not publicly available.

Richard Jones, head of policy and public affairs at IOSH, said: “IOSH firmly believes this exemption is unnecessary, unhelpful and unwise – causing confusion and potentially putting people’s lives at risk.

“Rather than introducing a complex, unworkable and potentially dangerous two-tier system, we’ve suggested the Government instead follows the lead of NGOs, like IOSH, and provides struggling businesses with free support.

“It is concerning that, even at this late stage in the process, the further research that was planned and final-stage impact assessment are still not publicly available. We don’t believe this is consistent with well-considered and evidence-based policy-making, which the UK’s record high numbers of self-employed deserve.

“We urge the Lords to understand the serious and growing stakeholder concerns about this ill-conceived exemption from a wide range of employer, employee and professional bodies. We ask that the Lords acknowledge the benefits of the UK’s current simple, inclusive and risk-based system; recognise that these exemption proposals aren’t supported by Professor Löfstedt; and recommend removal of this misguided and potentially dangerous clause.”

Clause 1 of the Deregulation Bill as it stands will amend health and safety law to exempt certain self-employed from the general health and safety duty for themselves and non-employees, except if undertaking ‘prescribed activities’.

These proposals intend to rely on an extended prescribed list of high hazard or high risk sector activities – like in agriculture and construction – but will knowingly exempt many self-employed who may pose a risk to others.

IOSH says the clause goes far beyond the Löfstedt recommendation, which only proposed exempting those self-employed whose ‘work activities pose no potential risk of harm to others’.

Original Source: http://bit.ly/1voMf0Y

Health and safety: The fine art of making life safer

The number of people killed in accidents is lower than ever – a trend that is, to coin a phrase, no accident.

It’s something we have all done, tutting at bans on conkers, hanging baskets and open-toed shoes in offices. How easy it is to mock the excesses of “elf ‘n’ safety” in a tone of knowing exasperation. How much harder to find out whether these stories are the product of zealous officialdom, or are misunderstandings, excuses made up by small businesses – or even sensible and well-founded precautions.

We know that the supposed excesses of health and safety legislation and its enforcers make easy copy for some newspapers, but let us note one big fact and one smaller one. The big fact is that fewer people are being killed and injured in workplace accidents than at any time in our industrialised history. Indeed, the numbers killed in accidents of all kinds are lower than ever. This trend is, to coin a phrase, no accident. It is the result of constant effort to make life safer.

The smaller fact is that Judith Hackitt, the chairman of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), is a thoroughly good thing. We interview her today, and she is a model of good sense. She balances a defence of her record in reducing workplace accidents and a debunking of myths about health and safety with a refreshing concern that many children today are “overprotected”.

She says that children “should be able to play, fall over and hurt themselves”, which is not the sort of thing you might expect someone in her position to say. It is all the more important that she say it, therefore.

Under her leadership the HSE has pushed back against the myths that surround its work, setting up a unit devoted to rebutting misconceptions about health and safety cases at the rate of two a week for the past two years. One academic study found that half of all the myths related to shops, cafés and leisure centres – which the HSE believes is the result of managers covering up poor business practice.

Ms Hackitt also has some sharp things to say about the tendency, often lumped in with complaints about health and safety excesses, to a compensation culture. “What people sometimes hide behind when they misuse the health and safety term is the fear of being sued, and no one wants to take responsibility for their actions,” she says. She is to be congratulated on her effort to take on the misconceptions that could undermine people’s confidence in the need for “genuine” safety precautions.

We ought to be proud as a nation, rather than making silly jokes about elf ‘n’ safety, that – as she reminds us – we are the first country to build an Olympic park and stadium without a single fatality.

In the last year for which statistics are available, 2013-14, there were 133 workplace fatalities in Great Britain. Every one is one too many, of course, but the number is much lower than the five-year average (164), at a time when the economy – including the manufacturing sector – is growing.

Indeed, the figure is so low that it invites us to reassess our priorities as a nation. Risk and probability are subjects on which it is notoriously hard to make public policy, but this figure of 133 deaths a year is striking when compared with the 2,000 a year killed in road accidents and the 5,000 a year killed in accidents in the home.Despite the worrying recent upturn, the death toll on our roads is another unsung success story, down from 8,000 a year in the mid-1960s.

It is accidents in the home where the focus of attention should be directed in future. Ms Hackitt should be given the job of making people more aware of dangers in the home. If anyone can, she can overcome people’s resistance to a safety campaign that would inevitably – and wrongly – be seen as a further intrusion of the elf ‘n’ safety nanny state.

Original Source: http://ind.pn/16k3UeU

Younger drivers still need to take heed of drink-drive dangers

Younger drivers remain proportionately more likely than their over-25 counterparts to fail a breath-test for driving under the influence, the UK’s national lead for roads policing has said.

Chief Constable Suzette Davenport was speaking as she released the national figures for the December 2014 anti-drink-and-drug-driving campaign, run by forces under the auspices of the Association of Chief Police Officers.

This year, a more intelligence-led approach by officers resulted in a reduction in the number of tests this year, down to 133,996, but a higher failure rate by percentage, with 5885, or 4.39%, failing breath tests.

Among these, 28,228 under-25s were tested, with a 6.33% failure rate, compared to over-25s, where 4042, or 3.94% failed.

Chief Constable Davenport said: “The use of an intelligence-led approach by officers may give the impression of members of the public not taking seriously the consequences of driving under the influence, but I am confident that our messages on the topic are getting through.

“Instead, targeted testing is helping officers to pick up on offending in a more efficient way.

“Younger drivers, who are balancing the development of their skills and responsibilities as drivers with the natural enjoyments and explorations of their formative years as adults, are, unsurprisingly, more likely to take risks, but our message is very simple and very clear – you are breaking the law, you are risking your life and the lives of those around you and the consequences of doing so will plague you for the rest of your life. Do not drive under the influence – it is not worth the risk and you will be caught.

“That message is not just for younger drivers, though – it is for all those who get behind the wheel. You do not have to stop enjoying yourself to take your responsibilities seriously, but please – if you drink, do not drive.

“I will be looking very carefully at these figures and discussing them with colleagues around the police service, as well as with government and partner agencies so that, between us, we can ensure that we have the best possible regime of advice and enforcement needed to keep our roads safe from those who recklessly drive while intoxicated.”

Original Source: http://bit.ly/18GRq1S

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf ‘n’ safety

It’s become an insulting term for everything that’s wrong with the nanny state: elf and safety.

Be it graduating students ordered not to throw their mortar boards into the air or schools outlawing conker fights, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the killjoy that defies common sense and ruins things for everyone.

It’s clearly a source of irritation for Judith Hackitt, the no-nonsense chairman of the HSE. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, also shares her frustration about gone-wrong health and safety rules, once describing it as a “national neurosis”. The problem grew to such an extent that the HSE, set up 40 years ago, established a Myth Busting Panel two years ago to address it head on. Since then, it has dealt with more than 400 misquoted health and safety cases – an average of two a week.

Exeter University researchers found that half of all the myths related to shops, cafés and leisure centres – which the HSE believes is the result of managers covering up for poor business practice. Other cases range from the ridiculous to the bizarre – such as the Scottish council that banned a dog training club, which had run for 60 years, because of allergy fears; or the Gloucester school that stopped a schoolgirl from wearing home-made frilly socks to school because, it said, they were “a trip hazard”.

One in five misconceptions directly affects children, the research found. Those that result in children being banned from activities on baseless “elf and safety” grounds particularly concern Hackitt. She believes that a challenge of the next decade will be a generation of “cotton-wool kids” who have not been exposed to risk in childhood and will grow up to be risk-naive adults – and therefore vulnerable. “I worry how they will behave once they are in the workplace,” she says. “It will increasingly become an issue in the next few years.

“They need to be able to live ordinary lives. They should be able to play, fall over and hurt themselves.”

A surprising sentiment from the HSE chairman, perhaps? “It is not good for them, as members of society, to be overprotected,” she argues. “When they join the workplace, it will be a very hard job for employers to deal with them.”

Another source of irritation for Hackitt is the compensation-claim companies that have created a blame culture. “What people sometimes hide behind when they misuse the health and safety term is the fear of being sued, and no one wants to take responsibility for their actions.”

She worries that the overall effect of these myths and the blame culture is to “absolutely denigrate” the HSE’s work because it makes people cynical about the “genuine need for workplace health and safety”.

Judith Hackitt believes that children “need to be able to live ordinary lives. They should be able to play, fall over and hurt themselves.” (Rex) Judith Hackitt believes that children “need to be able to live ordinary lives. They should be able to play, fall over and hurt themselves.” (Rex)
She herself became aware of health and safety as a teenager in a very personal way: her great aunt was scalped by a machine in a horrific factory accident. “She survived,” she says. “But I never saw her again without a hat on. She wore it to cover up her injuries.”

Hackitt was born in Nuneaton, north Warwickshire, in December 1954 and attended a grammar school in nearby Atherstone. Her father and grandfather worked in mining, which inspired her to study chemical engineering.

She graduated from Imperial College in 1975 and began 15 years at Exxon Chemicals. She was the company’s first woman chemical engineer and had to write her own maternity-leave policy. She held a variety of management roles, including business group risk manager with worldwide responsibility for health and safety.

She was the director-general of the Chemical Industry Association from 2002 to 2005. Not surprisingly, Hackitt is cited as a role model by the Women’s Engineering Society. Outside of her obvious passion for work, she loves rock music and is married with two grown-up daughters. She met her husband at university.

After a career in the chemical industry, she was appointed chairman of the Health and Safety Commission and became chairman of the Health and Safety Executive in April 2009, when the two organisations merged. She was made a CBE in 2006 for her work in this field.

She finds it frustrating when safety is regarded as “something of a joke”, as it is a serious issue and “absolutely fundamental that someone does not go to work to get killed or injured”.

She receives a report on every workplace fatality – there are two or three every week. “Every time I see them, it just reminds me that things happen out there that can so easily be avoided,” she says. Forty years on from the HSE’s creation, people “still fall off fragile roofs and die and the consequences are catastrophic”.

Recent cases include the horrific death of a man in Runcorn, Cheshire, who was trapped in a kayak moulding oven he was fixing, which locked and was accidentally switched on by another worker. “This sort of thing should not be happening,” she says. “There are measures in place to ensure it doesn’t.”

Statistics appear to show that she and her organisation are making a difference. There were 133 workplace fatalities in 2013-14 – down from 150 the previous year and a fifth lower than the five-year average of 164. Critics argue that the decline is more a result of the decline in the economy and that fatalities would be reduced still further if the HSE were more aggressive with its inspections.

The HSE has not escaped cuts in public funding, forcing it to concentrate inspections on higher-risk industries. “We are much more focused with inspections,” she says, arguing that the efficiencies have been found on the HSE’s administrative side. Construction is one high-risk industry which the HSE has targeted. “We were the only country to construct an Olympic park and stadium without a single fatality,” she notes.

There is no question of the organisation resting on its laurels. She warns that the changing world of work will bring fresh challenges – such as people obliged to work later in life. “You may be nimble enough to dodge a bull or cow when you are in your forties, but its a different matter when you are 70 or 80,” she says.

Original Source: http://ind.pn/1KixDBi

Large scaffold tower collapses in Leicester city centre

Two people have been taken to hospital after a large scaffold tower collapsed in Charles Street.

The scaffolding was outside Chicken and Noodles Chinese takeaway, Unity Hair Salon, Love 2 Lunch and The Nook Newsagency, in Charles Street and fell at about 11.30am today (Wednesday 28th January 15).

Police, fire service and ambulance crews were called to the scene and Charles Street, between Humberstone Gate and Rutland Street, was closed.

One woman, thought to be in her 60s, was trapped underneath the scaffolding. After paramedics arrived she was helped out of the wreckage on foot. Another person was brought out of a nearby shop on a stretcher and put in the back of an ambulance.

They were both taken to Leicester Royal Infirmary.

A van was also trapped underneath the structure of wood and metal, and a passing bus was hit.

Faisal Bashir, 29, manager of Love2Lunch said: “All of a sudden one of our regular customers fell inside the shop after a big piece of wood hit her on the head.

“I made sure she was all right, at least she was safe inside the shop and ran out to help another lady who was under the scaffolding outside.

“The scaffolding moved really slowly. Luckily there seemed to be a big piece of wood which was stopping any more from falling on her.”

He added: “The lady in the shop had just dropped her grandson off at nursery school. She said she couldn’t move her face or neck.

“She said she didn’t know what she was going to do as she was supposed to be going on holiday on Sunday. I made sure she was okay, I helped her sit on a stool, she said she had a headache, her face was quite swollen.

“Then paramedics arrived and put her on a board and put a support on her head and neck.

“The van that was damaged belongs to a bloke called Dave next door. Luckily, he wasn’t in it at the time. The driver of the bus that got hit just stopped his bus. it was scary stuff.”

Dan Brown, director of Red Rock Partnership, whose office is across the road from the scaffolding, was working when he heard a loud noise.

He said: “I was in the office and heard a massive gust of wind. I stood up, looked out of the window and the scaffolding was coming down.

“I ran across the road and a lady was underneath. She was on the floor on her knees.

“We pulled seven planks of wood out, enabling someone to get in to make sure she was okay.”

He added that another lady said she was walking underneath it and it fell near to her head.

Dan said: “It is a terrible accident. If that would have been lunchtime, it could have been a lot worse – about 30 people go into that cob shop.“

A spokesman for First bus said there were no passengers on the number 17 Highfields Circular bus that was hit by the scaffolding. The bus driver was not injured, but was sent home due to shock.

Buses were diverted and the area around the fallen scaffolding was cordoned off.

The First bus spokesman added that representatives from the company were in Humberstone Gate, Charles Street and Rutland Street advising passengers where to catch their bus from.

Natita Robbins, 40, who works in Emerald Thai Restaurant in Charles Street, had only just walked past the scaffolding before it fell.

She said: “I saw it from the beginning. I walked past and I was just about to come in the restaurant when I heard a creaking, then a bit moved out from the whole building and after five seconds it slowly fell down.

“I looked back before it came down and I saw that lady.

“I heard someone screaming to tell her to get away because it was going to collapse.

“I was unsure if she saw what was happening. Then it collapsed.”

She added that the noise was very loud.

Natita said she thought the bus driver saw it falling, and then stopped driving forward.

Picture: John Iliffe

John Iliffe, 30, who works opposite the scene, said: “There was an almighty crash.

“The wind had been shaking the building all day I wasn’t surprised something was blown over.

“One van was completely crushed.

“I saw one lady, about 60-years-old, she was right in the middle of it.

“All the vehicles around her were crushed, but somehow she seemed to be okay.

“It was amazing. I don’t know how she wasn’t more injured.”

Another eyewitness Jo Collis-Smith, 38, said: “I work above it and heard a massive crash and saw it had hit a bus and some cars.

“I think someone is trapped underneath it as well, but they seem to be okay. They seem to be moving.”

Sandy, 55, a regular in the Royal Standard pub near the scene, said: “We heard a bang and then five or six of the boys who were in the pub rushed out to see what they could do.

“They were pulling out planks to get to whoever was underneath. I couldn’t look, to be honest, it was just nice to see people going out to help.”

Arti Keshwala, 21, of Evington, was on Charles Street, near the newsagents on the corner of Halford Street when it happened.

She said it was frightening because she regularly walks down Charles Street.

“One woman has been injured as well as another woman. It is scary. Anyone could have been hurt.

“For the whole thing to fall makes you question whether the scaffolding is secure, or anyone checked it.”

An East Midlands Ambulance Service spokeswoman said: “We received a call reporting that scaffolding had fallen on a lady.

“First on the scene was a fast response vehicle which arrived four minutes after the call.

“Back up from a double crewed ambulance was requested and two patients were taken to Leicester Royal Infirmary.”

A spokeswoman for the police said: “We were called at 11.34am today to reports that a scaffolding had collapsed in Charles Street.

“Officers along with fire and ambulance crews went to the scene and Charles Street has been closed in both directions.”

The fire service said two engines and a technical rescue team from Eastern Station were called to the scene.

At 12.52 they came away and the incident was left with the Health and Safety Executive and the city council.

A spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive said it were aware of the incident and is carrying out an investigation.

The work was being carried out by Emperor Scaffolding, of Ravensbridge Drive, off Blackbird Road, Leicester.

Martin Morley, managing director, said: “The HSE are carrying out an investigation and I’ve been advised not to comment while their investigation is under way.”

Scaffolders from the company were waiting to go in and dismantle the collapsed structure.

A Leicester City Council spokesman said after the Health and Safety Executive had carried out their investigation at the scene, the city council would then remove the scaffolding.

Shortly after 5.20pm two of the company’s lorries loaded with the collapsed scaffolding drove off allowing police to re-open one side of Charles Street shortly afterwards.

Twisted metal safety railings and a lamppost twisted at a 90-degree angle bore testament to the wight of the collapsed metal poles and planks that made up the scaffold structure.

Bus services inbound to the city were resumed, although the outbound carriageway remained closed awaiting work on the damaged lamppost and railings.

Leicestershire Police reported at 6.50pm that Charles Street had re-opened in both directions.

Picture: Jo Collis-Smith

Original Source: http://bit.ly/1zd5eLE