HSE International

HSE responds to UCATT release on construction deaths

On 18/02/2016, constrcuction union UCATT issued a press release to media that claimed there was an increase in prosecution delays and fall in convictions following construction deaths https://www.ucatt.org.uk/increase-prosecution-delays-and-fall-convictions-following-construction-deaths link to external websiteUCATT cited information that was included in a recent Parliamentary Question response by HSE to Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn.

HSE construction sector has responded to UCATT’s interpretation of the statistics below:

There has been no fall in conviction rates for HSE prosecutions. It actually rose from 92% in 2010/11 to 94% in 2014/15. 

The reduction referred to in the UCATT  statement (we think) relates to the numbers of fatalities in construction for which prosecutions have been approved.  The percentage of fatalities leading to a decision to prosecute in the same year will be lower in more recent years as a number of the more complex investigations will still be on-going or are progressing through the courts. The number of prosecution approvals should also be seen against an overall reduction in construction fatalities from over 100 in 2000/01 to 39(p) in 2014/15.

All workplace fatalities need to be investigated thoroughly to prevent a recurrence and so that where breaches of health and safety requirements are identified then those who have failed in their responsibilities are held to account which may include bringing cases before the courts in England and Wales, or recommending prosecution in Scotland.  HSE does not prosecute in every case and will take account of the evidential stage and the relevant public interest factors set down by the Code for Crown Prosecutors.  In Scotland the Procurator Fiscal decides whether to bring a prosecution.

A number of discrete stages will affect the pace at which a work-related death is investigated and legal proceedings pursued.  The police assume primacy for investigations initially and retain the case until negligent homicide offences have been identified or eliminated. In complex cases it can be several months before HSE is handed primacy.  Before HSE brings a prosecution it is normally necessary to await the outcome of a Coroner’s inquest.  Once a defendant has been charged it can take some time for the case to come to trial, particularly where it is defended and heard in the Crown Court.

Nevertheless, HSE and the other agencies involved in investigating workplace fatalities recognise the importance to victims of ensuring all stages of the investigation and prosecution process are concluded as quickly as possible.  The Work Related Deaths Protocol (WRDP) National Liaison Committee recently agreed that any decision to prosecute should be made within three years of the date of death, other than in exceptional circumstances.

As a result of the drive to reduce investigation time and conclude long running investigations, HSE has in recent years concluded several complex investigations. This has meant average time taken between an incident and a prosecution approval has increased in the most recent years, but other data provided in response to Parliamentary Questions shows that over the last 10-years, 23 percent of cases were approved for prosecution within a year of a fatality, 27 percent in the second year, and 30 percent  in the third.  Therefore 80 percent of HSE prosecutions were approved within the WRDP three-year period.  This percentage is still rising.

Note that there is an error in the UCATT release where it states that 30 per cent of cases did not reach the prosecution stage until between three to four years after a worker’s death.  The PQ responses showed that just 15 percent of cases took between three and four years to reach this stage.

The percentage of construction (Standard Industrial Classification, section F) fatalities resulting in at least one prosecution being approved to date in each of the last eight years is as follows:

Picture1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Investigations of some recent and more complex incidents are continuing.

The data UCATT has used to incorrectly suggest the ‘fall in convictions’ is above.  This relates to prosecutions approved following fatals in any given year.  The number in the third column relates to the number in the second column, and not to fatals in previous years.  Therefore, in 2014/15 of the 39(p) fatals, we approved prosecutions in seven of those cases within the same year.  Therefore the observed % reduction in recent years is because of on-going (ie longer than one year) investigations.  If you ran the figures again in six months the numbers in columns 3 and 4 will have increased.

Original Source: http://press.hse.gov.uk/2016/hse-responds-to-ucatt-release-on-construction-deaths/

 

 

 

 

Poundstretcher boss to stand trial amid health and safety breaches

The boss of a discount store where a number of health and safety offences were committed is to face trial by judge and jury.

Abdul Aziz Tayub, owner of the chain of Poundstretcher shops, pleaded not guilty to ten charges when he appeared at Swindon Crown Court on Friday.

It is alleged that the company, which admitted breaching a series of regulations, did so with his ‘consent, connivance, or neglect’.

But the 60-year-old, who gave the court a business address in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, denied any wrongdoing and will stand trial in the autumn.

All of the alleged offences are said to relate to the Poundstretcher store in St Margaret’s Retail Park on Oxford Road.

The breaches are all said to have taken place over a number of days during October and November 2014.

Judge Peter Blair QC adjourned the case to Monday October 31 and released Tayub on bail until then.

Poundstretcher Ltd, also based in Huddersfield, pleaded guilty to 16 charges brought by Swindon Borough Council under a number of health and safety at work regulations.

The company, which has more than 400 stores nationwide as well as others in the Gulf states, admitted failing ensure the health, safety and welfare of staff at the premises.

It also pleaded guilty to offences under Work at Heights regulations, Personal Protective Equipment at Work regulations, Control of Substances Hazardous to Health regulations, and Reporting of Injuries, Diseases or Dangerous Occurrences.

The judge said he would adjourn passing sentence on the firm until after the trial of Tayub has concluded.

Original Source: http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/14291829.Poundstretcher_boss_to_stand_trial_amid_health_and_safety_breaches/?

Mercedes owner files US suit over diesel emissions

An owner of a Mercedes BlueTEC diesel car filed a class-action lawsuit in the United States, accusing the carmaker of knowingly programming its Clean Diesel vehicles to emit illegally high levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx), according to law firm Hagens Berman.

Shares in Mercedes maker Daimler were down 3% at €62.82 at the bottom of Germany’s blue-chip index by 08.26am on Friday after news of the class-action lawsuit filed by Hagens Berman, which also has a lead role in class-action suits against Volkswagen.

Diesel car makers have been in the spotlight since Volkswagen admitted in September it had rigged US diesel emissions tests, and that up to around 11 million vehicles worldwide could have illegal software installed.

The US Justice Department is suing the company for up to $46bn for alleged violations of environmental law.

Daimler has repeatedly denied that it has rigged tests as well, and said on Friday it saw the suit, filed in the US District Court for the District of New Jersey on Thursday, as unfounded. A spokesman said the carmaker would examine the levels and defend itself against the suit.

Hagens Berman said in a statement that on-road testing had shown Mercedes’s Clean Diesel cars produced average on-road NOx emissions that were 19 times above the US standard, with some instantaneous readings as high as 65 times more than the US limit.

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

Alert over potentially dangerous airbags sold on e-Bay – man arrested

A man has been arrested a man in Dorset as part of an ongoing investigation into the online sale of counterfeit airbags to the public.

Officers have alerted 680 people believed to have made purchases of counterfeit and potentially dangerous airbags and airbag covers on eBay.

Police say every individual has been advised to make contact with their local dealership immediately so that their vehicle receives the necessary checks to ensure it is safe.

“At approximately 08:30hrs today a 34-year-old man was arrested in Blandford Forum on suspicion of counterfeiting and money laundering offences. He currently remains in police custody at a Dorset police station following the arrest, which was made by The City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit officers, supported by Dorset Police.

 

Officers are also carrying out a search at an address in Poole and so far officers have seized approximately 100 suspected counterfeit airbags, a large quantity of airbag components, with financial documents and computers.

 

Staff from the Ministry of Defence are also at the address as a precaution due to the presence of explosives in the airbags.

 

In January 2016 an investigation was launched by PIPCU following a referral from the Intellectual Property Office and Honda Motor Europe who identified that counterfeit airbags were being sold on eBay.

 

Detailed factory analysis of the airbags was immediately commenced at Honda’s UK headquarters in liaison with PIPCU. It was confirmed that the airbags were counterfeit and that they would not deploy as a genuine airbag would on collision, presenting a clear danger to the public.

 

As a result of financial investigations, 680 people were identified by PIPCU from payment records relating to eBay vendors using the names ‘EU_Trading’, ‘OMNADRENIAK1984’ and ‘barbo2007.’ It has been established that purchases have been made by a wide range of small and medium businesses and individuals.”

 

– CITY OF LONDON POLICE

It is understood that 148 of those consumers purchased suspected counterfeit Honda CRV and Accord airbags. Officers are currently establishing if the remaining 532 purchases concern other counterfeit manufacturer car parts.

The counterfeit Honda airbags had been on sale since September 2013 for approximately £170, which is half the price of a genuine airbag.

Original Source: http://www.itv.com/news/meridian/2016-02-18/alert-over-potentially-dangerous-airbags-sold-on-e-bay/

Blacklisting victims get £5.6m ahead of High Court hearing

By Belinda Liversedge

A total of £5.6 million in compensation has been paid to UCATT members blacklisted by major constuction companies.

The union said 71 of its members had received the payouts as compensation for misuse of private information, breach of the Data Protection Act 1988, defamation and loss of earnings.

UCATT has a further 89 cases connected to the blacklist – the now infamous database used by construction firms to vet potential employees – and says negotiations for their compensation are ongoing. Unless settlement is agreed these cases will go to trial at High Court this May after years of legal proceedings.

Brian Rye, acting general secretary of UCATT, said: “UCATT has been fighting the blacklisting case since the day it was revealed. This initial tranche of compensation is the first significant milestone in the battle to win justice for blacklisted workers. I hope that this compensation will provide some recompense for these members who have suffered appalling treatment at the hands of the blacklisters.”

Leading firms Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and VINCI PLC, known as the Macfarlanes group, are joint defendants in the High Court action brought by trade unions and the Blacklist Support Group. The group claims they have made a large number of other undisclosed offers out of court, saying in December that Part 36 offers have been issued to the “majority of the claimants in the legal action”:

“We have made these offers in an attempt to settle as many claims out of court as possible in order to save further unnecessary legal costs and to speed up the payments to affected workers,” read their statement.

The Macfarlanes defendants have admitted using the database and issued what they say is a full apology: “we recognise and regret the impact it had on employment opportunities for those workers affected and for any distress and anxiety it caused to them and their families,” they said at a High Court hearing on 7 October 2015.

An investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office in 2009 uncovered card files from a firm named the Consulting Association, which contained the political, work and union activities of over 3,200 construction workers. Invoices indicated 44 UK construction companies had used the files to assess potential employees.

Trade unions say workers on the list were denied employment for years.

In addition to financial compensation for a total of 571 cases covered by claims in the High Court, unions’ legal teams are seeking a formal apology in the High Court and further admissions including to unlawful conspiracy.

Dave Smith of the Blacklist Support Group said many workers wanted the blacklisting firms to face the courts. Industry giants “know they are guilty as sin and are desperate to protect their corporate brand,” he told Hazard’s Blacklist blog. “But the millions they will be ordered to pay by the High Court will be dwarfed by the potential billions they could lose out on if banned from government and local authority contracts across Europe.”

He added: “By covertly targeting union safety reps, these companies appear to have given themselves a competitive advantage, as implementing proper health and safety measures on major projects has obvious financial consequences. Blacklisting is a human rights scandal but it might also be viewed as a secret cartel. I’m looking forward to the trial in May.”

Legal teams are also trying to secure agreement that the companies concerned will provide training and future support to any of the victims who require it in order to assist them re-joining the industry.

Original Source: https://sm.britsafe.org/blacklisting-victims-get-%C2%A356m-ahead-high-court-hearing#sthash.XusZC6oZ.dpuf

Care home boss admits health and safety failures over death

The director of a Co Antrim care home has pleaded guilty to breaches in health and safety legislation connected with the death of an elderly patient nearly three years ago.

McGoldrick Enterprises Ltd had also been charged with the corporate manslaughter of patient Ms Mary Dowds in their Maine Private Nursing home, Randalstown, on April 8, 2013.

However, that charge was allowed to remain on the books and was not proceeded with.

Company director Ian McGoldrick, who along with his wife, Mary, also runs a second care home, Ladyhill Lodge, in Antrim, pleaded guilty to having “failed to conduct your undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that persons not in your employment who may be affected thereby were not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety”.

Following the guilty plea on behalf of the company, defence QC Patrick Lyttle told Antrim Crown Court that this was not “a late change of plea at the door of the court”, but had previously been on offer from the company, which has been in business for more than 25 years.

“This is not a matter of holding out to the very last minute,” added Mr Lyttle.

No details surrounding the tragic death of Ms Dowds were given to the court, and judge Desmond Marrinan adjourned the case until next month for submissions by both the prosecution and defence.

Original Source: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/care-home-boss-admits-health-and-safety-failures-over-death-34463398.html?

Scaffolder fall through fragile roof causes family devastation

Hemel Hempstead Scaffolding Limited has been fined £110k after a workman suffered life changing injuries when he fell through a fragile roof whilst carrying out scaffolding work in preparation for the installation of solar panels on a roof at Gaddesden Home Farm, Herts in July 2013.

St Albans Crown Court heard that Stewart Thomas, aged 31 at the time, was placing scaffold boards along the roof ridge when he fell through the fragile roof to the concrete floor 8m below.

He suffered multiple injuries to his head and neck including a brain stem injury, a punctured lung, broken ribs and a lacerated liver. Mr Thomas is now unable to talk, move or feed himself and requires residential care. After the hearing Stewart’s mother Karen Coffey said:

“My granddaughters are going to miss out so much on the things they would have done and learnt from Stewart. Since my son Stewart’s accident all our lives have been dramatically changed – hopefully we can try and move forward to make Stewart’s life as best we can with his family close by him.”

HSE told the court that a risk assessment and method statement had not been prepared for the work. There were no fall protection measures in place, and a lack of appropriate supervision for inexperienced and trainee scaffolders on the site.

Hemel Hempstead Scaffolding Limited of Seymour Crescent, Hemel Hempstead pleaded guilty to breaching section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act, 1974 and were fined £110,000 and ordered to pay £22,596 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Stephen Manley said:

“The company’s approach to health and safety was poor. They failed to properly and safely plan the work they were contracted to carry out and failed to supervise inexperienced young workers. The particular works would have been unfamiliar to the team and so the lack of thorough supervision was lamentable.

As a result of their failings a young father has been left being unable to communicate or look after himself and he will never be able to play with his young daughter.

When working at height, there is a high likelihood of serious injury or death if safe procedures are not put in place and adequate steps taken to ensure they are followed”.

Original Source: http://www.ppconstructionsafety.com/?p=63361

Landlord fined £12k for breaches of safety rules

A landlord has been ordered to pay £12,400 after breaching management regulations.

Beckhall Properties Ltd of Stockport have been fined a total of £11,000 for 11 separate offences. The company was also ordered to pay the city council’s costs of £1280, along with a victim of crime surcharge of £120.

Representatives of Beckhall Properties Ltd failed to appear at a Magistrates’ hearing and the case was proved, in their absence.

The company is required to meet management regulations for their building, which is converted in to self-contained flats, under Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) legislation. These regulations ensure that minimum safety standards are maintained including fire safety and gas safety.

In May of 2015 a tenant of a Whalley Range building owned by Beckhall Properties Ltd, complained to Manchester City Council about the poor condition of the premises.

When council officers arrived at the property to undertake an investigation they unearthed a number of management regulation breaches, including a defective fire alarm, faulty fire extinguishers and a fire door that did not meet regulations. The stairs of the property were also in a dangerous condition whilst there was no safety certificate for the building’s electrics.

The city council invited Beckhall Properties Ltd to an interview under caution in order to discuss the areas of concern, but they received no response.

Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council Councillor Bernard Priest has stated, “We take the issue of tenant safety extremely seriously and the size of the punishment shows the court shares our concern. Let this action send a message to any unscrupulous landlords – who may be considering neglecting their legal obligations – that we will not hesitate to prosecute”.

Original Source: http://www.blacknet.co.uk/landlord-charged-12k-for-breaking-regulations-in-whalley-range/

HSE to prosecute film company after Star Wars incident

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has today informed Foodles Production (UK) Ltd that it will be prosecuted over an incident in which actor Harrison Ford was seriously injured during the filming of Star Wars: The Forces Awakens.

Foodles Production (UK) Ltd is based in Queen Caroline Street, London, and will appear at High Wycombe Magistrates Court on 12 May 2016 to face four charges.

Mr Ford suffered a broken leg and other injuries when he was struck by a heavy hydraulic metal door on the set of the Millennium Falcon. The incident happened on 12 June 2014 at Pinewood Studios.

A spokesman for HSE said:

“HSE has today informed Foodles Production (UK) Ltd that it will be prosecuted over four alleged breaches of health and safety law. The charges relate to an incident during filming of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, which left Harrison Ford with serious injuries after he was hit by a heavy hydraulic door.

“By law, employers must take reasonable steps to protect workers – this is as true on a film set as a factory floor. We have investigated thoroughly and believe that we have sufficient evidence to bring the case to court.”

Foodles Production (UK) Ltd is the company responsible for producing Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens and under health and safety law for managing the risks created during production.

Original Source: http://press.hse.gov.uk/2016/hse-to-prosecute-film-company-after-star-wars-incident/

Company fined for safety failings when dealing with asbestos at a school

An Oxford based company has been fined after disturbing asbestos insulation board (AIB) at a school.

Northampton Magistrates’ Court heard how Amey Communities Limited (ACL) were contracted to carry out roof refurbishment at Lings Primary School, Hayeswood Road, Northampton. During the course of this refurbishment workers from ACL disturbed AIB in a small plant room.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive into the incident which occurred on 6 November 2014 found failings in ACL’s project management arrangements. They failed to monitor and identify asbestos materials during this specific roof refurbishment work at the school and ensure key personnel had suitable asbestos awareness training.

Amey Community Limited, of Edmund Halley Road, Oxford, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, and was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,737.

HSE inspector Sam Russell said after the hearing: “The serious health risks of asbestos which is a class one carcinogen are well-known and publicised. Any maintenance or construction work undertaken in buildings built before 2000 must consider and manage the risk of possible asbestos containing materials. It is important this material is considered at every stage of a construction project and failure to do so places workers, buildings occupants and the public at risk to possible exposure to asbestos fibres.”

Original Source: http://press.hse.gov.uk/2016/company-fined-for-safety-failings-when-dealing-with-asbestos-at-a-school/?