The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Danger from overhead falling objects

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The danger of "working below" - in situations where items can fall from height and strike workers has again been highlighted by the prosection in the UK of Steel manufacturer Tata Steel and a specialist contractor.

A fine totalling £320,000 has been handed down for safety failings after a worker was killed by a falling metal bar in the steelworks at Redcar.

Kristian Norris from Middlesbrough was working for Vesuvius UK Limited at the time of the fatal incident on 12 April 2008.

He was hit on the head by a  metal bar that fell approximately 30 feet from overhead.

Teesside Crown Court heard today that an investigation by the UK Health and Safety Executive (UK HSE) found that adequate precautions were not in place to control the risk of falling objects.

This was a failing on the part of both Vesuvius, and Tata Steel UK Limited, which then owned Teesside Cast Products where work was being undertaken.

Tragically, both company's were aware of the safety problems but both allowed the unsafe work to continue.

Vesuvius UK Limited and Tata Steel UK Limited both pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 10(1), of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Vesuvius was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £24,020. Tata Steel UK Limited was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay costs of £24,020.

After sentencing, HSE Inspector Richard Bulmer, said:

"Kristian’s tragic death may have been prevented had Vesuvius UK Limited and Tata Steel UK Limited made simple and adequate provisions to protect employees working beneath work and lift platforms. The risks associated with work at height are well known, as are the necessary safeguards. Yet on this occasion the precautions taken to prevent people or objects from falling were wholly insufficient and sorely lacking."


UK HSE Public Consuiltation on EU Chemicals Legislation

Graham Marshall - Sunday, January 27, 2013

The UK Health and Safety Executive (UK HSE) is holding a public consultation on regulatory measures to support EU chemicals legislation and proposals on reducing seven existing sets of domestic regulations into one statutory instrument.

The UK HSE is consulting on regulatory proposals for measures supporting three directly applicable EU chemicals Regulations on:

1.  Biocidal Products (EU no. 528/2012);

2.  The Export and Import of Hazardous Chemicals (commonly known as the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Regulation) (EU no. 649/2012); and

3.  Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) of substances and mixtures (EC no. 1272/2008).

The proposals implement a Löfstedt recommendation to consolidate biocides sector legislation, and also to meet EU requirements to establish competent authorities, designated national authorities and enforcement arrangements (as appropriate.

Overall the proposal will reduce seven existing statutory instruments into one.

The UK HSE also proposes to put in place new regulations to enable the UK HSE to charge for the work it carries out under the new Biocides Regulation.

This will, however, be covered in a separate consultation on  the proposed fee regime,  including the fee structure and fee levels.

The UK HSE also seek your views on the possibility of recovering HSE’s costs under CLP, and are further consulting on unrelated administrative amendments to other domestic chemicals regulations.

No changes are proposed to the main duties for Biocides, PIC and CLP, which are, or will be, established at EU level in directly applicable Regulations.

This consultation ends on 31 January 2013.

Responses should be sent to:

Deborah Traynor

Health and Safety Executive
Redgrave Court
Merton Road
L20 7HS
Fax: 0151 951 3098


Chair of the Workforce Involvement Group

Graham Marshall - Friday, January 25, 2013

The UK HSE has announced that Dave Walker has now taken over from Fraser Easton as Chair of the Workforce Involvement Group.

Other WIG Members include:

Russell Thomas - WIG Administrator

Lisa McGhee - WIG Administrator

Paul Adamson - HSE Offshore Regulatory Inspector

Mikey Craig - Transocean

Nicky Elphinstone - TOTAL, Safety Representative

Willie Gibson - Corporate Health Safety Enviroment, Production Services Network (PSN)

Leslie Larchet - OIM, Centrica Storage

Phil Ley - Offshore Contractors Association (OCA)

Frank Cairney - HSE Manager, Petrofac

Jake Molloy - Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers (RMT)

Bob Lauder - Oil & Gas UK

Mark Milne - International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC)

John Taylor - UNITE The Union

Duncan Tee - OIM, Teekay Petrojarl

Austin Grant - OIM, CNR International

Les Linklater - Step Change in Safety 

Newton Aycliffe Safety Workshops

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Businesses in the NE of England town of Newton Aycliffe  are being offered workshops in OHS as part of a new initiative to provide free information, support and guidance.

The Estates Excellence initiative, organized by a range of partners, will offer a series of special events at South West Durham Training premises.

The workshops will offer free expert advice covering a wide range of topics such as:

+  Fire risk assessments;

+  Control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH); and

+  Practical manual handling.

The Estates Excellence team will be approaching businesses in the town over the next few weeks to explain the services they can offer.

If a business wants to take part, further meetings will be set up to assess its operations, identify any risks and then provide relevant workshops on topics such as risk assessment, stress at work, workplace transport, manual handling and fire management.

Estates Excellence has been organized by Durham and North Yorkshire Safety Group and South West Durham Training, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Durham County Council, and is supported by Great Aycliffe Town Council.

Other partners supporting the initiative include North East TUC, Engineering Employers Federation (EEF), NHS County Durham, Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, Federation of Small Businesses, ARCO and local companies.

UK Courts highlight the need for conveyor guarding

Graham Marshall - Sunday, January 20, 2013

The importance of appropriate guarding of moving and rotating parts on equipment has again been highlighted by the UK courts following a successful prosecution of a Deeside company.

Mainetti (UK) Ltd has been fined £60,000 and ordered to pay costs of £21,668 after a worker had her hair ripped out by a poorly guarded conveyor belt.

Kelly Nield, 25, was working on a conveyor when her scarf and hair became caught in the chain and sprocket drive of the belt as she bent over to remove accumulated clothes hangers.

She sustained serious throat injuries, lost a substantial part of her hair and fractured a finger in the incident on 11 April 2009 at Mainetti (UK) Ltd in Deeside Industrial Park.

Miss Nield needed a number of operations and was in hospital for three months.

The incident was investigated by the UK HSE which prosecuted the company for serious safety failings at Mold Crown Court.

Mainetti (UK) Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching three regulations under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (1998) and one breach under Regulation 3 of the Management of Health at Safety at Work Regulations (1999).

Although Mainetti had fitted a guard to the conveyor, it did not fully enclose the dangerous moving parts.

And there was no emergency stop button on the conveyor.

The company's risk assessment also failed to identify the dangers of entanglement in conveyors, and the need to keep hair and loose clothing secure when near the machinery was poorly enforced.

HSE Inspector David Wynne, speaking after the hearing, said: "These horrific, life-changing injuries sustained by Ms Nield could easily have been avoided if the right safeguarding measures had been taken by Mainetti (UK) Ltd.  There are well-known risks associated with working with conveyor belts. It is vital, therefore, that the risks are fully assessed and guarding provided to prevent access to moving parts. Where appropriate, emergency stop controls should be installed in readily accessible places.  Employers must also ensure that workers are properly monitored, supervised and trained when working with this sort of equipment."


Wallop Defence Systems Finded £376,000

Graham Marshall - Monday, December 31, 2012

Wallop Defence Systems Ltd (WDS) has been ordered to pay £376,000 in fines and costs for safety failings that caused a fatal explosion at its Hampshire (UK) factory.

Anthony Sheridan, 37, was killed from injuries sustained in the blast at WDS in June 2006.

Mr Sheridan was emptying one of six industrial ovens used in the manufacture of military flares.

The ovens contained high levels of nitroglycerin (NG) that exploded, causing an explosion that destroyed the factory building.

Several other workers were injured in the incident, with blast debris landing up to 600' away.

Winchester Crown Court heard that WDS had realized in 2004 that their process for curing pellets as part of the production of military flares produced the explosive chemical as a by-product.

An investigation by the UK HSE found that none of the company's senior management team or technical advisers were competent to deal with the NG issue, but did not seek external professional assistance.

Reviewing the company's procedures since NG was discovered in 2004, UK HSE found WDS was not complying with the basics in explosive safety and failed to adhere to licensing requirements for the storage and processing of explosive substances.

Their failure to properly assess and manage the risk put workers and the public in danger.

A second explosion occurred in December 2008 when the company attempted to dismantle the remaining NG contaminated oven on the company's second site.

No one was injured in the explosion.

The court heard that the company failed to engage with the UK HSE and seek competent expert advice on dismantling it and that the incident was entirely foreseeable and avoidable.

WDS was fined a total of £266,000 and ordered to pay £110,000 in costs for three breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, two relating to the fatal explosion and the other to the second blast.

Speaking after sentencing, Qamar Khan, Principal Inspector for UK HSE's explosives team, said: "Anthony Sheridan suffered horrifying injuries in the explosion that caused his death. "Both this explosion and the subsequent blast in December 2008 were foreseeable and preventable had the company sought and taken appropriate advice and implemented the correct measures. If these steps had been taken Anthony Sheridan would still be alive. "It is especially concerning that despite issues with the factory being reported to senior WDS management, nothing materially changed to safeguard employees and the public. The company deluded itself that everything was OK and in hand. "Companies working with dangerous substances must take extreme care at all times and in all aspects of their operations. That clearly didn't happen here, and the consequences were tragic."

Warning on Fire Resistant Composite Materials

Graham Marshall - Sunday, October 14, 2012

This alert is to warn operators that fire resistant composite materials, especially FRP deck gratings, used offshore may fail, or lose integrity, after exposure to relatively short duration hydrocarbon pool fires.

The time taken for this is considerably shorter than the specified resistance period of 60 minutes derived from the certifying test for cellulosic fires.

Duty Holders must determine whether composite gratings are used in areas with potential hydrocarbon fire exposure and identify means of ensuring the safety of personnel should they walk on weakened gratings.

This Safety Notice is being issued a result of investigations by the Health and Safety Executive into the consequences of exposing Fibre Reinforced Plastic (FRP) deck gratings to hydrocarbon pool fires.

These gratings are commonly used by the offshore industry as a result of their apparent advantages over steel gratings and factors such as fire resistance certification, light weight and improved environmental resistance.

At present FRP deck gratings are certified against US Coast Guard specifications PFM 2-98 and NVIC 9-97-CH1, which employ a combination of load tests and a 60 minute 'fire' exposure to a test furnace to mimic the heat profile of a cellulosic, rather than a hydrocarbon fire.

Celluosic fires have slow growth times and may reach a temperature of 880 ºC after 60 minutes, compared to hydrocarbon fires which can, typically, reach temperatures around 1100 ºC in significantly less time.

Hydrocarbon jet fires will produce even higher temperatures within even shorter impingement times.

Tests by the Health & Safety Laboratory (HSL), on behalf of HSE, have determined that certain types of FRP gratings based on a glass reinforcement embedded in a phenolic or isophthalic resin, may lose their load-bearing capabilities or fail after exposure to hydrocarbon pool fires.

The tests show that the fire duration required for this failure or weakening is substantially shorter than for cellulosic fires against which the composite materials were certified.

These tests also identified the possibility that the grating may appear to have retained its integrity post-fire, but may actually have insufficient strength to support the dynamic loading arising from persons walking/running over it.

Duty Holders must identify whether composites are used in areas where they may be exposed to hydrocarbon fires. If so, Duty Holders must establish means of ensuring, in consultation with manufactures or suppliers, that sufficient integrity will remain for their safe use.

Relevant legal documents:

+  The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, Sections 2 and 4;

+  The Offshore Installations and Wells (Design and Construction etc.) Regulations, 1996, Regulation 5; and

+  Offshore Installations (Prevention of Fire and Explosion, and Emergency Response) Regulations, 1995, Regulation 5.

Please pass this information to a colleague who may have this Product/Equipment or operate this type of system/process.

New Australian Regulations for Working at Height

Graham Marshall - Friday, October 05, 2012

For quite some time, in most States of Australia, there has been a height limit defined at two metres for falls from height. 

But the UK Health and Safety Executive (UK HSE) was able to demonstrate as long ago as 2005 that 87 per cent of all serious injuries resulting from falls were the result of "low falls" below the two metre definition for working at height.

Under Australia's new model Workplace Health and Safety legislation, the two-metre height threshold has now been scrapped.

So, where work has to be carried out at any height above ground level, the duty holder needs to take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury.

At the Risk Tool Box, we support this "risk-based" approach to managing working at height and to ensuring appropriate controls are in place, whatever the height off the ground.

To assist in identifying the appropriate controls for working at height, click here to find an appropriate Job Safety Analysis.

UK HSE Fee for Intervention (FFI)

Graham Marshall - Monday, October 01, 2012

The United Kingdom's Health and Safety Executive's (UK HSE) new cost recovery scheme, Fee for Intervention (FFI), came into force today, Monday, 1st October 2012.

Under The Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012, those who break UK health and safety laws are liable for recovery of HSE's related costs, including, inspection, investigation and taking enforcement action.

The many businesses that comply with their legal obligations will continue to pay nothing.

Detailed guidance for businesses and organizations is available on HSE's website.

Developed in consultation with representatives from industry, it explains how the scheme works and includes examples of how it will be applied.

Geoffrey Podger, HSE's Chief Executive, said: "The most basic safety mistakes in the workplace can devastate lives and result in real costs to industry.

It is right that those who fail to meet their legal obligations should pay HSE's costs rather than the public purse having to do so."

Fee for Intervention provides a further incentive for UK-based businesses to manage OHS risks effectively and to operate within the law.

It should also help level the playing field between those who comply and those who don't.

Employers can find practical advice, tools and case studies for controlling common risks and ensuring compliance with health and safety law on HSE's website

Use of Angle Grinders on Propane Tanks

Graham Marshall - Friday, July 06, 2012

A worthy nomination for a Darwin Award here when a workman in the UK was seriously injured whilst removing the top of a full propane gas tank with an angle-grinder!  We're not sure why anyone would actually want to do this?

In a prosecution by the UK Health and Safety Executive (UK HSE), Southampton magistrates heard that the 29-year-old worker suffered serious burns to his arm and body after propane caught fire.  Now there is a surprise!

The employee was lucky not to have been killed.  Yes, indeed.

Jamie Jewell, a Company Director of a company known as Suffix Pre-Cast, who was "supervising" the workman admitted breaching the UKs Health and Safety at Work Act.  He was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,451.

The UK HSE prosecution alleged that Jewell did not know enough about the hazards of handling propane gas to carry out the work competently or supervise others.

The incident, which involved a full tank of propane gas, occurred at Jewell’s Calmore home on September 2nd  2011.

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