Monthly Archives: May 2011

Health and safety legislation

Further to Lord Young’s report on reducing the burdens of health and safety legislation, consultation on amending the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR) has taken place.

Comments are presently being evaluated on a proposal to change the period of incapacitation after which an injury to a person at work must be reported to the enforcing authority. The current over three-day period is expected to rise to over seven days.

The logic behind this proposal can be seen at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/consult/condocs/cd233.htm and a decision is expected later in the year.

New first-aid leaflet

The Health and Safety Executive have issued a new version of first-aid leaflet “Basic advice on first-aid at work”. It can be bought in packs of 20 for £3.50 from HSE Books (tel: 01787 881165) or downloaded from http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg347.pdf

Motor vehicle repair

Guidance booklet HSG 261 “Health and safety in motor vehicle repair and associated industries” has had a revision to the advice relating to vehicle lifts and the requirements for periodic thorough examination. Where anyone is raised within a vehicle, or works below a vehicle that is raised, six-monthly is the appropriate examination frequency to comply with the Lifting Opertions and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.

Guidance on exercises to ease musculoskeletal discomfort

Research Report RR743, “Exercises to reduce musculoskeletal discomfort for people doing a range of static and repetitive work” has been published by the Health and Safety Executive and can be downloaded from: http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrpdf/rr743.pdf

The report concludes that “a selection of exercises have been identified that may reduce musculoskeletal discomfort that can be experienced by people who carry out a range of static and repetitive tasks at work”. It goes on to point out that whilst much of the evidence considered related to display screen equipment work, the principles will apply to other tasks involving intensive upper limb activity. The advice states that the exercises identified are likely to benefit people carrying out any repetitive or static upper limb related tasks, and can be performed during breaks throughout the working day, at the workplace, and only require a few seconds to perform. The final suggestion is that a leaflet could be put together containing clear and easy to follow advice on all the recommended exercises.

Gas safety ACOP revised

A new edition of “Safety in the installation and use of gas systems and appliances Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, Approved Code of Practice and guidance” has been published and is available from HSE Books at £10.95 (tel: 01787 881165) or as a free download at http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/l56.pdf

The principal amendment is to reflect the change from CORGI registration to Gas Safe, which took effect in 2009. There are also updated cross-references to other standards and publications.

First corporate manslaughter case

Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings has become the first company to be convicted of the new offence of corporate manslaughter. A fine of £385,000 was ordered after 27-year-old geologist Alex Wright died on 5 September 2008. He had been investigating soil conditions in a deep trench on a development plot in Stroud when it collapsed and killed him.

The case was relatively easy to prosecute as the company had a sole director who was on site at the time of the incident. The fine is below sentencing guidelines that indicate a starting point of £500,000, but the Judge took into account the company’s parlous financial state and agreed that they could pay the money over 10 years at a rate of £38,500 per annum. To have required immediate payment would have resulted in the company going out of business and the four staff would lose their jobs.

Garage owner in court for pressure system contravention

City of London magistrates punished the director of Scuff Plus Limited, a garage in Edgware, after he ignored a requirement to have his compressor examined. In 2009 Richard Grant was unable to produce evidence of an examination, in line with a Written Scheme of Examination, when an inspector visited and an Improvement Notice was served later that year.

In 2010 Grant undertook not to use the pressure vessel until it had been examined by a competent person but carried on using the equipment. The director pleaded guilty to breaching the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 and was given 12 months’ conditional discharge and ordered to pay costs of £500.

Fatal drink on college trip leads to heavy penalty

Lewes Crown Court fined East Sussex County Council after six people mistook dishwasher fluid for orange squash, leading to the death of a 60-year old man with Down’s Syndrome. The drink had been prepared in advance of a planned visit to sporting facilities at Plumpton Agricultural College by people from the council-run St Nicholas day centre in Lewes.

It could not be established who mixed the liquid but an investigation found that the dishwasher fluid was in a similar looking container as orange squash and had not been locked away. East Sussex County Council admitted breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and last month was fined £50,000 with costs of £27,670.

Food firm fined after lift truck hits worker

Surya Rice Limited left Colchester Magistrates Court £14,000 worse off, after admitting safety failings that resulted in an employee sustaining a broken leg after being struck by a fork lift truck.

The incident happened at Harwich Industrial Estate where Jan Kaminski, a packer in the rice packing area, was hit from behind by a truck carrying a full pallet of rice flour. The Health and Safety Executive investigation found that the movement of pallets was inherently unsafe due to the heavily congested work area that limited the driver’s vision. There were no adequately segregated pedestrian routes.

Blocked exits cost Poundland £20,000

Portsmouth magistrates have fined discount store Poundland in excess of £20,000 for disregarding fire safety rules. A fire service inspector had discovered that all three of the emergency exits from the premises were totally blocked from the outside by crates. The store had to be evacuated of staff and customers while the problem was resolved.

Poundland admitted contravening requirements to keep exits clear, and
also their failure to train a temporary manager in fire safety duties.