Month: December 2014

Bristol sex abuse claims

Thirteen men in Bristol have been found guilty of the systematic sexual abuse of vulnerable girls – some of whom were in local authority care – and police are investigating claims against 49 other suspects.

Ongoing sexual abuse

The victims, some as young as 13, were groomed by their abusers for extensive periods of time and forced to sleep with multiple men – often for minimal sums of money.

One girl was set up in a flat at the age of 16 by a local authority outside Bristol, despite having been described as having the emotional development of a three-year-old.

The men set up a base in her new home, within hours of her arriving, and forced her to work as a prostitute.

The abuse allegedly lasted for months, despite her telling care workers about what was happening. Her 14-year-old sister was also raped by the men during a visit.

Six of the offenders have already begun jail terms for crimes including paying a child for sex, rape and arranging or facilitating payments for the sexual offences of a child.

Another seven have since been convicted of offences including trafficking, sexual acts with children, causing or inciting child prostitution and rape.

Further investigations

Ten girls made allegations against the 13 convicted men, but Avon and Somerset police have said they are actively pursuing nine other investigations across the area.

It is understood that 48 victims and 49 suspects are involved in these investigations.

A serious case review is examining whether more should have been done to protect the girls.

If you have any information regarding sex abuse across Bristol, and you would like expert guidance and valuable support going forward, please contact Greg Neill on 0151 242 1069 or via email: gregneill@hh-law.co.uk

We will ensure that your case remains confidential, and that all guilty parties are held accountable.

Company in court after apprentice hit by pressurised hose

An engineering firm has been fined after one of its young apprentices sustained injuries when he was struck on the back by a pressurised hose.

What happened?

The 16-year-old, had been walking towards the pressure testing area to collect some equipment when he heard a loud noise coming from the hoses, which were being tested. Before he had a chance to move, a hose whipped up in the air and struck him on the back, knocking him to the ground.

He was rushed to hospital but made a full recovery and returned to work five days later.

An investigation into the incident found that a section of the hose hadn’t been tightened enough, and so broke free from its coupling.

The court heard that there had been failures like this in the past, but as they hadn’t resulted in an accident the management continued to allow workers to carry on testing the hoses in this way.

The pressure testing area of the workshop had been segregated using plastic tape; unfortunately this hadn’t been calculated at a safe distance to prevent injuries and the size of the testing area was left up to the individual doing the testing.

Additionally, the court heard that formal training hadn’t been provided for staff carrying out the testing.

What was the outcome?

Alfred Cheyne Engineering Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £10,000.

HSE Principal Inspector, Niall Miller, said:

“This incident could have easily been avoided if Alfred Cheyne Engineering
Ltd had carried out a risk assessment for the pressure testing of
hose assemblies, which would have identified the safety
measures required to reduce any risks.

“The need for pressure testing to be segregated from other work and for
employees not to be allowed to approach any equipment while it is
under pressure is well documented in guidance, which is
readily available.

“In this case the young apprentice was lucky to receive only cuts and
bruises, his injuries could have been a lot worse.”

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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NHS trust faces fine after surgery patient sustains serious burns

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells hospital trust has apologised after a one of its patients needed skin grafts for burns to his buttock and hip.

What happened

Health and safety inspector, Mike Wilcock, was undergoing an operation to remove a cyst on his kidney at Maidstone hospital in Kent, when he suffered serious burns caused by a warming blanket.

The court heard that the temperature of the blanket, which can rise to 50C in less than an hour, had soared during the operation because a cold saline bag had been touching a sensor.

The 58-year-old’s injuries were only discovered after the surgery, when he was referred to a burns unit. He has since needed repeated hospital treatment for the injury, and has also developed heart problems.

An investigation into the incident found that, since the hospital trust had acquired the equipment 17 months before, they had committed eight breaches of duty.

These breaches included; failing to provide sufficient training on how to use the equipment, and not properly investigating two previous incidents involving the machine.

What was the outcome?

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS trust admitted failing in its duty under the Health and Safety Act 1974, and is facing a fine of between £200,000 and £300,000.

After the hearing, Mr Wilcock said:

“I have changed my perception of life. I have scars that will last for
the rest of my life, causing pain and discomfort.

“This equipment is used in lots of hospitals. That worries me. Are other
hospitals using the equipment training their staff to use it
properly? How could two previous patients have suffered
minor injuries and not be noticed? How many
other hospitals has that happened?

“I have no personal animosity for the individuals concerned. I know they
have been personally upset by the incident. If I had been a child
or a vulnerable older adult, we could have been talking about
a death because of the seriousness of the burn.”

If you have been affected by medical negligence, and you would like expert advice, contact the Hampson Hughes Solicitors Medical Negligence Team today on 0151 242 1025 or email medicalnegligence@hampsonhughes.com

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Stair lift manufacturer in court after driver seriously injured

A stair lift manufacturer, based in Durham, has been in court after one of its delivery drivers sustained serious injuries when he was hit by a reversing fork lift truck.

What happened?

The 62-year-old contractor had been working in the “goods in” area of the factory. He was heading back to his vehicle when he saw a fork lift truck reversing towards him.

Instinctively, he moved in an attempt to avoid it, but the vehicle turned in the same direction and knocked him to the ground, running over both of his feet.

He suffered serious injuries, including a de-gloving of his big toe, which he received surgery for. Unfortunately this was unsuccessful, and his toe was amputated a month later.

An investigation into the incident found that, whilst the driver of the fork lift had failed to ensure that there was no one behind him before he reversed, there was also inadequate management of vehicles and pedestrians.

For example, delivery drivers were able to walk around the loading bays while lorries were being loaded.

What was the outcome?

Meditek Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £3,300 and ordered to pay £790.60 in costs and £1,000 compensation.
HSE inspector, Victoria Wise, said:

“Meditek cooperated fully with HSE’s investigation and accepted that this
incident was easily preventable had it identified the risks to
pedestrians in the loading area associated
with moving vehicles.

“The close proximity of the delivery driver in an area where a fork
lift truck was reversing was unsafe. The risks associated with
pedestrians and vehicles working in proximity to each other
are well known and there is plenty of advice available
on how to reduce those risks.

“This delivery driver suffered a serious injury because of
the company’s failures.”

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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Six-year-old who suffered devastating birth injuries awarded £7m in damages

Chase Lorck, who has cerebral palsy after suffering a lack of oxygen to his brain during his birth at King’s College Hospital, London in 2008, has been awarded £7m in damages.

What happened?

The court heard that midwives, who had been subcontracted by the hospital, had failed to implement a plan that had been agreed between the baby’s mother and her doctor beforehand.

Instead they encouraged her to go ahead with a natural birth, despite having already been advised to have a caesarean section because the baby was in a breech position.

Eventually it became too late to perform a caesarean and a normal delivery took place. Because of complications caused by the baby’s position, when he was born there were no signs of life and no heartbeat was recorded until over 10 minutes after he was delivered.

Chase, who is now six-years-old, will require a wheelchair and 24-hour nursing care for the rest of his life.

The ruling

King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has admitted liability in the case of Chase Lorck.

Chase and his family will receive a £3.1m lump sum, along with annual payments of £300,000 every year until his 18th birthday, when the annual amount increases to £320,000 for the rest of his life.

This will allow them to implement a care regime for Chase, as well as pay for therapies and equipment alongside obtaining expert evidence to consider his needs.

Lawyer, Auriana Griffiths, said:

“It has been heart-breaking for the family to know that Chase’s injuries
would have been avoided with appropriate care; if the midwives
had followed the instructions of the doctor and agreed plan.

“The family hope that maternity staff at the hospital and those
subcontracted to the NHS receive the essential training
needed to plug the knowledge gaps highlighted by
this case to prevent future needless tragedies.”

If you have been affected by medical negligence, and you would like expert advice, contact the Hampson Hughes Solicitors Medical Negligence Team today on 0151 242 1025 or email medicalnegligence@hampsonhughes.com

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Warburtons in court after employee is injured

Baking firm, Warburtons Ltd, has been fined after one of its maintenance workers injured his hand when it was dragged into a conveyor at a Newcastle factory.

What happened?

The 41-year-old employee was attempting to identify a fault on a hot tin slat conveyor belt, and was lying on the floor holding a torch. The conveyor knocked the torch out of his hand and, as he reached out to grab it, his hand was pulled into the roller underneath the machinery.

He sustained injuries to his right hand including tissue damage and an open fracture, which required surgery. He was off work for more than two months and is still suffering from side-effects relating to the injury.

An investigation into the incident found that only dangerous parts of machinery were only guarded by a crumb tray, which was easily removed from the conveyor by quick release catches. Additionally the machine hadn’t been isolated from all power sources during this particular maintenance operation, as it should have been.

New guards have since been fitted to the machine, which can only be removed using a specific tool. Additionally the company have produced specific systems of work for regular maintenance activities and ensured all relevant staff were trained in the new systems.

What was the outcome?

Warburtons Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £1,162.50 in costs.

HSE Inspector Sal Brecken said:

“This worker’s injuries should not and need not have happened. This
incident was easily preventable had Warburtons Ltd identified
the risks from the maintenance activities and monitored
the work undertaken by their employees.

“Guards and safety systems are there for a reason and companies have
a legal duty to ensure they are properly fitted and working
effectively at all times, especially during
maintenance activities.

“Ideally, machines undergoing repair should be isolated from their
power source. The measures Warburtons Ltd took following the
incident, could have easily been implemented beforehand
and prevented it from occurring.”

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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