Welcome to HSE prosecutions in brief. An overview of this weeks prosecutions by the HSE.

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Dorset builder ignored asbestos risks

A self-employed builder has been fined for demolishing a building without first carrying out an asbestos survey.

Stuart Pearson, of Verwood, Dorset, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) at Guildford Magistrates’ Court for breaching the Control of Asbestos Regulations between 20 April and 1 May 2011.

The court was told today (30 April) he had been employed to carry out the demolition of a house in Woking, Surrey, before groundworks were laid for a new property.

Mr Pearson was given a recent Asbestos Management Survey of one area of the house that had been carried out for the previous owner. The survey had been commissioned after a plumber had refused to repair the boiler due to the presence of asbestos.

The survey highlighted that there were 12 metres of asbestos in poor condition with two of three areas classified as ‘high risk’. It went on to state: ‘This material is in very poor condition and debris now exists around the boiler and the floor within the rest of the room. This room must not be accessed until a full environmental clean and removal of all asbestos-containing materials have been carried out by a licensed asbestos contractor.’

The report added that the removal had to be undertaken in controlled conditions with the use of ‘enclosures, airlocks, negative pressure units and decontamination units.’

However, Mr Pearson went ahead and demolished the property without having a pre-demolition survey carried out on the entire property to ensure that all asbestos was identified and removed.

HSE began an investigation after a scientific officer from Woking Borough Council visited the site and raised concerns about possible asbestos contamination.

Mr Pearson, of Badger Way, Verwood, Dorset, pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 5 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. He was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,500.

Comments from the HSE through the link.

Fresh safety warning issued over pesticide storage

A fresh warning has been issued about storing pesticides safely, after a West Norfolk pest controller was prosecuted for keeping them in an unlocked garden shed.

Natural England and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued the joint alert after Andrew Bray, who carries out rabbit and fox control on farms across West Norfolk, was fined £1,000 over two pesticide offences.

Workers who use pesticides are now being warned they risk being prosecuted if they fail to follow the law for storing them safely.

Norfolk police officers found nine pesticide containers of aluminium phosphide when they searched Mr Bray’s home in Heacham, where he lived with his young son, on 9 January 2012. Aluminium phosphide is a moisture-activated gassing compound, which produces a very toxic gas that can be deadly.

Eight of the containers held Luxan Talunex, which is no longer authorised for storage and use in the UK, and the other one held Rentokil Phostoxin. The pesticides had not been stored in a metal or fire-resistant cabinet and there was no warning sign on the unlocked shed.

Some of the containers had been opened and resealed after use – a practice which could have led to the release of a dangerous gas if they had come into contact with water. The labels on many of the containers were also decayed and difficult to read.

Read full story here.

Global brick making firm fined after worker crushed

A multinational brick making company has been fined after a worker suffered serious injuries when he was crushed on a conveyor belt at its Worcestershire factory.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Wienerberger Ltd following the incident on 19 October 2009 at the company’s site at Hartlebury, near Kidderminster.

Kidderminster Magistrates’ Court heard how the 48-year-old man, who does not want to be named, was rectifying a fault which had stopped a brick packaging line from moving.

He entered the safety zone around the line, which was protected by a perimeter fence with interlocked access gates, and climbed up onto the conveyor belt to fix the problem. However, the line suddenly restarted, activating a pallet lifter which came down and crushed him.

He suffered a serious puncture wound to his back, cracked several ribs and sustained extensive bruising to his face and leg. He was off work for six weeks.

HSE’s investigation found an interlock on one of the gates, which should have isolated the machinery, had been disconnected some days before the incident to allow a printer within the perimeter fence to be serviced.

The company had also failed to carry out an adequate assessment of the risks arising from working on the printer within the perimeter security fence and the controls required.

Wienerberger Ltd, of Brooks Drive, Cheadle Royal Business Park, Cheadle, Cheshire, pleaded guilty today to breaching Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and Regulation 11(3) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined a total of £20,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £11,611.

Comments from the HSE through the link.

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Dorset contractor sentenced over worker death

A building contractor has been fined over serious safety breaches after a worker was killed by a piece of falling cob wall being demolished by his son.

Alaister Copland, trading as Do it Al, was fined a total of £10,000 and ordered to pay compensation to the family of £2,390 at Dorchester Crown Court in a case brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after the fatal incident.

Agency workers Jamie Ford 24 and his father, Stephen Ford, 50, were working under the control of Do It Al to demolish a barn at Dunbury Farmhouse in Winterbourne Houghton near Blandford in November 2008.

Son Jamie was using a handtool to demolish the wall when a piece came down and hit his father Stephen on the head. The HSE investigation found neither man was wearing a hard hat and Stephen, of Poole, died of his injuries at the scene.

The court heard no plan of work for the demolition was in place and Alaister Copland had no experience in demolition work of this kind.

Copland, of Queen’s Drive, Moreton, Dorchester, pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 3 (2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Comments from the HSE through the link.

Church Broughton man fined after worker seriously injured

A Church Broughton man has been fined after an employee suffered life-changing injuries when his quad bike overturned at a farm in Derbyshire.

The 42-year-old employee, who has asked not to be named, and also from Church Broughton, was driving the all terrain vehicle (ATV) along a track at Lodge Hill Farm, Barton Blount, on 9 June 2010.

The worker, who was employed by JD and RL Spalton, was rounding up sheep when the vehicle overturned causing him to sustain multiple injuries. The man was airlifted to hospital with a damaged liver, broken jaw and stomach wound. He also lost his right eye, and was in intensive care for more than two weeks. He has since returned to work on light duties.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the vehicle was in a poorly maintained condition with defects to the tyres, steering and brakes. The tyres were overinflated contrary to the manufacturer’s clearly identified recommendations on a warning sign on the vehicle.

The investigation also found that had a suitable helmet have been supplied the severity of the injuries to the man’s head and face would have been greatly reduced.

David Spalton, a partner of JD and RL Spalton, was prosecuted at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court yesterday for failing to provide suitable protective equipment and failing to ensure that the ATV was properly maintained.

Mr Spalton pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 and Regulation 5 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

He was fined a total of £2,500 and ordered to pay £2,000 costs.

Comments from the HSE through the link.

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Bolton pallet factory convicted after fingers severed

A Bolton pallet manufacturer has been convicted for health and safety offences after a factory worker’s fingers were cut off by a rotating saw.

The 27-year-old lost three fingers on his left hand, down to the second knuckle, while working at Frank Hill Ltd on the Scot Lane Industrial Estate in Blackrod. The firm was prosecuted after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found there was no guard on the saw and the worker had not received training on how to use it.

Manchester Crown Court heard the worker, who has asked not to be named, had been holding a large piece of wood while his colleague cut through it, when his hand caught on the rotating blade on 22 December 2010.

When an HSE inspector visited the site, she immediately issued two Prohibition Notices preventing that saw and another similar saw from being used until guards had been put in place.

Frank Hill Ltd, which formerly traded as IPC Services, was found guilty of two breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 on following a trial at Trafford Magistrates Court on 16 December 2012.

The company went into liquidation on 28 July 2011 and was fined £2 with no costs during a sentencing hearing at Manchester Crown Court on 30 April 2012.

Comments from the HSE through the link.

Illegal gas fitter prosecuted for endangering lives

An illegal gas fitter has been prosecuted for endangering lives at a property in Surrey with shoddy and unsafe work.

Michael Gill, 66, installed a new gas boiler and flue at a house in Kingsmead Park, Elstead, on 5 March 2008, both of which were left in a dangerous condition.

Guildford Magistrates’ Court heard today (1 May) that he falsely claimed to be a registered gas engineer approved by the Health and Safety Executive to carry out gas work.

He continued to operate with bogus CORGI accreditation and returned to the same property on four separate occasions between 5 March 2009 and 22 June 2011 to annually service the boiler. During this time he should have been registered with the Gas Safe Register, which replaced CORGI as the watchdog for gas safety on 1 April 2009.

Gas Safe Register inspected the boiler and found a number of defects with Mr Gill’s installation. Three of these were classed as ‘immediately dangerous’, four were designated ‘at risk’ and six were deemed as ‘not to current standards’. As a result the gas supply was turned off until the boiler and flue were made safe, and the matter was passed to HSE.

Mr Gill, of Beech Hanger Road, Grayshott, pleaded guilty to multiple breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 for his work and for operating illegally. He was fined £600 and ordered to pay £385 in costs. He attended court having been arrested for failing to show at an earlier hearing on 30 April.

Comments from the HSE through the link.

Steel firm in court over employee’s injuries

A Preston steel firm has appeared in court after a working platform slid off the forks of a forklift truck and struck one of its employees.

The 50-year-old fractured a rib and suffered muscle and back injuries when he was hit by the heavy metal platform at EDV Reinforcements Ltd on the Redscar Industrial Estate on 20 January 2011.

The company, which manufactures and supplies steel products, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found the platform had not been secured to the forklift, and instead was just resting on the forks.

Preston Magistrates’ Court was today told the truck was being used to lift a pile of steel mesh when the platform slid off. No one was standing on the platform at the time, but the injured worker was on the ground nearby.

EDV Reinforcements Ltd pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of its employees.

The company, of Longridge Road in Preston, was fined £7,000 and ordered to pay £3,566 in prosecution costs.

Comments from the HSE through the link.

Firm fined after worker’s fall from forklift

A North Devon farming business has been prosecuted for safety failings after a worker fractured his skull falling from the prong of a forklift truck at an animal feed mill.

Richard Robinson, 64, from Pyworthy, near Holsworthy, was attempting to crush recycled material when the fall occurred at Cross Mill, Holsworthy Beacon, on 3 August last year.

His employer, WJ Watkins and Son Ltd, today (2 May) appeared before Barnstaple Magistrates in a prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The court heard that some workers had developed their own system of working, which involved being lifted by forklifts and climbing into large bags of recycled material that were suspended in the air. They then trampled down material in the bags to make more room before coming down again on the forklifts.

The company did not provide any fixed alternative methods for the workmen to reach the bags in a safe and controlled manner.

Mr Robinson fell about one-and-a-half metres from the forklift to the concrete below.

WJ Watkins and Son Ltd, of Highfield, Holsworthy Beacon, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 for allowing dangerous working practices. The company was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,226.

Comments from the HSE through the link.

Yeovil construction company prosecuted after worker hit by fork lift truck

A Yeovil construction company has been fined after a subcontracted worker suffered serious injuries when he was struck by a fork lift truck.

Experienced ground worker Paul Daniels, 50, suffered shattered bones and almost lost his foot in the incident on 10 September 2010. His employer CJL Construction Ltd had been subcontracted by Brookvale Homes SW (Ltd) to install external drainage to a row of newly built terrace properties at Bartlett Elms in Langport, Somerset.

Yeovil Magistrates Court heard today (3 May) that Mr Daniels was inspecting the fall of external drain pipes adjacent to a main haul road opposite the site offices.

He was hit in the chest and knocked down by the front right stabiliser of a fork lift truck that drove towards him. The wheel ran over his lower right leg, crushing his bones and partially amputating his foot.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Brookvale Homes (SW) Ltd had failed to manage the safe movement of pedestrians and vehicles around the construction site because there were no designated walkways, pavements or restricted vehicle only areas.

The location of storage areas and skips meant there was a significant amount of vehicle traffic across and around one of the main pedestrian thoroughfares. On the day of the incident, there was an obstruction that significantly narrowed the width of the carriageway and the space available to the forklift driver.

Brookvale Homes (SW) Ltd, of Alvington, Yeovil was found guilty of breaching Section Regulation 36 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 in relation to the incident. The company was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £7,576.40 in costs.

Comments from the HSE through the link.

Fruit company failed to protect injured worker

A horticultural business in Southampton has been prosecuted for safety failings after a worker injured his hand on an unguarded machine.

General labourer Edmund Skweres, 52, suffered a deep cut that required 11 stitches in the incident at A E Roberts (Fruitgrower & Nurseryman) Ltd, on Gravel Hill, Shirrell Heath, on 7 February last year.

Fareham Magistrates’ Court heard today (3 May) that he was attempting to clear waste around the jaws of a root packing machine when his right hand was caught between a metal drive wheel and a guide rail.

The machine uses a hydraulic ram to push a moveable jaw against a fixed jaw to compress compost around the bare roots of plants. The drive wheel cut into his hand through his glove and lacerated the skin between his thumb and forefinger. He was off work for a month as a result of the injury.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified that guarding could and should have prevented access to dangerous moving parts on the root packer. A E Roberts operated five similar machines, each lacking guarding in this area.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 for guarding failures, and was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £2,000 in costs.

Comments from the HSE through the link.

Director fined after worker’s fatal fall through roof

The director of a building firm has been prosecuted after a self-employed contractor fell to his death through a fragile roof at an industrial building in Penryn.

Paul Gibbons, 59, who lived in Porthleven, was carrying out re-roofing work for Acryflor Ltd at the Kernick Road Industrial Estate on 22 September 2008 when he fell eight metres through a fragile part of the asbestos cement roof onto the floor below. He was taken to hospital but died of his injuries later that day.

An HSE investigation into the incident found that Onyx Europe Ltd, (formerly Acryflor Ltd) had failed to put adequate safety measures in place at the site despite the risks involved with working at height.

Truro Crown Court heard yesterday (3 May) the work had not been adequately planned and no safety nets or crash deck platforms had been provided to mitigate the effects of a fall.

Matthew Peter Williams, of Trelan Farm, Menerdue Lane, Carnmenellis, Redruth pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £2,500 and ordered to pay costs of £2,500 after the judge heard he was £1.5 million in debt and had an annual income of £15,000.

Comments from the HSE through the link.

Shropshire egg supplier fined for worker’s fall

A Shropshire egg supplier has been prosecuted after a female worker suffered serious foot injuries falling through a hole in the floor of a poultry barn.

The 43-year-old Shropshire woman, who does not wish to be named, fractured two bones in her left ankle and the heel bone in her right ankle as result of the fall on 26 July 2011. The injuries have prevented her returning to work at Staveley’s Eggs Ltd, where she had been an egg packer for six years.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) today told Shrewsbury Magistrates’ Court that floorboards had been taken up for building work immediately behind a door regularly used by the worker on an upper floor. No warning signs had been posted and no one had informed her of the repair work being carried out.

The woman opened the door outwards and fell more than two metres onto the concrete ground floor below, shattering bones in both ankles.

The court heard she spent eight days in hospital for an operation to have two plates inserted into her left ankle in order to stabilize the joint.  She has since had a further operation on this ankle and suffers from poor mobility.

HSE prosecuted the worker’s employer, Staveley’s Eggs Ltd, based at Stoke-on-Tern, after an investigation revealed that no written risk assessments or basic instructions existed and that the flooring work was only verbally discussed. No safeguards to prevent a fall from height had been identified nor were any protection measures in place.

Staveley’s Eggs Ltd of ‘The Poplars’, Warrant Road, Stoke-on-Tern,  Market Drayton, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 6(3) and 11 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was today fined £25,000 and ordered to pay £2,386 costs.

Comments from the HSE through the link.