Month: June 2014

Firm fined after employee is crushed by falling MDF

A joinery firm in Essex has been in court for safety failings after one of its employees was crushed by half a tonne of MDF at its premises in Basildon.

What happened?

The 50 year employee had been working in the joinery shop of the factory, selecting MDF boards to be cut down to size. The boards were stacked vertically against the racking.

He had already removed three boards, weighing 30kgs each, but as he removed the fourth a further fifteen toppled over, landing on top of him and knocking him to the ground.

As he fell he hit his head on a stack of timber, and was left pinned to the floor by the boards for several minutes before being freed.

He sustained serious injuries, including two collapsed lungs, five broken ribs, a broken collar bone, and a gash to his head. He spent two weeks in hospital, but has since returned to work on light duties.

An investigation into the incident found that found that the boards were unsecured and not racked, and the total weight of the boards that crushed the employee would have been around half a tonne.

What was the outcome?

Specialist Joinery Projects Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005, and was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £598 in costs.

HSE Inspector, Kim Tichias, said:

“The risks from falling timber and board material in the wood-working
industry are well-known. There have been a number of incidents
in recent years, including fatalities, where poorly-stored
and unsecured boards have fallen on workers.

“Specialist Joinery Projects should have ensured boarding was secure and
that there was a safe process for using and handling boarding for
employees to follow. Simple and relatively inexpensive
control measures, such as racking, would have
prevented his incident and the serious
injuries incurred by this worker.”

If you have been affected by an accident at work, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email claims@hampsonhughes.com

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Aberdeen company in court after hotel gas explosion

A catering supply company from Aberdeen has been in court after three people were seriously injured in a gas explosion in a hotel kitchen.

What happened?

The three individuals; a customer, a bar maid and a member of staff, were caught in a blast which happened as work was underway on the premises’ gas system.

Instant Catering Maintenance Ltd (ICM) had been employed to design and install a new ground floor kitchen, containing a hotplate range, a four ring hob and a freestanding chargrill – each fuelled by propane.

Danielle Ormond, a member of the bar staff, was investigating a complaint about the beer in the cellar. As she passed through the kitchen, where ICM employee Neil Coffield was purging the gas system, she noticed a very strong smell of gas.

The explosion occurred just a few moments later, causing injuries to Ms Ormond and Mr Coffield, as well as a customer, James Guthrie, who was outside the kitchen door.

A substantial part of the building collapsed immediately as a result of the explosion, leaving it unsafe for an investigation to take place and leading to an emergency demolition order by Aberdeenshire Council.

The court heard that a steel manifold had been installed to supply propane gas to appliances, but it had not been fitted with an adequate facility to allow for safe purging of the system – which would have prevented gas build-up to dangerous levels.

An examination of the recovered appliances found that a regulator, used to ensure correct pressure, had not been fitted onto the chargrill. Additionally, the regulators on the hotplate and hob were found to have been attached the wrong way round and set for natural gas rather than propane.

What was the outcome?

Instant Catering Maintenance Limited pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and was fined £7,500.

HSE inspector, Niall Miller, said:

“This was an entirely avoidable, very serious incident resulting in
significant injuries to three people and the
demolition of a building.

“The risks of purging an LPG gas system without using the appropriate
equipment are well known and it is clearly stated in industry
guidance that flare stacks should be used when dealing
with gases heavier than air, such as propane.

“In addition, purging a system of this type should be carried
out by two people to ensure safety.”

If you have been affected by an accident at work, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email claims@hampsonhughes.com

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Company and individual in court after employee loses both of his legs

Both a scrap metal company and a businessman have been in court after serious safety breaches led to a site worker losing both of his legs.

What happened?

The 42-year-old worker was fixing a problem inside a five-metre long baler at H Ripley & Co’s East Sussex site, when the 16-tonne doors of the machine began to close.

He tried to stop the doors with the remote control, but it failed to respond.

He then made a last-minute attempt to escape in the last remaining seconds, but the force of the doors hit his legs as he attempted to crawl away.

One of his legs was severed, and the other was so seriously injured that it was later amputated in hospital.

An investigation into the incident found that H Ripley & Co had not ensured that a satisfactory isolation procedure for the baler was in place. Additionally, the court heard that the remote control, which had been built by John Platt, was faulty.

What was the outcome?

H Ripley & Co. pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £60,000 and ordered to pay £34,633 in costs.

John Platt pleaded guilty to breaching the same Act, and was fined £10,000 with £5,000 to pay toward costs.

HSE Inspector, Stephen Green, said:

“This was a horrific incident in which a worker suffered the loss of both
legs, endured a sixth-month period in hospital and who will
now spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

“It was also entirely preventable, H Ripley & Co had completely neglected
to consider the risks and identify control measures needed to
operate the machine safely. It had failed to ensure that
there was a system to isolate the machine from
power before anyone could get inside.

“It appears that no thought was given to the safety aspects of the remote
units for the baler or the way they worked. Had original remotes been
sourced or had John Platt manufactured fully functional
alternatives, it is likely the incident
would not have happened.”

If you have been affected by an accident at work, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email claims@hampsonhughes.com

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Firm in court after employee loses leg

Andrew Gore, who had no recognised training as a scaffolder, had to have his lower leg amputated after falling from some unguarded scaffolding.

What happened?

The 37-year-old was helping to dismantle scaffolding outside a nursing home, when he fell four metres onto the ground below.

The scaffold, which was erected by Mills Scaffold Company Ltd, was three lifts high and Mr Gore was working on the second lift. One of his colleagues was passing parts down to him from the third lift, which he, in turn, passed on to a colleague on the ground.

An investigation into the incident found that each of the lifts were only two boards wide, and Mr Gore had not been wearing a harness. Additionally, the firm had also failed to ensure that guardrails were in place to protect workers.

The incident happened after Mr Gore had undone the swivel coupling at the bottom of a brace, which he then inadvertently leaned on. As the brace moved he fell to the ground and sustained serious injuries.

He has since spent the majority of the year in hospital, and has undergone a number of operations including having his lower leg amputated because of an infection following the injury.

What was the outcome?

Mills Scaffold Company Ltd was fined a total of £15,000 and ordered to pay £1,118 in costs, after pleading guilty to a breach of the Work at Height regulations and Reporting of Injuries Regulations, as the incident was not reported for six months.

HSE Inspector, Hayley Healey, said:

“Mr Gore has suffered a great deal of pain and life changing injuries.
As a single parent of two young children, one of whom he
has custody for, his life has changed dramatically.

“This was a totally needless incident which could have been avoided if Mills
Scaffold Company had ensured a safe system of work had been in place.
And it was their responsibility to make sure trained workers were
used on the scaffolding. There is plenty of industry guidance
available about safely dismantling scaffolding.

“If simple methods of work had been followed, levels of competency
checked and good supervision in place on site, this work could
have been carried out safely. Falls from height remains one
of the most common causes of fatalities and major
injuries in the construction industry, with
more than five incidents every day.”

If you have been affected by an accident at work, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email claims@hampsonhughes.com

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Engineering firm fined after employee crushed by fan

Wilden Services Limited has been in court after a toppling fan unit crushed one of its employees during work for the World Wildlife Fund.

What happened?

The 54-year-old was installing a new ventilation system, when a fan unit weighing 630kg fell over as it was being moved, pinning him underneath.

He sustained serious injuries to his spine, and was unable to work for several weeks as a result of the incident.

An investigation into the incident found that it could have been prevented had the firm ensured a better system to move large objects had been in place.

What was the outcome?

Wilden Services Ltd pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay a further £7,148 in costs.

HSE inspector, Denis Bodger, said:

“The employee was seriously injured and could have been paralysed
had his spinal cord been damaged by the falling unit.

“Companies should always ensure that extreme care is taken when moving
heavy items, and that includes properly assessing the risks in
advance and agreeing a safe system of work.

“The incident was entirely avoidable with better planning and management.”

If you have been affected by an accident at work, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email claims@hampsonhughes.com

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Firm fined after employee seriously injures arm

A waste and recycling firm has been in court after one of its employees suffered crush injuries when his arm was caught in an unguarded moving conveyor belt.

What happened?

The 30 year-old employee was attempting to realign the in-feed conveyor belt on a newly-installed waste separating machine. To do so, the power had been turned off and a protective guard removed to enable access to the belt.

After finishing the job, he turned the power on and his left arm was drawn in between the two belts. He sustained painful injuries, but has since returned to work on a part time basis performing light duties.

An investigation into the incident found that GBN Services Ltd had failed to ensure that satisfactory isolation and lock-off procedures were in place at the Harlow site.

What was the outcome?

Following the investigation the firm’s site in Southend was issued with three Prohibition Notices to halt dangerous activity, plus a notice requiring specified improvements.

GBN Services Ltd pleaded guilty to breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and was fined £28,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,777

HSE Inspector, Corinne Godfrey, said:

“Incidents involving unguarded machinery are all too common and the onus is on
employers to ensure safe and robust systems of work are in place to protect
workers from dangerous moving parts of machinery. GBN Services failed
to heed previous advice from HSE relating to conveyor
guarding at its other sites.

“There are several deaths and 40,000 injuries each year due to incidents where workers
have been using machines, and most of these are easily prevented. Guards and
safety systems are required for a reason, and companies have a legal
duty of care to ensure they up to scratch and working
effectively at all times.”

If you have been affected by an accident at work, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email claims@hampsonhughes.com

Two firms in court after death of an elderly care home resident

Two companies have been fined following the death of an elderly resident at a care home in Manchester.

What happened?

92-year-old Irene Sharples was a resident at Alexian Brothers Care Centre in Moston, when a heavy fire door fell on her during a renovation of the premises.

Healthcare Management Trust Ltd, which runs the care home, had hired Rothwell Robinson Ltd to convert a bedroom with an en-suite bathroom into two toilets and a store room.

Almost a week after the work began, the fire door in the former bedroom fell and landed on top of Mrs Sharples, who was suffering from dementia and wandering the halls that night.

It took three people to lift the door off her, and she suffered multiple injuries including a broken hip. She returned to the care home after eight days in hospital, but her condition deteriorated and she died just under a month after the accident.

An investigation into the incident found that both the healthcare firm and building company had failed to ensure the room was locked at the end of each day.

Additionally, several other hazards were also uncovered, including loose skirting boards, exposed wiring, broken glass and rusty nails.

What was the outcome?

The Healthcare Management Trust pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £7,500 in prosecution costs.

Rothwell Robinson Ltd was fined £10,000 with costs of £7,500 after pleading guilty to the same offence.

HSE Inspector, Laura Moran, said:

“Both firms clearly knew there were vulnerable residents living at the care home
but they still allowed the door to what was essentially a building site
to be left unlocked on numerous occasions.

“Sadly, Mrs Sharples was severely injured when she wandered into the room, presumably
looking for her friend, and ultimately lost her life because of the failings
of the Healthcare Management Trust and Rothwell Robinson.

“Following the incident, the companies introduced a new procedure which meant workers
had to collect and return a key at the start and end of each day,
and lock the door when there was no one inside.

“If this system had been in place from the start of the building project then
Mrs Sharples would never have been able to get into the room.”

If you have been affected by an incident such as this, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email claims@hampsonhughes.com

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Former teacher convicted of indecent assault: John Mead to be sentenced

John Mead, 76, of Sabden, near Burnley, will be sentenced next month after being found guilty on four counts of abusing three boys under the age of 14.

The abuse took place during the 1970s. Preston Crown Court heard that during this period, Mead taught physics and music at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Blackburn. Mead organised overnight trips and excursions for young boys, where the abuse took place.

Mead denied the charges, which include:

  • Assaulting a boy in the shower more than once
  • Assaulting a boy after climbing into bed with him at night
  • Indecently touching a boy during a game of “monsters in the dark”

Preston Crown Court also heard that Mead had encouraged the boys to engage in conversations of a sexual nature, and that he had organised inappropriate activities such as urinating competitions and strip poker.

Comments from one of the victims were read out to the jury:

“I was shocked, surprised and confused. I felt as if in some way, it was my fault.
I thought it was shameful and as if I had done something wrong.

“As a child, you trust people in authority. I was aware
that something wrong had happened.”

Judge Christopher Cornwell commented:

“You have been convicted by the jury, rightly in
my judgement, in relation to four counts.

“Please be under no illusions – the mere fact that 40 years has passed does not in any
sense diminish the serious note of that what you did to these complainants.

“By the reason of your convictions, you have been found to be in
gross breach of the trust of those boys and their parents.

“I see no alternative to an immediate custodial sentence.”

Although Mead was cleared on two counts of indecent assault, Judge Cornwell warned that this should not be taken as a sign that a prison sentence may be avoided.

Mead has been placed on the sex offenders register. He is due to be sentenced on the 25th July.

If you have had experience of sexual abuse, and you would like expert confidential advice, please contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email claims@hampsonhughes.com

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Child nearly falls as road collapses beneath her feet

A child has narrowly escaped falling four feet, as a hole in the pavement appeared beneath her.

What happened?

Residents of Welsh Streets in Liverpool have said that a young girl nearly fell through the pavement, when a four-foot deep hole appeared on Treborth Street last week.

There is currently an inquiry into the redevelopment of the streets in this area, which was called after plans to redevelop the area were approved by the council but opposed by the UK Government last year.

One resident said:

“We have been petitioning for our houses to be pulled down as we are
living in such poor conditions, meanwhile the streets our
children are living in are potentially dangerous too.”

Hampson Hughes Solicitors represents individuals who have been injured as a result of public negligence. If you would like expert advice, contact us today on 0800 888 6888 or email claims@hampsonhughes.com

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Illegal gas fitter puts families at risk

Monwar Ali has been fined after illegally carrying out gas work at two homes in Hyde, putting the lives of two families at risk.

What happened?

A court heard that the 40-year-old had been paid £21,000 to carry out a loft conversion at a house on Norbury Avenue in 2011.

Despite being unqualified and unregistered to do so, he removed the flue pipe connected to the boiler. The pipe wasn’t replaced for almost two months, allowing fumes to spill into the house.

During a routine annual check two months later the boiler was classified as being immediately dangerous, and the family was forced to move it downstairs with new pipework at an additional cost to them of nearly £500.

Additionally, the court heard that Mr Ali had also been contracted to build a two-floor extension to a house on Harbour Farm Road during the same year.

Despite not being registered to perform the work he had included the Gas Safe Register logo on his quote, incorrectly giving the customer the impression he was able to carry out gas work.

He was paid almost £50,000 for the work, and moved the gas boiler on two occasions.

What was the outcome?

Monwar Ali pleaded guilty to six breaches of the Gas Safety Regulations 1998 between 28 December 2010 and 31 August 2011.

He was ordered to pay £2,000 towards prosecution costs, and carry out 220 hours of unpaid work within the next 12 months.

HSE Inspector, Ian Betley, said:

“Monwar Ali put the lives of two families at risk by working on gas boilers
at two properties without the appropriate training and without
being registered to work with gas.

“One of the boilers was found to be immediately dangerous and it’s only luck
that no one was seriously harmed by carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Gas work has the potential to be extremely dangerous if it isn’t carried
out by trained professionals. Mr Ali knew he wasn’t up to the job
but he still took money for work he wasn’t qualified to
do, putting profit before safety.”

If you have been affected by an incident such as this, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email claims@hampsonhughes.com

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