The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Safety Shocker of the Week

Graham Marshall - Friday, February 01, 2013

For employers in the UK, Regulation 4 (1) of the Work at Height Regulations (2005) states that every employer shall ensure that work at height is properly planned, appropriately supervised and carried out in a manner which is reasonably and practicably safe.

So it is not really surprising that Fastrac Profiles Limited, of Neptune Industrial Estate, Willenhall, near Wolverhampton, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £3,761 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work of Height Regulations for allowing work to continue in the manner shown below.


The shop fitting company was fined for the safety failings after instructing two employees to work at height without any protective measures or relevant roofwork training.

The men, who do not wish to be named, were spotted and photographed by a member of the public.

And a complaint was made to the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

HSE then visited the site and found the workers were not trained for the roof repairs they were undertaking.

Stafford Magistrates' Court heard that they had been instructed to weld steel to uprights at the apex of a roof.

The work was poorly planned and no risk assessment had been carried out. HSE inspectors also found that no fall-prevention measures, such as scaffolding, had been put in place.

Although the failings did not result in a fall or injury, the two employees, plus others working below them, were placed in unnecessary danger.

We all know that falls cause a large number of of fatalities. And the risk involved with work at height is entirely foreseeable.

It is, therefore, essential that proper planning, risk assessment and training is undertaken to reduce these risks.

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."


Scaffolding Safety Alert - Offshore Fall From Height

Graham Marshall - Sunday, January 13, 2013

Enclosed here is a safety alert from NOPSEMA about an incident in which a scafffolder fell from height when dismantling a scaffold on an offshore facility in Australian waters.

Fortunately, the scaffolder was wearing a safety harness and inertia-reel device which prevented him hitting the sea below.

The alert does highlight some failures and key learning, including:

It is considered good practice to install check couplers above the suspension scaffolding coupler as described in AS/NZS 4576 Guidelines for scaffolding;

1.  The scaffold should be visually inspected by the work party prior to using the scaffold;

2.  Scaffolds should be inspected regularly by a competent person;

3.  Only equipment within its certification period should be used;

4.  Safety equipment should be suitably rated for the personnel using it;

5.  Fall arrest equipment should be anchored at a suitably rated anchor point; and

6.  The rescue plan should reflect the hazards the job presents rather than using a generic rescue plan for all scaffold jobs.

Safety Alert for Completions Rig Work At Height

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, December 05, 2012

This safety alert from APPEA in Australia highlights how a Floorman went to the derrick monkey board to put a stand of drill pipe in the elevators.

He attached the hold back line but failed to transfer from the crown fall arrestor to the monkey board fall arrestor.

During the operation the blocks were lowered, snagging the secondary line.

This resulted in the Floorman being pulled forward onto his knees parting his lanyard.

Thankfully, no injuries sustained during the incident.

The investigation illustrated that the relevant procedure was not reviewed before task was performed.

The key learnings were identified as being the need to review procedure for the task prior to starting and to ensure procedures are up to date and include installing safety devices.

Falls from height on Ships

Graham Marshall - Thursday, November 29, 2012

Enclosed today is another excellent safety alert from the folks at the Marine Safety Forum.

To access the safety alert, simply click here.

Model Regulations for Work at Height

Graham Marshall - Saturday, October 20, 2012

Under new legislation to be introduced in Australia under the National Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) framework, a new prioritized process of risk management control shall be required from any person conducting a business or undertaking ("the duty holder"), when it is identified that there is a fall potential amongst workers undertaking an activity.

At the outset, the duty holder needs to determine if the work activity can be conducted at ground level or on a solid construction.  A solid construction means an area that has a structurally supportive surface with barriers at the edges and around any openings.  It must also have an even and readily-negotiable surface and gradient, as well as a safe means of entry and egress.

If it is not reasonably practicable to complete the work on the ground or from a solid construction, the duty holder must minimize the risk of falling by providing and maintaining a safe system of work that includes a fall protection device.

Depending on individual circumstances, a safe system of work may include the use of a temporary work platform, training, safe work procedures, safe sequencing of work, safe use of ladders, a permit system, signage, barriers or barricades, JHA and the use of a fall arrest system.

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.

Falls from height in shops

Graham Marshall - Saturday, August 18, 2012

The risk associated with running shops is usually considered to be relatively low, but two recent incidents and Court cases highlight the need to manage risk in all workplaces.

In the first example, a company trading as Personal Buying Service Pty Ltd, the owners of a shop in Mandurah (WA) have been fined $90,000 over the death of a female Store Manager

The woman died when she fell almost 3 metres through the ceiling of the Betta Electrical and Gas store in Mandurah.

According to the prosecution brought against the shop owners, the Store Manager climbed onto a shelf to pass down boxes to another member of staff.

She fell and died from her injuries.

Personal Buying Service Pty Ltd, which was trading as Betta Electrical & Gas, pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment at Mandurah Magistrates Court.

In a similar incident in NSW, a worker fell through a suspended plasterboard ceiling and was seriously injured at a Coles Supermarket in Manly.

Coles was recently fined $170,000 following a prosecution over the fall,as the company had not undertaken a risk-assessment, yet knew it was dangerous to use the roof-space for storage.

Both examples highlight the need for shop owners to conduct risk  assessments and plan for tasks which raise the risk of harm occurring.

Modular Handrail Systems - Live Demonstration

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Modular handrail systems that help to ensure the safety of people working up-high have been pioneered in Australia by Kazed Industrial Solutions.

Kazed is now holding a series of product demonstration sessions which could be useful for Mechanical Designers, Detailers, Maintenance Engineers, Project Managers, and/or Financial Controllers to attend.

According to the good folks at Kazed, persons attending the demonstrations will learn how modular handrail and safety barrier systems can save time and money, and increase the safety of workers on major infrastructure projects.

The demonstration is free, however bookings are essential as places are limited.

When: Tuesday 21st August 2012

Where: Forrest Centre Level 29, 221 St Georges Terrace, Perth, Western Australia

Session 1: 9AM—10AM

Session 2: 10.30AM—11.30AM

Session 3: 12PM—1PM

Session 4: 1.30PM—2.30PM

Session 5 3PM-4PM

RSVP: Friday 17th August 2012

Phone: Peter Angelico on 1 800 236 337 or Mobile: 0400 199 126

Cal OSHA investigates Oil Tank Fatality

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The dangers associated with performing hot work on oil storage tanks have been re-highlighted by a fatal accident in California.

Cal OSHA is investigating the explosion which occurred when two workers were decommissioning a crude oil tank.

The explosion killed one man, critically injured another and leaves questions unanswered about what safety procedures the men used as they worked on the tank.

The men were using a cutting torch on top of the tank when vapors inside ignited, blowing the 16,800-gallon container some 30 feet in the air and a distance of 79 feet.

The Kern County Fire fire department reported that Cesar Martinez, 24, was blown 40 feet into the air and more than 900 feet distant.

The other worker, identified by their employer Sky-Brand Services as 33-year-old Eric Robles, was also injured.

Both workers believed the tank was empty.

Cal-OSHA investigators determined the two men were assigned to demolish the tank and that Martinez was removing pipe that was to be recycled as scrap metal.

Agency spokesman Peter Melton said “he was using a cutting torch on an enclosed pipe, and apparently gas might have escaped and it ignited". It was unclear who owned the tank and when it was decommissioned, he added.

Sky-Brand partner Dale Hill said Martinez and Robles were removing steel pipeline from the exterior of the tank.

He said the company has done similar work on numerous oil tanks and hasn’t had problems.

“We do everything we can to make sure every precaution is being taken,” Hill said.

In the oil industry, however, the common practice is to keep all flames at least 50 feet away from an oil tank, unless it has been thoroughly cleaned and purged, vented, tested for residual gas and isolated from other "live" processes.

“Fire and gas, they don’t make a good combination,” he said.

Sky-Brand specializes in site cleanup and demolition work, removing scrap metal and selling it, Hill said.

Cal-OSHA’s Melton said the agency’s investigation could take up to six months, during which time it hopes to find out exactly what the two men were doing, what safety precautions were taken, what regulations apply to demolishing such equipment and whether the right tools were being used.

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