Load safety – national furniture company fined £1m for safety failings

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National furniture company fined £1m for safety failings

A national furniture company has been fined after safety failings which led to serious neck and head injuries of a worker.

Derby Magistrates’ Court heard that in July 2015 the worker was unloading wooden furniture frames at one of their upholstery sites, when he was struck by an unsecured furniture arm which fell from an unstable load.

The impact knocked him unconscious and he suffered serious neck and head injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the furniture company failed to adequately manage the risks of heavy loads being moved between manufacturing sites. The court heard the company also failed to supervise the work taking place with a number of near misses being reported from unsecured loads.

The furniture company pleaded guilty to breaching sections 3 of the Managing Health and Safety at Work Regulation and also section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and have been fined £1million and ordered to pay costs of £15,099.

Speaking after the case HSE inspector Lyn Spooner said: “[The furniture company] is a large national organisation. The fundamental and systemic failings identified in their health and safety management systems is far from what would be expected from a company of their size who has the ability to deliver higher standards of safety.

“Unfortunately [the furniture company] were unable to do that on this occasion and a preventable accident was allowed to occur.”

Load Safety

Unsafe loads on vehicles injure more than 1,200 people a year and cost UK businesses millions of pounds in damaged goods. Below, the HSE shows you how to secure loads safely on vehicles.

What can happen?

Unrestrained loads can increase the risk of vehicle rollover and load spillage, and risk the life of the driver and other road users.

People and load falls

An unsecured load shifts inside the trailer and is more difficult to unload. The load may have to be unloaded manually. Sending someone up onto the trailer bed to sort out a load that has shifted puts them at risk of falling off.

More information on people and load falls: http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/loadsafety/loads-people-fall.htm

Vehicles roll

Vehicles can roll over, In serious cases of load shift the vehicle can become unbalanced and overturn.

More information on vehicle roll: http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/loadsafety/vehicles-roll.htm

Product is damaged

All or part of the load may be damaged if it falls from the trailer. Product damage can be a significant cost to the business.

More information on damaged products: http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/loadsafety/product-damage.htm

Load shifts forward

If there is a gap between the load and the headboard, the load can shift forward under braking, risking the life of the driver and other road users.

More information on loads shifting forwards: http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/loadsafety/load-shifts-forward.htm

How to secure loads safely

Securing loads safely is good for business – product is delivered intact and on time.

To secure a load safely you need to make sure it is:

  • restrained – tied firmly down to the load bed; and
  • contained – it can’t move around (shift) inside the vehicle.

The only way to do this is with strong chains or webbing straps (lashings) attached directly to the vehicle.

If the load shifts in transit, contact the depot and agree a safe way to sort it out.

Planning your load

Planning how you secure the load is an important step to keeping workers safe.

Loading plans can help to flag up issues before they become problems.

Things to be considered will vary but could include:

  • Whether the driver will witness loading.
  • Who will apply the load restraints and what they should be.
  • How the load will be placed on the trailer bed.
  • Who will unload the vehicle and what equipment will be required.
  • Who the driver should report to on arrival.
  • What the driver should do if the load shifts during the journey.

Your employer should give you a loading plan – Full written details about every load you carry

The consignor – the person responsible for sending the load – is responsible for ensuring that the load is loaded so that it does not present a danger to others. It is important that the driver knows how the load has been secured, especially if he has not seen it loaded. This information should also be available to the delivery site.

Don’t just rely on word of mouth.

Planning

Time spent thinking about safe loading can help prevent all the problems of an unsafe load so make sure you:

  • Have the correct equipment on your premises to load vehicles safely.
  • Prepare a loading plan for each journey, to include information about:
  • how the load is to be secured; and
  • the location and layout of each delivery site, including unloading equipment and facilities.

Delivery plan should travel with the load

If you are a driver, you should keep this loading plan with you at all stages of the delivery. If there is anything you don’t understand in the loading plan, ask someone before you drive away.

How you can help make loading and unloading safer

  • Look at what other companies do – if you see a good idea, suggest it to your safety advisor or supervisor.
  • Report all ‘near miss’ incidents.
  • Ask your employer about training.

For more information, visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/loadsafety/index.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence

 

 

Pressure systems – company fined for safety failings resulting in workers death

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Company fined for safety failings resulting in workers death

A Midlands based construction equipment hire company has been fined £800,000 after a worker’s death.

Warwick Crown Court heard how the 49-year-old had only been working for the company for 16 days when the fatal incident happened. The court heard how he was testing a hydraulic cylinder when it cracked under pressure causing a piece of metal to strike him violently in the head.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had failed to have adequate supervision in place for this task and they failed to inform the worker of the safe working pressure for the cylinder he was testing.

The investigation also found that the company also failed to have protective screens in place to prevent projectiles injuring staff. They also did not exclude other people from the test area.

The company pleaded guilty of breaching regulation 12 (1) of the Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and regulation 3 (1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

The company also pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Speaking after the case HSE inspector Neil Ward said: “This was a tragic incident that should never have occurred.

“It is a company’s obligation to provide a safe system of work for leak testing. This will include protecting people from flying fragments and high pressure oil leaks as well as providing thorough training in how to carry out the work safely.”

Pressure systems

Pressure systems can range from steam-generating commercial coffee machines to large boilers. When using pressure systems every employer or self-employed person has a duty to provide a safe workplace and safe work equipment. Designers, manufacturers, suppliers, installers, users and owners have additional health and safety duties.

About pressure systems

The main regulations covering pressure equipment and pressure systems are the Pressure Equipment Regulations 1999 (PER) and the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 (PSSR).

Examples of pressure systems and equipment are:

  • boilers and steam heating systems
  • pressurised process plant and piping
  • compressed air systems (fixed and portable)
  • pressure cookers, autoclaves and retorts
  • heat exchangers and refrigeration plant
  • valves, steam traps and filters
  • pipework and hoses
  • pressure gauges and level indicators

Principal causes of pressure-related incidents are:

  • poor equipment and/or system design
  • poor installation
  • poor maintenance of equipment
  • inadequate repairs or modifications
  • an unsafe system of work
  • operator error, poor training/supervision

The main hazards from pressure are:

  • impact from the blast of an explosion or release of compressed liquid or gas
  • impact from parts of equipment that fail or any flying debris
  • contact with the released liquid or gas, such as steam
  • fire resulting from the escape of flammable liquids or gases

Are you a user of pressure systems?

A pressure system is one that contains or is likely to contain a relevant fluid over 0.5 bar.

The main legislation covering the duties of a user of pressure equipment is the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 (PSSR).

HSE has produced a number of freely downloadable publications that provide general advice on the duties of the user of pressure equipment. See leaflet INDG261 Pressure systems: A brief guide to safety (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg261.htm) for more detail but, in general terms, the user must:

  • Provide safe and suitable equipment

eg are the right materials being used in the manufacturing process and are modifications/repairs being carried out properly?

  • Know the operating conditions

including the characteristics of the relevant fluid in the system and the safe operating limits of the equipment.

  • Fit suitable protective devices and ensure they function properly

eg devices such as safety valves, bursting discs and electronic appliances, and ensure they are adjusted to their correct settings and in good working order at all times.

  • Carry out suitable maintenance

including a whole-system maintenance programme that considers factors such as age, uses and the environment in which it is operated.

  • Make provision for appropriate training

so that anybody who operates, installs, maintains, repairs, inspects or tests pressure equipment has the necessary skills and knowledge to carry out their job safely. Refresher training should be included.

  • Have the equipment examined

as required under PSSR, including production of a written scheme of examination (WSE), to be used by a competent person to carry out the examination – details in the PSSR Approved Code of Practice (L122).

  • Choose a competent person

ensuring they have the necessary knowledge, skills and, importantly, independence to undertake their role and responsibilities effectively.

For more information, visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pressure-systems/ or contact us on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence

 

 

Hand-arm vibration at work – Oxfordshire based company fined for safety failings

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Oxfordshire based company fined for safety failings

An Oxfordshire based, ground engineering company has been fined £6,000 plus costs after a worker contracted severe hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).

Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court heard how an employee, who was working at the company’s earth retaining division, was eventually diagnosed as suffering from HAVS after repeatedly flagging his symptoms to the company for over five years.

Symptoms of HAVS can include tingling, numbness and pain in the hands. This affects sleep when it occurs at night and sufferers have difficulties in gripping and holding things, particularly small items such as screws, doing up buttons, writing and driving.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company did not have the right system in place to manage the workers’ health as it did not have a suitable health surveillance programme in place to monitor for the early onset of HAVS and to prevent the irreversible condition from developing.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Mehtaab Hamid said: “This was a case of the company completely failing to grasp the importance of HAVS health surveillance.

“If they had understood why health surveillance was necessary, it would have ensured that it had the right systems in place to monitor worker’s health and the employee’s condition would not have been allowed to develop to a severe and life altering stage”.

Hand-arm vibration at work

Hand-arm vibration comes from the use of hand-held power tools and is the cause of significant ill health (painful and disabling disorders of the blood vessels, nerves and joints).

Advice for employers

The following information will help you understand:

  • What you may need to do as an employer under the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 which came into force in July 2005;
  • How you can protect your employees from hand-arm vibration.

This information will also be of interest to you if you are an employer whose business involves the use of hand-guided powered equipment and powered machines which process hand-held materials and of particular interest if your business involves the regular and frequent use of hand-held power tools.

You may also find this information helpful if you are:

  • An employee, or self-employed person, who uses vibrating equipment;
  • A trade union safety representative or an employee representative;
  • An adviser on occupational vibration risks.

If your workers use vibrating equipment you may also have to consider risks from exposure to noise.

Remember:

By law, as an employer, you must assess and identify measures to eliminate or reduce risks from exposure to hand-arm vibration so that you can protect your employees from risks to their health.

Where the risks are low, the actions you take may be simple and inexpensive, but where the risks are high, you should manage them using a prioritised action plan to control exposure to hand-arm vibration.

Where required, ensure that:

  • Control measures to reduce vibration are properly applied; and
  • You provide information, training and health surveillance.

Review what you are doing if anything changes that may affect exposures to vibration where you work.

The Health effects of hand-arm vibration at work

What is hand-arm vibration?

Hand-arm vibration is vibration transmitted from work processes into workers’ hands and arms. It can be caused by operating hand-held power tools, such as road breakers, and hand-guided equipment, such as powered lawnmowers, or by holding materials being processed by machines, such as pedestal grinders.

When is it hazardous?

Regular and frequent exposure to hand-arm vibration can lead to permanent health effects. This is most likely when contact with a vibrating tool or work process is a regular part of a person’s job. Occasional exposure is unlikely to cause ill health.

What health effects can it cause?

Hand-arm vibration can cause a range of conditions collectively known as hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), as well as specific diseases such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

What are the early symptoms?

Identifying signs and symptoms at an early stage is important. It will allow you, as the employer, to take action to prevent the health effects from becoming serious for your employee. The symptoms include any combination of:

  • Tingling and numbness in the fingers;
  • Not being able to feel things properly;
  • Loss of strength in the hands;
  • Fingers going white (blanching) and becoming red and painful on recovery (particularly in the cold and wet, and probably only in the tips at first).

For some people, symptoms may appear after only a few months of exposure, but for others they may take a few years. They are likely to get worse with continued exposure to vibration and may become permanent.

What effects do these symptoms have?

The effects on people include:

  • Pain, distress and sleep disturbance;
  • Inability to do fine work (eg assembling small components) or everyday tasks (eg fastening buttons);
  • Reduced ability to work in cold or damp conditions (ie most outdoor work) which would trigger painful finger blanching attacks;
  • Reduced grip strength, which might affect the ability to do work safely.

These effects can severely limit the jobs an affected person is able to do, as well as many family and social activities.

Do you have a hand-arm vibration problem at work?

This will depend on whether your employees regularly and frequently work with vibrating tools and equipment and/or handle vibrating materials. It will also depend on how long your employees are exposed to vibration and at what level. As a simple guide you will probably need to do something about vibration exposures if any of the following apply:

  • Do your employees complain of tingling and numbness in their hands or fingers after using vibrating tools?
  • Do your employees hold work pieces, which vibrate while being processed by powered machinery such as pedestal grinders?
  • Do your employees regularly use hand-held or hand guided power tools and machines such as concrete breakers, concrete pokers, sanders, grinders, disc cutters, hammer drills, chipping hammers, chainsaws, brush cutters, hedge trimmers, powered mowers, scabblers or needle guns?
  • Do your employees regularly operate hammer action tools for more than about 15 minutes per day or some rotary and other action tools for more than about one hour per day?
  • Do you work in an industry where exposures to vibration are particularly high, such as construction, foundries, or heavy steel fabrication/shipyards?

Which jobs and industries are most likely to involve hand-arm vibration?

Jobs requiring regular and frequent use of vibrating tools and equipment and handling of vibrating materials are found in a wide range of industries, for example:

  • Building and maintenance of roads and railways;
  • Construction;
  • Estate management (eg maintenance of grounds, parks, water courses, road and rail side verges);
  • Forestry;
  • Foundries;
  • Heavy engineering;
  • Manufacturing concrete products;
  • Mines and quarries;
  • Motor vehicle manufacture and repair;
  • Public utilities (eg water, gas, electricity, telecommunications);
  • Shipbuilding and repair.

What kinds of tools and equipment can cause ill health from vibration?

There are hundreds of different types of hand-held power tools and equipment which can cause ill health from vibration. Some of the more common ones are:

  • Chainsaws;
  • Concrete breakers/road breakers;
  • Cut-off saws (for stone etc);
  • Hammer drills;
  • Hand-held grinders;
  • Impact wrenches;
  • Jigsaws;
  • Needle scalers;
  • Pedestal grinders;
  • Polishers;
  • Power hammers and chisels;
  • Powered lawn mowers;
  • Powered sanders;
  • Scabblers;
  • Strimmers/brush cutters.

Do you engage in routine continual monitoring or logging of workers’ vibration exposure?

Vibration exposure monitoring Q&A: http://www.hse.gov.uk/vibration/hav/advicetoemployers/vibration-exposure-monitoring-qa.pdf

Worried about your hands?

Advice for workers: http://www.hse.gov.uk/vibration/hav/yourhands.htm

For more information visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/vibration/hav/ or contact us on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence

 

 

Safe maintenance – packaging manufacturer in court over workplace injury

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Packaging manufacturer in court over workplace injury

A supplier of corrugated packaging has been fined £400,000 after a maintenance employee was injured when he was pulled into machinery.

The injured person was repairing a cardboard printing, slotting and forming machine at the packaging plant when he put his foot onto an exposed conveyor and was dragged into the machine’s moving parts.

Wolverhampton Crown Court heard that the packaging company allowed uncontrolled maintenance work to take place without any assessment of the risks posed by maintenance activities or having procedures in place for safe maintenance.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the machinery had a ‘jog mode’ which could have been set up to enable such maintenance work to be carried out safely, but the company had not identified this, trained staff to use it or enforced its use.

Speaking after the case, HSE Inspector Caroline Lane said: “The company relied on the experience of maintenance employees rather than controlling risks through careful assessment and putting safe systems of work in place.

In summing up, his Honour Judge Berlin considered the maintenance practices used by [the packaging company] to be ‘utterly dangerous’ and the risk to workers was wholly avoidable”.

Safe maintenance

Hazards during maintenance

What is maintenance?

In this context, maintenance simply means keeping the workplace, its structures, equipment, machines, furniture and facilities operating safely, while also making sure that their condition does not decline. Regular maintenance can also prevent their sudden and unexpected failure.

There are two main types of maintenance:

  • preventive or proactive maintenance – periodic checks and repairs; and
  • corrective or reactive maintenance – carrying out unforeseen repairs on workplace facilities or equipment after sudden breakage or failure. This is usually more hazardous than scheduled maintenance.

Why is it an issue?

Maintenance-related accidents are a serious cause of concern. For example, analysis of data from recent years indicates that 25-30% of manufacturing industry fatalities in Great Britain were related to maintenance activity.

Undertaking maintenance activities can potentially expose the workers involved (and others) to all sorts of hazards, but there are four issues that merit particular attention because of the severity of the harm that could be involved, and because they are commonly encountered during plant and building maintenance.

The health consequences of disturbing asbestos when drilling holes into the building fabric or replacing panels can be severe, as can the clean up costs involved.

Maintenance work often involves using access equipment to reach roofs, gutters, building services, and raised sections of plant and machinery. It can be all too easy to fall from these positions, or to drop things onto people beneath.

Isolation and lock off arrangements, and in some cases permits to work, are essential to enable maintenance work to be conducted safely.

Heavy items sometimes have to be moved, or get disturbed, during maintenance work. If one of these falls, the results can be fatal. There may well be cranes, fork lift trucks or props available for use, but maintenance tasks can sometimes involve one-off situations and the handling of heavy loads isn’t always properly planned.

You may do some or most of your plant and building maintenance in-house, but there will always be tasks that are too big or specialised and require contractors. To enable both in-house and contracted staff to work in safety you will need to properly brief them on your site and processes, and you will need them to follow safe working practices.

For more information, visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/safemaintenance/index.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence