Granite worktop company fined £30,000 after failing to carry out safety checks

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A granite worktop manufacturer has been fined after failing to ensure that lifting equipment was examined and maintained to ensure it was safe to use.

The Court heard how the manufacturer was not having regular statutory examinations carried out on lifting equipment and also failed to carry out repairs when defects had been found.

Following an inspection in June 2018 by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) at the site, it was discovered that the examinations were not carried out at the required six monthly intervals and when they were carried out the same faults were reported, as the company were not taking action to effect the repairs.

The manufacturer has pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5 (1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and Regulation 9 (3) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. The company has been fined £30,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4906.

Speaking after the case the HSE inspector said “This prosecution could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices. Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those who fall below the required standards”.

Thorough examinations and inspections of lifting equipment

Safe and successful lifting operations depend, in large part, on the continued safety of the lifting equipment and accessories that are used. Failures in this kind of equipment can result in significant or even fatal injuries. Health and safety law therefore places a number of specific obligations on those providing, controlling and using lifting equipment to properly manage these risks.

In addition to the requirements for safe design and construction, all lifting equipment should also be checked and maintained as necessary to keep it safe for use, so:

  • users may need to undertake simple pre-use checks (eg on lifting chains and slings), or make checks on a daily basis (eg for lift trucks)
  • in some cases, inspections and checks should be made on a regular basis, often weekly, but this may be on a monthly or quarterly basis (eg the checks undertaken by an operator on their crane)
  • employers should ensure that lifting equipment is thoroughly examined (normally once or twice a year but, in some cases, this may be more or less frequent)

These checks are necessary to verify that the lifting equipment can continue to be safely used. This page concentrates on thorough examination and inspection, and the reporting and record-keeping obligations of LOLER (regulations 9, 10 and 11).

What is a ‘thorough examination’ under LOLER?

This is a systematic and detailed examination of the equipment and safety-critical parts, carried out at specified intervals by a competent person who must then complete a written report. This report must contain the information required by LOLER Schedule 1 , including:

  • the examination date
  • the date when the next thorough examination is due
  • any defects found which are (or could potentially become) a danger to people

Where serious defects are identified, the competent person carrying out the examination must immediately report this verbally to the dutyholder. This should then be followed by the written report, a copy of which must also be sent to the relevant enforcing authority.

What is a ‘competent person’?

The term ‘competent person’ is not defined in law but the LOLER Approved Code of Practice and guidance (paragraph 294 on competent persons) states that:
‘You should ensure that the person carrying out a thorough examination has such appropriate practical and theoretical knowledge and experience of the lifting equipment to be thoroughly examined as will enable them to detect defects or weaknesses and to assess their importance in relation to the safety and continued use of the lifting equipment.’

Although the competent person may often be employed by another organisation, this is not necessary, provided they are sufficiently independent and impartial to ensure that in-house examinations are made without fear or favour. However, this should not be the same person who undertakes routine maintenance of the equipment – as they would then be responsible for assessing their own maintenance work.

When should thorough examinations be carried out?

In order to verify that lifting equipment and accessories remain safe for use, and to detect and remedy any deterioration in good time, thorough examinations are required throughout the lifetime of the equipment, including examinations:

  • before use for the first time – unless the equipment has an EC Declaration of Conformity less than one year old and the equipment was not assembled on site. If it was assembled on site, it must be examined by a competent person to ensure that the assembly (eg a platform lift installed in a building) was completed correctly and safely
  • after assembly and before use at each location – for equipment that requires assembly or installation before use, eg tower cranes
  • regularly, while in service – if the equipment is exposed to conditions that cause deterioration which is likely to result in dangerous situations. Most lifting equipment will be subject to wear and tear and so will need regular in-service examination. Some may be exposed to significant environmental conditions which may cause further deterioration. You have a choice:
    • arrange for thorough examination to be carried out at the intervals specified by LOLER (every 6 or 12 months, depending on the equipment – see below), or
    • conduct examinations in accordance with an examination scheme, drawn up by a competent person
  • following exceptional circumstances – liable to jeopardise the safety of lifting equipment, which may include:
    • damage or failure
    • being out of use for long periods
    • major changes, which are likely to affect the equipment’s integrity (eg modifications, or replacement / repair of critical parts)

What are the specified intervals for regular thorough examinations?

Unless there is an ‘examination scheme’ specifying other intervals, thorough examinations should be conducted every:

  • 6 months, for lifting equipment and any associated accessories used to lift people
  • 6 months, for all lifting accessories
  • 12 months, for all other lifting equipment

What is covered by a thorough examination?

This depends on the professional judgement of the competent person undertaking the examination, but needs to include all matters which affect the safety of the lifting equipment, including likely deterioration with time.

For most common lifting equipment and accessories, there are industry standard procedures and criteria which a competent person would follow when undertaking thorough examinations and making judgements as to the continued safety of the equipment. Methods used include:

  • visual examination and functional checks
  • measurements of wear
  • (in some cases) traditional NDT (non-destructive testing) and load testing

Some disassembly or internal examination of parts may also be required.

Where an examination scheme has been drawn up, this should identify and specify:

  • the parts to be thoroughly examined
  • the methods of examination and testing
  • the intervals for examination (and testing of the different parts, where appropriate)

The scheme should also include details of any other inspection regimes for the equipment. Examination schemes may be drawn up by any person with the necessary competence. This does not need to be the same competent person who conducts the thorough examination in accordance with the scheme.

Although examination schemes do not need to be preserved in the form of a document, it should be possible to produce a written copy when required (eg on request by the relevant enforcing authority). These should be secured from loss or unauthorised modification.

Testing of lifting equipment

Most lifting equipment does not need routine testing as part of the thorough examination – in fact some overload tests can cause damage to lifting equipment. Where testing is deemed necessary, it may not need be undertaken at every thorough examination. The need for, and nature of, testing should be based on an assessment of risk – taking account of information from the manufacturer and other relevant information – as determined by the competent person.

Maintenance and inspection of lifting equipment.

Maintenance of lifting equipment to ensure it remains safe for use is a requirement of PUWER. In some cases – to assist with this, and detect any deterioration so it can be remedied in good time – lifting equipment may need to be inspected between thorough examinations. Such inspections need to be undertaken by suitably trained and competent people, which can often be the lifting equipment operator or maintenance personnel.

The nature, need for and frequency of such inspections should be determined through risk assessment, taking full account of any manufacturer’s recommendations. Further recommendations on inspection relating to cranes are given in BS 7121 British Standard Code of Practice for the Safe Use of Cranes. The various parts of this standard can be obtained from BSI .

Lifting accessories do not normally need formal inspection, provided that proper pre-use checks are made and they undergo their standard thorough examination.

Reports and defects

Records should be kept of all thorough examinations and inspections, and of the EC Declarations of Conformity for all lifting equipment and lifting accessories. Examination and inspection records do not need to be kept in hard copy form but you should be able to provide a written copy when necessary (eg upon request by the relevant enforcing authority or when lifting equipment leaves your undertaking -under hire, use elsewhere, or second-hand sale). The records should also be protected from unauthorised alteration. Details of the periods for which they must be kept are given in Table 3 of Thorough examination of lifting equipment .

The contents required in a thorough examination report are specified by Schedule 1 of LOLER . There is no longer a defined format or form for such a report, provided that all 11 items listed in the Schedule are included.

Where, following thorough examination or inspection of lifting equipment, a defect is identified – which in the opinion of the person undertaking the examination or inspection – is (or could become) a danger to people, you as user (employer or self employed person) should be notified immediately. You must then take effective action to manage risk by ensuring the lifting equipment is not used until the defect is remedied. Such defects must be confirmed in writing in the report, even if it is remedied immediately (eg by destruction of a sling). The person making the report must also notify the relevant enforcing authority with a copy of the report. Enforcing authorities may follow up such reports to check that risks are being adequately managed.

In some cases, a defect may be identified which does not require the immediate cessation of use of the lifting equipment. In these cases, you must remedy the matter, or not further use the equipment, within the time period specified on the report.

Reports of thorough examinations sometimes contain additional non-statutory observations from the competent person on the condition of the lifting equipment. Analysis of this may provide useful information to manage your lifting equipment.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 25TH FEBRUARY 2016

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IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

Young people at work – sixteen year old worker falls through skylight

Powered gates FAQs – firm fined after man struck by gate

Safe use of forklift trucks – scrap metal firm in court over worker’s severe forklift injuries

Introduction

Figures published last October by the Department for Education revealed that thousands more young people are working or learning after the age of 16. Many young people are likely to be new to the workplace and in some cases facing unfamiliar risks, from the job they are doing and from their surroundings. They need to be provided with clear and sufficient instruction, training and supervision to enable them to work without putting themselves and other people at risk. We open this week’s update with HSE guidance on employing under 18’s, following news of a roofing company being fined after a young worker fell through a skylight.

Also last October, we shared HSE guidance on powered door and gate safety (click on the link: http://www.eljay.co.uk/news/health-safety-news-update-8th-october-2015/) ahead of Gate Safety Week which, in the words of Powered Gate Group Chairman Neil Sampson, “is all about raising public awareness of the dangers of using a poorly installed or maintained powered gate, in the hope that we can prevent any further deaths or injuries”. (The risks associated with powered gates have been well documented by the HSE. The following safety notice was issued after two incidents that both led to the deaths of young children: http://www.hse.gov.uk/safetybulletins/electricgates2.htm) Only last week, news was released by the HSE, of company that produces and installs gate systems being fined after the leaf of a gate fell and struck a man, so this week we’re sharing HSE responses to some FAQs on the topic.

And finally, we share HSE guidance on the safe use of forklift trucks following news of a scrap metal firm being in court over a worker’s severe forklift injuries.

We hope you find our news updates useful. If you know of anyone who may benefit from reading them, please encourage them to register at the bottom-left of our news page (http://www.eljay.co.uk/news/) and we’ll email them a link each time an update is published. If in the unlikely event any difficulties are experienced whilst registering we’ll be more than happy to help and can be contacted on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk

Young people at work – sixteen year old worker falls through skylight

A Stoke-on-Trent roofing company has been fined £14,000 plus £6,919 costs, after an employee suffered serious injury when he fell through a roof skylight at an address in Newcastle under Lyme.

Newcastle under Lyme Magistrates’ Court heard how the young worker accessed an unprotected roof and fell through the skylight. He was working during the summer vacation in July 2014 when the incident occurred. He suffered three cracked vertebrae.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident found that there was poor supervision and training.

Young people at work

When employing a young person under the age of 18, whether for work, work experience, or as an apprentice, employers have the same responsibilities for their health, safety and welfare as they do for other employees.

Guidance on the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/youngpeople/ will help young people and those employing them understand their responsibilities.

Work experience

Introducing young people to the world of work can help them understand the work environment, choose future careers or prepare for employment. We need young people to be offered opportunities to develop new skills and gain experience across the world of work. Click on the following links for more guidance:

Young people FAQs (visit HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/youngpeople/faqs.htm for answers):

  • Does an employer have to carry out a separate risk assessment for a young person?
  • What if a young person doesn’t feel confident about raising a health and safety concern with their employer?
  • Does an employer need to have Employers’ Liability Compulsory Insurance (ELCI) in place before they employ a young person?
  • How does an employer avoid putting a young person at risk due to their physical limitations?
  • How do I assess a young person’s psychological capability?
  • What constitutes harmful exposure?
  • Can a young person be employed to work with ionising radiation?
  • How do I take account of a young person’s lack of maturity, lack of risk awareness, insufficient attention to safety and their lack of experience or training?
  • Are young people at more risk of exposure to extreme temperature, noise or vibration?
  • I understand there has been a change to the official statutory school leaving age, rising to age 17 in 2013, with a further rise to 18 from 2015. Is this correct and does this mean that the definition of a child has changed?

Common young people myths

“Under 18s cannot be employed on construction sites for work or work experience”

There is no reason why a young person under 18 could not be employed on a building site for work or work experience, provided the work was properly assessed and suitable controls put in place. Although there may be times when it would not be appropriate for an under 18 to be employed, these will be very much the exception rather than the rule.

“Schools and colleges, or those organising work experience placements on their behalf, such as Education Business Partnerships, have to carry out workplace checks before sending students on work experience placements and staff carrying out these checks must meet prescribed levels of occupational competence or qualification”

There are no health and safety regulations that require schools, colleges, or those organising placements on their behalf, to carry out workplace assessments for work experience placements. There is also no requirement for any prescribed level of occupational competence or qualification for education personnel, or others organising these placements.

However, schools, colleges and others organising placements do need to satisfy themselves that an employer has risk management arrangements for placements, including for higher risk environments. Find out what you need to do and how to keep it simple by visiting the following HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/youngpeople/workexperience/organiser.htm.

“A separate risk assessment is required for work experience students”

A separate risk assessment is not required specifically for work experience students, as long as your existing assessment already considers the specific factors for young people. Furthermore, there is no requirement to re-assess the risks each time an employer takes on a new work experience student, provided the new student has no particular needs.

“Schools, colleges and those organising work experience placements on their behalf, such as Education Business Partnerships, must visit all workplaces in advance of a student starting a work experience placement”

It is not for schools, colleges or those organising work experience placements on their behalf, to assess work places. The employer who is taking on the student for work experience has the primary responsibility for their health and safety. However, schools, colleges and others organising placements do need to take reasonable steps to satisfy themselves that an employer is managing any significant risks. For many low risk premises a visit will not be necessary, there is no reason why this couldn’t be done over the phone, with placement organisers simply making a note of the discussion. A conversation with an employer could include finding out what the student will be doing, what the risks are and how they are managed.

It is about keeping checks in proportion to the environment and in many cases it is likely that a school, college, or other placement organiser will be familiar with employers they use regularly and will be aware of their track record. They may also know of other schools, colleges and placement organisers who have placed students with the same employers and can share information with them. Find out what you need to do and how to keep it simple by visiting the following HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/youngpeople/workexperience/organiser.htm.

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

Powered gates FAQs – firm fined after man struck by gate

A company that produces and installs gate systems has been fined £20,000 plus £5,000 costs after the leaf of a gate fell and struck a man.

Newport Magistrates’ Court heard how the company was contracted to manufacture and install a gate system at commercial premises in Caerphilly.

The gate consisted of two leaves; one of which was driven by a motor and connected to the second leaf by a chain and sprocket which provided the drive motion for the second leaf.

There was a failure of the gate mechanism and in September 2014 an employee at the premises went to manually close the gate. The leaf he was pulling came out of the runners and it collapsed on him. A vertical rail struck his leg and resulted in severe trauma to his leg with muscle and nerves torn away. He was hospitalised for ten days and off work for one year.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive into the incident found that the underlying failure of the gate mechanism was as a result of inadequate design, assessment and control measures to ensure the gate was safe for use.

HSE inspector Dean Baker said after the hearing: “Powered gates pose a risk to employees and members of the public. Those responsible for installing, maintaining and operating these gates need to make sure they are safe during installation and use. This accident could have been avoided if the clearly foreseeable risk of the gate falling had been identified and controlled.”

FAQs – Powered gates

What are the risks with powered (automatic) doors and gates, and how can they be controlled?

In recent years, a number of adults and children have been seriously injured or killed by this type of machinery (click on the link for more information: http://www.hse.gov.uk/safetybulletins/poweredgates.htm). The injuries were caused because people have been trapped or crushed by the moving door or gate. All powered doors and gates must be properly designed, installed and maintained to prevent possible injuries.

What if I think a gate is unsafe?

Unless you’ve been working on the gate, the ‘owner’ of the gate has to ensure that the gate is safe and without risks to others. The ‘owner’ here includes landlords or managing agents with responsibility for the gate. If the owner thinks the gate is unsafe, he should take steps to make it safe – for example, by engaging a competent person to install safety mechanisms or protective devices. Meanwhile, for safety, it should be switched off, or only used safely in a supervised way, eg under direct hold-to-run control.

If you’ve been working on the gate – eg installing, repairing, maintaining the gate – then you are responsible for ensuring it is left in a safe state. You should discuss your concerns with the gate owner so that they can take action to put things right.

I’m a domestic householder, do I have to do anything?

Health and safety law doesn’t apply to you. But it is a good idea to have regular checks carried out on the gates in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. This is particularly important where the gate may affect the safety of third parties – such as passers-by, children or visitors. As with other contractors, you’ll need to check that they are competent to carry out any work/inspections that you ask them to do.

Please note that anyone undertaking a ‘work activity’ on a domestic powered gate (eg repairs, checks, adjustments, servicing) will be subject to health and safety law. For further details see Powered Gates: Responsibilities (http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/powered-gates/responsibilities.htm)

I own commercial/industrial premises, what do I have to do?

You will have to ensure that powered doors and gates on the premises are safe. Existing powered doors and gates must be designed, constructed and maintained for safety. You will need to inspect them regularly to make sure they work properly and that protective devices are effective. In some cases, you may need to use a competent contractor to help you do this.

If you’re going to install a new powered door or gate – or ‘power-up’ an existing manually operated one – you should employ a competent installer who understands how these machines work, what the safety requirements are, how to do the work safely, and comply with the law concerning machinery supply. They should also provide you with user instructions and details on how to maintain the gates.

I install doors and gates, what must I do?

You must be competent. This means you must understand the risks associated with these products and the law concerning supply. You should ensure that they are installed according to the manufacturers’ instructions, making checks and adjustments as necessary so they are left safe. You must give user instructions to the client – whether domestic or commercial/industrial – on how to use and maintain the gates. If you have any concerns about the design of the gate, or its components, then you should discuss these with the manufacturer/supplier.

As a maintenance contractor, what do I have to do?

You must be competent to carry out maintenance or inspection work. This means understanding how the door or gate and its safety features work. If you find something wrong then you should talk to the owner about what you need to do to make it safe, particularly if there is a risk of injury. You need to leave the gate in a safe state. Where new components are fitted the user instructions may need to be updated.

HSE cannot get involved in civil disputes between owners or others with responsibility and contractors where there are disagreements about maintenance, repairs or upgrading work. In such cases, the owner and the contractor need to resolve the issues; both need to ensure that people are not put at risk of harm. Organisations such as Gate Safe® (http://gate-safe.org/) and the Door and Hardware Federation (http://www.dhfonline.org.uk/) may be able to help.

What are the main safety requirements for these machines?

Powered gates and doors

  • Must be properly designed, taking full account of the environment of use, the presence of vulnerable members of the population, and potential foreseeable misuse, as well as intended use;
  • Manufactured (including when assembled from components in situ) to the safety standards required by law, regardless of whether for use in connection with work, or located on private domestic premises;
  • Supplied with all relevant documentation, particularly the user instructions for the complete product, and where necessary of component parts;
  • Installed safely, and maintained for safety, by competent contractors;
  • If part of a workplace, be adequately inspected and maintained for safety;
  • If part of premises managed by a work undertaking (including landlords and managing agents of residential complexes), to meet the general duty for the safety of non-employed persons;
  • As necessary for on-going safety, regularly checked, which may require specific inspection, testing, and adjustment, so they remain safe; and
  • Where found to be dangerous, immediately taken out of use until all of the safety concerns have been adequately addressed.

What does the law say?

Powered (automatic) gates (barriers and doors) located in ‘workplaces’ are subject to a number of specific legal requirements. These will include requirements for:

  • design, manufacture, supply and installation under the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008; and
  • inspection and maintenance under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

There will also be general requirements under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 in relation to risks to third parties (non-employees).

Powered (automatic) gates for use on private domestic premises must comply with the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 when first installed.

Where can I get more information?

You can get more information about safe machinery and work equipment here: http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/index.htm. For more detailed information and guidance on this topic see the Powered Gate section: http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/powered-gates/introduction.htm.

HSE has worked with Gate Safe® and the Door and Hardware Federation (DHF) to produce advice and guidance on powered gates. You can get specific information on powered doors and gates from their web sites.

Or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Safe use of forklift trucks – scrap metal firm in court over worker’s severe forklift injuries

A scrap metal firm and its director have been sentenced after a Manchester worker suffered severe injuries to his left arm when it became stuck in a forklift truck.

The 30 year old worker remained trapped for over two hours while the emergency services tried to free his arm from the vehicle’s mast at a Manchester trading estate in November 2013.

The company and its director were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after it emerged that the worker had been told to stand on the forks on the truck to help move scrap cars into the back of a shipping container.

He suffered severe crush injuries when his arm became trapped and it took the combined effort of three fire crews, a specialist major rescue unit, two air ambulances, a medical team from Manchester Royal Infirmary and three ambulance crews to rescue him.

He sustained nerve damage to his left arm which makes it difficult for him to grip or lift items, and was in hospital for nearly two months. He still needs to visit Manchester Royal Infirmary for treatment and has been unable to return to work due to the extent of his injuries.

The court was told the company failed to report the incident to HSE for nearly three months, despite being told on several occasions that this was a legal requirement.

The company director was sentenced to six months imprisonment suspended for 18 months and ordered to pay costs of £750 after pleading guilty to a breach of Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

The firm pleaded guilty to breaches of Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Regulation 4 (2) of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013.

Managing lift trucks

Key messages

  • Lift trucks are particularly dangerous in the workplace.
  • On average, lift trucks are involved in about a quarter of all workplace transport accidents.
  • Accidents involving lift trucks are often due to poor supervision and a lack of training.

Safe working with lift trucks

HSE has published an Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) and guidance called Rider-operated lift trucks: Operator training and safe use. Click on the following link to download a free copy: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l117.htm

This sets the minimum standard of basic training people should receive before they are allowed to operate certain types of lift truck – even if they only operate the equipment occasionally. It also provides detailed guidance about how they can meet this standard.

The ACOP covers stacking rider-operated lift trucks, including articulated steering trucks. ‘Rider-operated’ means any truck that can carry an operator and includes trucks controlled from both seated and stand-on positions.

If you employ anyone to operate a lift truck covered by the ACOP, you should make sure that operators have been trained to the standards it sets out.

The ACOP also includes some sections taken from ‘Safety in working with lift trucks’ (now withdrawn).

More HSE guidance is available by clicking on the following links:

For more information on vehicles at work, visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/ 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