In May alone (as of 20/5/13) there have been 19 reported HSE cases where companies have been fined for breaches in Health and Safety and where employees have been seriously injured, many barely avoiding death.
On average there are at least 40 – 50 Health and Safety cases each month – so far in 2013 there have been 219 prosecutions. Many companies have the mind set that “it won’t happen to them” but the stats consistently prove them wrong.
Types of Health and Safety Breaches (a few examples from the 20 cases so far in May):
Bradford man may lose lower leg after work injury
A Bradford man may lose his foot and lower as a result of a crush injury caused by the safety failures of his employers more than a year ago. The incident, on 6 February 2012, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted the company after identifying a number of safety failings.
HSE Inspector Andrea Jones said:
“A proper examination of the risks would have shown that there was a danger of the load shifting and falling from the machine, during or after turning. A simple clamping mechanism would have secured it, and was indeed applied to the newer machine.
It is also essential that checks are made by managers to ensure operators are trained and competent to use the machines they provide, understand the risks and associated precautions to take.”
Butchery firm in court for equipment failings
A large butchery firm in Lewisham was fined for safety failings after an employee sliced his forearm because his safety gloves offered insufficient protection.
An investigation by HSE established that the employee was only wearing a wrist-length chain mail glove on his non-knife hand.
HSE Inspector David Balfour said:
“Working with sharp knives poses clear risks, but not enough was done to mitigate those risks. It is imperative that all employers properly assess the type of protective clothing or equipment their workers need, and provide it as necessary.
Derbyshire food company prosecuted after worker severs fingertip
An Ilkeston food company was fined after an employee severed the tip of his finger in a mincing machine.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that while the guard was not required to be fixed, it was only supposed to be removed by a trained operative with a specific method followed. The employee had not been trained to perform that task, so did not follow the correct procedure.
HSE inspector Emma Madeley said:
“The fact that a specific procedure had to be carried out to remove the guard shows the firm recognised the risk, yet it failed to ensure its employees were adequately trained and supervised. There was a lack of control which resulted in a man suffering a painful injury.”
Worker fell through pig shed roof after firm ignored safety warnings
A York firm that fits solar panels was prosecuted after an employee fell four metres through the fragile roof at an East Yorkshire farm.
HSE Inspector Andy Denison said:
“Solar Fit PV Ltd failed to assess the risks before this job started and therefore failed to plan it properly and ensure it was carried out safely. The company left an inexperienced worker alone to work on the roof without suitable safety measures in place, having told him to walk on the purlins – which is extremely dangerous.”
Company fined for excavation failings
A Kent construction company has been fined for unsafe excavation work after a worker was seriously injured at a building site in Cranbrook.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and established that the risks of manually breaking the excess concrete were not properly assessed.
HSE Inspector Kevin Golding said:
“This prosecution demonstrates the need to properly plan all aspects of excavation activity, and to reassess systems and methods of work if a problem arises – as happened here when the concrete for the supporting posts was over poured.”
In some of the above cases it is clear that appropriate safety precautions were ignored or overlooked. In many of the cases a lack of health and safety training for employees played a major role. Health and Safety training not only safeguards companies and their employees but can also mean the difference between life and death!