HSE International

Star Wars to be prosecuted for alleged health and safety breaches

Photograph: Allstar/Disney/Lucasfilm. Harrison Ford, 73, was seriously injured after being hit by a metal hydraulic door in June 2014 while filming scenes on board the Millennium Falcon

A Star Wars production company is to be prosecuted over an injury to Harrison Ford during the filming of box office smash The Force Awakens, the Health and Safety Executive has announced.

Ford, who was reportedly paid more than $34m to reprise his role as Han Solo in the revived space opera saga, was hurt by a hydraulic metal door of the Millennium Falcon during an on-set accident in June 2014 at Pinewood Studios near London. The incident saw the 73-year-old sidelined for almost two months, with director JJ Abrams forced to halt production in order for the actor to recover.

The HSE is prosecuting Foodles Production (UK) Ltd over the incident. The BBC reports the firm, which is based at Disney’s UK headquarters in Hammersmith, London, was the primary production company behind The Force Awakens.

The national watchdog said it believed there was sufficient evidence to bring four charges relating to alleged health and safety breaches against the firm. A spokesperson said: “By law, employers must take reasonable steps to protect workers – this is as true on a film set as a factory floor.”

Ford, who was airlifted to hospital following the incident, was reportedly left with serious injuries. There has been no suggestion that the actor himself is considering action against Disney.

Original Source: http://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/feb/11/star-wars-to-be-prosecuted-health-and-safety-harrison-ford-injury

 

More than half of forklift-related injuries suffered by pedestrians

More than half (57%) of those who suffer injuries in accidents involving forklift trucks are workers on foot and not the drivers themselves, according to Mentor Training.

The statistic was revealed at the launch of Mentor Training’s Safely Working with Lift Trucks training programme in Tower Bridge on 10 February. The new two-hour course focuses on the dangers faced by everyone working with or around forklifts; not just the operators themselves.

There are more than 1,000 serious injuries reported – including amputations, broken bones and crush injuries – every year in accidents involving forklifts.

And recently the rules around employee liability have changed so that workers now face an unlimited fine and even a prison sentence if found guilty of negligence following an incident. Previously the highest fine that could be imposed was £20,000.

The new course attempts to make forklift operators and all others who work in their environments, including factory pickers, aware of the ways accidents can happen and the best ways to avoid them. The acronym STOP – representing safe working practices, think, observe and pedestrians – underpins the teachings of the trainers.

Mentor Training MD, Stuart Taylor said: “So often when there are forklift accidents pedestrians are the ones who suffer. But by staying observant and avoiding complacency they can make a difference to safety.”

Original Source: http://www.worksmanagement.co.uk/Health-and-Safety/news/forklift-truck-training/115161/#sthash.klBvWaXZ.dpuf

The Cost Of Breaking Health And Safety Laws Just Went Up

It might seem like a fairly obvious objective for organisations, but ensuring the health and safety of employees pays off.

As of the 1st of February, Crown and Magistrates Courts in England and Wales are bound by tough new guidelines when sentencing offenders who have been convicted of breaking health and safety law.

For the first time, courts in England and Wales will be required to follow comprehensive sentencing guidelines. They will be required to take into consideration a new set of factors to determine the level of fines for offenders: the degree of harm caused, the culpability of the offender, and the turnover of the offending organisation.

The new legislation has been described as the biggest change in Health and Safety legislation since the introduction of the ‘Health and Safety at Work Act’ in 1974.

Increasing Fines

The changes will also result in increased fines for offenders, although not across all organisations and all prosecuted cases. Instead, fines will be proportionate to the size of the organisation and their financial means.

For large organisations with a turnover of £50 million or more, penalties for health and safety breaches could total in excess of £10 million, with companies found guilty of corporate manslaughter facing fines of upwards of £20 million.

Neal Stone, Policy and Standards Director at the British Safety Council, said: “We broadly welcome the new guidelines and in particular that in future that three factors will be key in determining fines for health and safety offences: the degree of harm caused, the culpability of the offender, and the turnover of the offending organisation.

“Having consulted our members we were able to say in response to the Sentencing Council’s proposals that there was overwhelming support for this change which would help ensure greater consistency in the sentencing practice of our courts and a level of fines that fit the crime.”

Long Overdue

Stone continued by stating that there was a consensus that the changes to the regulations were “long overdue”, particularly when in the past the fines that have been handed down have not matched the seriousness of the offence.

In the UK, the largest fine handed out for breaking existing health and safety legislation is £15 million, given to Transco in 2005, following an explosion in Larkhall, South Lanarkshire, which caused the deaths of four people. With these changes now in place, this fine may be exceeded in the near future.

Business have been urged to make changes to the way they deal with health and safety procedures, especially to those firms which have cut training budgets as a way of cutting costs. As a result of potentially larger fines, businesses can no longer rely on paying a small fine occasionally versus proper investment in H&S training.

Stone concluded, “The new guidelines, which will in some cases, result in far greater fines than courts are currently imposing, reflects a shift in not only public opinion but concerns among certain members of the judiciary, including Lord Thomas, the Lord Chief Justice. As he has made clear in recent appeal court decisions the purpose of fines is to reduce criminal offences, reform and rehabilitate the offender and protect the public. 

“If the changes in sentencing practice do not help achieve these objectives – particularly ensuring compliance and discouraging law breaking – then they count for nothing. What we will need to see is clear evidence that the new guidelines have played their part in improving health and safety. Extra money through increased fines going into Treasury coffers should not be the name of the game. The objective must be to reduce the deficit of fatal and major injuries and occupational ill health.”

Original Source: https://www.procurious.com/blog/in-the-press/the-cost-of-breaking-health-and-safety-laws-just-went-up

Modern training needs to combat risks, says new report

Incidents within confined spaces all too frequently result in fatalities, prompting the launch of a new report from specialist training provider Develop Training Limited.

The report highlights a chronic lack of awareness of the dangers of working in confined spaces, or even what constitutes a confined space.
This means managers can expose workers to hazards without realising it or putting adequate safeguards in place, heightening the chances an accident will happen. Employers, managers and responsible persons may face prosecution if they put lives at risk through failure to comply with current regulations.
A confined space is one which is either fully or partially enclosed, and has a foreseeable risk of fire, explosion or loss of consciousness or suffocation to the entrant. Accidents like this can occur in a range of industries including construction, manufacturing, utilities and marine work, and it is estimated that between 15 and 30 deaths occur in confined spaces accidents every year.
The white paper Confined Spaces: Training and Compliance for Safe Working looks in detail at the topic, considering everything from the definition and the risks associated with them, to employers’ duties and training requirements as set out in UK legislation.
It concludes that greater awareness of the problem and appropriate investment in training and procedures are overdue across UK industry.
Chris Wood, CEO at DTL, explains: “Companies have a responsibility to protect those working in confined spaces, and training is essential to this. Our state-of-the-art confined spaces units train delegates on how to navigate the obstacles that arise from working in dark, cramped spaces, while providing procedural guidance to help reduce the risks of the work.”
The introduction of new confined spaces legislation has made this type of training more important than ever – companies including TATA global beverages, Rolls-Royce Aerospace, BMW Mini and Northumbrian Water have already taken up training.
To download a free copy of the whitepaper here.
Original Source: https://www.trainingjournal.com/articles/news/modern-training-needs-combat-risks-says-new-report?

Apache appeals HSE notice after supply vessel crash

A tribunal hearing has begun after US oil and gas company Apache appealed an improvement notice issued by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive).

The company disputes the notice from the safety body, which was given after a supply vessel crashed into the Forties Echo on March 16th last year.

Today evidence was heard from HSE specialist inspector Alan Keith Pemberton, who said an improvement notice was issued after the incident’s risk factor was categorised as “significantly large”.

Speaking at the tribunal, Mr Pemberton said the 291ft Sea Falcon, owned by Norwegian offshore supply company Deep Supply, was going at a speed of 4knots.

Guidelines state the vessel should have maintained a speed of 0.5knots.

The supply vessel had been understood to have been offloading cargo when the collision occurred.

The case, which is being heard at Atholl House, will continue to hear further evidence this afternoon.

Original Source: https://www.energyvoice.com/oilandgas/north-sea/101195/apache-appeals-hse-notice-after-supply-vessel-crash/?

Council worker committed suicide because of excessive micromanagement

Staffordshire County Council is considering the coroner’s comments

A coroner has hit out at a council after he heard about the treatment of a worker who killed herself.

Rosemary Corden, 53, was found hanged in November last year after she took two days off sick from Staffordshire County Council, where she had worked for 19 years.

But she was reported missing by her husband, Martin, before her body was eventually found.

Today coroner Andrew Haigh said: ‘I am struck by the excessive micromanagement of Rose and the county council’s insensitivity to Rose’s needs.’

He was told Mrs Corden was expected to deliver daily colour-coded charts showing what she and her team were doing every day.

She was also expected to respond to queries on the chart, keep a track of her team as well as complete her own daily work.

A note on her body also made reference to a ‘brutal’ staff meeting in which personal comments were made about her.

One included criticism that she had bought flowers for someone who was upset at work, suggesting she should ‘stop trying to buy friends.’

The inquest heard Mrs Corden had attended her GP in September complaining that she was experiencing low moods, was under pressure and feeling stressed at work.

She was also concerned about her memory, although an assessment revealed that nothing was wrong.

Giving evidence, former colleague Claire Goodey said: ‘Rose had loved her job. But they kept increasing her responsibilities and not reflecting that in her pay.’

After the hearing, Mrs Corden’s husband Martin said: ‘I am pleased at the comments of the coroner, as pleased as I am able to be.

‘Rose was a wonderful person and it was just the stress of work that led to this tragedy.’

A council spokesman said: ‘We have co-operated with all requests of HM Coroner. We will now take time to carefully consider the coroner’s verdict and observations.

‘It would therefore be inappropriate to make any further comment at this time.’

Original Source: http://metro.co.uk/2016/02/08/council-worker-killed-herself-because-she-was-being-excessively-micromanaged-5669163/?ito=twitter

Tougher penalties for farm health and safety breaches

Farmers or farming businesses who are found guilty of breaching health and safety rules face tougher penalties from this month.

The Sentencing Council has introduced new guidelines for health and safety offences, corporate manslaughter, food safety and hygiene breaches.

They will apply to anyone over 18 who is sentenced from 1 February.

Phil Cookson, partner at agricultural law firm Roythornes Solicitors, said the new sentencing guidelines put the bar much higher when it came to fines for health and safety offences.

Fines of up to £450,000 can now be applied to companies with a turnover of up to £2m who are found to have breached the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Big businesses with a turnover in excess of £50m could face fines of up to £10m.

Individuals found guilty of breaching the law, face unlimited fines or the possibility of a two-year prison sentence.

Until now, there has been limited guidance for judges and magistrates in dealing with what can be complex and serious offences that do not come before the courts as frequently as some other criminal offences.

Custodial sentences were only available in certain circumstances and fines in the lower courts were limited to £20,000.

“We can expect to see some small farm businesses hit really hard if they end up on the wrong end of an health and safety prosecution,” said Mr Cookson.

“Everyone in the industry wants to see farmers’ health and safety record take a turn for the better, for obvious reasons.

“These new fine ranges should act as a wake-up call; the days of businesses cost-cutting on health and safety thinking fines will be manageable are a thing of the past.”

According to the Health and Safety Executive, in the past 10 years, almost one person a week has been killed as a direct result of agricultural work.

While not all deaths or serious injuries on farm are as a result of breaches in health and safety regulations several are.

The sentencing guidelines are the first time there will be comprehensive sentencing guidelines covering the most commonly sentenced health and safety and food safety offences in England and Wales.

For example, smaller businesses found to have breached food hygiene regulations will now face fines of up to £120,000.

As a general rule courts must following the guidelines when sentencing.

The level of fines for breaches depend on the level of culpability (low, medium, high, very high), the risk of harm and the level of potential harm, and the turnover of the offending business.

Example

A farm partnership with a turnover of £400,000.

A farmworker is seriously injured when caught under a reversing trailer in the yard.

The business is found guilty of an offence under section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act, which requires an employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of all its employees, for failing to carry out a risk assessment or devise a safe procedure for reversing vehicles where vision is restricted.

The risk of harm is found to be high, and the level of harm was found to be the highest (death or serious impairment resulting in lifelong dependence on third-party care).

The level of culpability is established as being high because the business had failed to make changes following an earlier safety incident and had ignored concerns raised by the foreman.

The business could be fined between £150,000-£350,000, with £250,000 as the starting point before other factors (mitigating for example, the business generally had a good health and safety record, or aggravating, such as the existence of recent convictions).

Original Source: http://www.fwi.co.uk/business/tougher-penalities-for-farm-health-and-safety-breaches.htm

Tube maintenance workers set to strike over safety

Maintenance workers on London Underground (LU) are to stage a series of 12-hour and 24-hour strikes in a dispute over safety.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said its 1,500 of its members would first walkout on 12 February for 24 hours.

Seven separate strikes are planned up to June over what the RMT calls “lethal changes to track access.”

LU said safety was its top priority and more talks were planned next week.

More on this story and other news from London

In a separate row over jobs, pay and rosters, staff working at stations are due to walk out from 21:00 GMT on 6 February for 48 hours.

But the RMT said last-minute talks over that issue had been “detailed and constructive”.

Transport for London has warned some Tube stations will not open on Sunday and Monday if the strike by station staff goes ahead on Saturday.

Talking about the strike by maintenance staff, RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “From a situation where everyone knew how to access the track, we now have anarchy and uncertainty.

“Into this mix we have engineering train movements that we believe will lead to someone being killed and this union will not sit back and wait for a disaster to happen.

“These ill-conceived and lethal changes to track access must be reversed.”

LU’s Steve Griffiths said: “Safety is always our top priority and we have robust and comprehensive procedures in place to ensure that any staff working on the track are kept safe and are aware of any train movements.

“We have talked to our trade unions extensively about the changes we have made to track access for engineering work and will continue these discussions next week.”


The maintenance workers strike dates:

  • 06:30 Friday 12 February to 06:29 on Saturday 13 February
  • 06:30 to 18:29 on Sunday 6 March
  • 06:30 Friday 25 March to 06:29 Saturday 26 March
  • 06:30 Sunday 27 March to 06:29 Monday 28 March
  • 06:30 to 18:29 on Sunday 24 April
  • 06:30 to 18:29 on Sunday 15 May
  • 06:30 to 18:29 on Sunday 12 June 12

Original Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-35500314

Electricity industry launches a new phase of the Powering Improvement safety initiative

An event in the House of Commons has marked the launch of a second phase of the electricity industry’s successful health and safety initiative ‘Powering Improvement’.
The five year Powering Improvement strategy was first launched in 2010 and brought together electricity companies, trade unions and the Health and Safety Executive in an effort to make the UK electricity industry a world leader in occupational health and safety.

The success of this collaborative approach has lead to the development of a new five year Powering Improvement strategy, which will seek to build on the progress made so far.

Shadow Minister for Employment Stephen Timms MP spoke at the Parliamentary launch. He said, “The Labour Party warmly welcomes the Powering Improvement initiative. Labour is committed to the promotion of health and safety at work, as integral to good management practice as well as a vital protection for employees. A partnership approach is the right way forward; a safe and well trained workforce benefits employee and employer alike.”

Steve Johnson, Chief Executive of regional power network Electricity North West said, “Our industry has worked hard to deliver a significant improvement in health and safety performance since privatisation. Powering Improvement has made an important contribution to that effort, and I am pleased that it is being renewed to drive further progress over the next five years.”

Mike Clancy, General Secretary of the trade union Prospect said, “Health and safety in the energy sector is seen by Prospect as a beacon of excellence: unions and employers genuinely seeking to collaborate in raising awareness and improving standards. Powering Improvement, a campaign now entering its second 5-year phase, is pivotal to delivering that commitment. Such is its value, HSE continues to resource very welcome support and input. This is self-regulation at its best.”

Samantha Peace, HSE Director, said, “When, in 2009, we published the strategy ‘The Health and Safety of Great Britain \ Be Part of the Solution’, the electricity sector’s Powering Improvement response was exactly the type of industry initiative we had in mind. I am very encouraged the industry so clearly recognises the business and social benefits of good health and safety, and I am pleased to be here today to play a part in keeping the momentum going as the second phase of Powering Improvement is launched.”

Original Source: http://www.energynetworks.org/news/press-releases/2015/march/electricity-industry-launches-a-new-phase-of-the-powering-improvement-safety-initiative.html?

A toast for our miners

Neal Stone

Director of policy and standards

British Safety Council

December 2015 marked the closure of Britain’s last deep coal mine – Kellingley Colliery near Castleford in North Yorkshire. I read the news with a mixture of nostalgia remembering the importance of our once great coal mining industry to Britain, puzzlement as to how our future energy needs are going to be met without domestic coal production while not forgetting the immeasurable harm suffered by workers and their families over the past 200 years, including fatal and major injury and life ending diseases as result of the work.

At its peak Kellingley, “Big K”, employed over 2,000 miners, being the biggest deep mine in Europe. At the time of closure employee numbers were down to 450. The closure was not because of depleted coal stocks but rather due to continuing decline and eventual closure of Britain’s remaining coal-fired power stations. Eggborough and Ferrybridge power stations – large consumers of Kellingley coal – are both due to close in 2016. Nearby Drax power station is now able to source the coal it needs more competitively from the open market.

In an extensive piece titled “Kellingley Colliery: the end of the mine”, published on 12 December, The Daily Telegraph featured interviews with many workers including the colliery manager, miners and electrical engineers. The abiding memory reading their reflections on the closure is of the camaraderie among the workforce and the tough working conditions.

Miner Graham Whiteford, age 56, said: “It has been a hard life working underground for 39 years. Some of the conditions you work in – loads of dust, nearly 100 per cent humidity, the heat (over 30°C) – are really bad at times. But the lads you work with get you through it. There’s a lot of humour underground – which there’s got to be.”

Just over 30 years ago, a year after the ending of the miners’ strike, I moved to work in a junior role as an industrial relations officer at the headquarters of Acas, the public advisory and conciliation service. My regard for mineworkers, some 250,000 working in the industry at that time, was put firmly into perspective by my boss and mentor.

Why, he asked, would we not want to avoid sending workers deep underground to work in unsafe and unhealthy conditions? To him, coal mining was not the hallmark of an advanced industrial society but rather an industry crying out for increased mechanisation to eliminate the risk of death, injury and occupational disease.

I will not let nostalgia rule my head. Coal accounted for 29% of UK energy production in 2010. By 2025 there will be no coal-fired power stations operating in the UK. The much talked about need for new technology to capture carbon emissions is sadly, mostly talk, partly because of the high cost of developing such technology and and also because of a lack of informed thinking by those who set the rules as to what we must do to move to a greener economy. Whether coal should or could form a central plank of UK energy policy going forward is a discussion for another time.

What we must not lose sight of is our history. The contribution of coal to industrial growth and economic prosperity has come at a high price with many thousands of fatal injuries and deaths resulting from occupational disease.

The industry continues to kill, injure and harm a large number of workers across the world. It is estimated that over 500 coal miners died in China in 2015 (931 in 2014). In 2010 in the United States 29 coal miners were killed in the Upper Big Branch mine disaster in West Virginia.

The point is this. Coal production will continue to help meet energy demands across the globe for the foreseeable future. Energy powers the industries that supply the food we eat and the clothes on our back. Although we no longer have a deep mining industry we have a responsibility to voice our concerns over the appalling conditions in which many coal miners are working in poorly regulated coal mines across the globe to produce the goods and services we demand.

The Mining Industry Safety Leadership Group’s Sector Strategy 2014-17 is available at: 
http://www.hse.gov.uk/mining/strategy-2014-17.pdf

 

Original Source: https://sm.britsafe.org/toast-our-miners#sthash.V8IB8rhf.dpuf

 

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