Fatality results in prosecution for landscape company

An employee died while loading a lorry at a landscaping company which resulted in the company being fined following a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive

An East Yorkshire garden landscaping supply company has been fined £600,000 after an employee died while loading a lorry.

Brian White, 59, was working for Kelkay Limited when he was operating a forklift truck at the company’s site on Heck and Pollington Lane, Pollington, East Yorkshire, on 15 June 2018.

Brian was fatally injured when the lorry he was loading was moved by the driver, pulling the forklift truck over and trapping him underneath.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Kelkay Limited’s risk assessment failed to take into account the possibility of lorries moving while they are being loaded. HSE also found that the systems of work provided for ensuring that vehicles were not moved during loading activities were inadequate.

Kelkay Limited, of Heck and Pollington Lane, Pollington, East Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £600,000 and ordered to pay £20,848.71 in costs at Grimsby Magistrates’ Court on 30 March 2023.

HSE inspector John Boyle commented: “This incident could have been avoided by implementing the correct control measures and safe working practices.”

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

Employee Died while Loading Lorry

Loading Guidance

Loading and unloading can be dangerous. Machinery can seriously hurt people. Heavy loads, moving or overturning vehicles and working at height can all lead to injuries or death.

Loading and unloading areas should be:

  • Clear of other traffic, pedestrians and people not involved in loading or unloading.
  • Clear of overhead electric cables so there is no chance touching them, or of electricity jumping to ‘earth’ through machinery, loads or people.
  • Level. To maintain stability, trailers should be parked on firm level ground,
  • Loads should be spread as evenly as possible, during both loading and unloading. Uneven loads can make the vehicle or trailer unstable.
  • Loads should be secured or arranged so that they do not slide around. Racking may help stability.
  • Safety equipment must be considered. Mechanical equipment and heavy moving loads are dangerous.  Guards or skirting plates may be necessary if there is a risk of anything being caught in machinery (for example dock levellers or vehicle tail lifts). There may be other mechanical dangers and safety procedures to be considered.
  • Ensure the vehicle or trailer has its brakes applied and all stabilisers are used. The vehicle should be as stable as possible.
  • In some workplaces it may be possible to install a harness system to protect people working at height. Provide a safe place where drivers can wait if they are not involved. Drivers should not remain in their cabs if this can be avoided. No-one should be in the loading/unloading area if they are not needed.
  • Vehicles must never be overloaded. Overloaded vehicles can become unstable, difficult to steer or be less able to brake.
  • Always check the floor or deck of the loading area before loading to make sure it is safe. Look out for debris, broken boarding, etc.
  • Loading should allow for safe unloading.
  • Loads must be suitably packaged. When pallets are used, the driver needs to check that they are in good condition and loads are properly secured to them.  Employers must ensure that loads are safe on the vehicle. They may need to be securely attached to make sure they cannot fall off.
  • Tailgates and sideboards must be closed when possible. If over-hang cannot be avoided, it must be kept to a minimum. The over-hanging part of the load must be clearly marked.
  • If more than one company is involved, they should agree in advance how loading and unloading will happen.  For example, if visiting drivers unload their vehicles themselves, they must receive the necessary instructions, equipment and co-operation for safe unloading. Arrangements will need to be agreed in advance between the haulier and the recipient.
  • Some goods are difficult to secure during transport. Hauliers and recipients will need to exchange information about loads in advance so that they can agree safe unloading procedures.
  • Checks must be made before unloading to make sure loads have not shifted during transit and are not likely to move or fall when restraints are removed.

There must be safeguards against drivers accidentally driving away too early. This does happen and is extremely dangerous. Measures could include:

Traffic lights.

  • The use of vehicle or trailer restraints.
  • The person in charge of loading or unloading could keep hold of the vehicle keys or paperwork until it is safe for the vehicle to be moved.
  • These safeguards would be especially effective where there could be communication problems, for example where foreign drivers are involved.

If you require health and safety advice for your business, please contact one of our team.

Corporate Manslaughter Prosecution

A corporate manslaughter prosecution by Dorset Police has resulted in convictions for a waste management company and its director.

A waste and recycling company has been sentenced for corporate manslaughter and other health and safety offences following the death of a man at a site in Poole. A company director has also been sentenced in connection with the incident.

Detectives from Dorset Police have been working with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to conduct investigations into two incidents that occurred at the FDS Waste Services in Mannings Heath Road.

The first incident occurred on Thursday 13 December 2018 when an employee at the site was injured following a collision with a vehicle and very sadly died as a result of the injuries he sustained.  The man was sorting recycling materials by hand in the yard when he was struck and killed by a reversing wheeled loader vehicle, which was being used to sort materials.

A further incident occurred on Monday 1 June 2020, in which an employee sustained injuries after becoming trapped in a large mechanical conveyor after he had climbed in to remove a blockage. The man sustained broken ribs and other injuries.

The joint investigation focused on allegations that the company had failed to put in place sufficient working practices to safeguard its employees, including failing to ensure employees were segregated from moving vehicles during waste sorting. It was also found that the company failed to provide its employees with adequate training, monitoring and supervision to prevent vehicle collisions in the yard.

A separate investigation by the HSE found that FDS Waste Services failed to ensure that the workforce was provided with the padlocks required for locking the power source of the machinery in the ‘off’ position and did not offer adequate training for dealing with blockages and other maintenance tasks, which required access behind the machinery guards.

Detectives from Dorset Police’s Major Crime Investigation Team (MCIT) worked jointly with the HSE to conduct detailed enquiries into the operations at the facility and liaised with a number of experts to compile evidence. Following engagement with specialists at the Crown Prosecution Service, charges were approved and the matter was brought before the court.

Following a four-week trial at Winchester Crown Court the company was found guilty of a charge of corporate manslaughter. It was also convicted for two offences of failing to discharge its duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

At a sentencing hearing on Wednesday 22 February 2023, the company was ordered to pay fines totalling £640,000, as well as costs of £60,000.  Also, the company director, Philip Pidgley, was also convicted of an offence of failing to discharge his duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. He was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for 12 months.

“Our thoughts remain with the family and loved ones of Mr Mohamed, who sadly died as a result of the incident on Thursday 13 December 2018.

“Nothing will ever make up for their loss, but we owe it to them to ensure those who put him and other employees at risk by failing to instil safe working practices are held to account.

“We have carried out a detailed investigation in conjunction with the HSE and other experts in order to demonstrate how the company fell below the standards required of them.”

Detective Superintendent Rich Dixey, of Dorset Police

After the prosecution, HSE inspector Berenice Ray said:

“Both of these incidents, including the tragic death of Mr Mohamed, could have been avoided had well-established measures been taken to ensure workers’ health and safety.

“Those in control of work must ensure that their workplace is organised in such a way that pedestrians and vehicles can circulate in a safe manner.

“They must also ensure that the power source of relevant machinery is isolated and physically ‘locked off’ whenever the guards are removed or access within the machinery is necessary.

“Those in control of work have a duty to assess the risks; devise safe methods of working and provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workforce.

“They must also adequately supervise work activities to check the effectiveness of the training provided and ensure safe systems of work are followed.

“There is clear, freely available guidance on how to manage these risks available on HSE’s website.”

Guidance

Employers who operate waste management sites must ensure that a suitable and sufficient risk assessment is undertaken covering the plant movement risks.  When considering the risks from vehicle manoeuvring, employers must ensure that vehicles have large enough windscreens (with wipers where necessary) and external mirrors to provide an all-round field of vision.  It is often worthwhile adding extra mirrors to reduce blind spots for drivers. Side mirrors can allow drivers of larger vehicles to see cyclists and pedestrians alongside their vehicles and can be effective in improving visibility around the vehicle from the driving position. These mirrors are fitted to larger road-going vehicles as standard.

Drivers should not place items in the windscreen area or in the way of mirrors or monitors, where they might impede visibility from the driving position. The area of the windscreen that is kept clear by the wipers should not be obscured, and nor should the side windows. Windows and mirrors will also normally need to be kept clean and in good repair. Dirt or cracks can make windows or mirrors less effective.

Some types of vehicles (such as straddle carriers, large shovel loaders and some large quarry vehicles) often have poor visibility from the cab. Visibility can be poor to the side or front of a vehicle as well as behind and loads on vehicles can severely limit the visibility from the driving position.

Lift trucks and compact dumper vehicles in particular can have difficulty with forward visibility when they are transporting bulky loads. Employers should recognise these risks in their risk assessment and think about ways to minimise them.

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) may help drivers to see clearly behind or around the vehicle. CCTV can cover most blind spots and the cost of fitting CCTV systems has fallen since the technology was first developed. Companies who have fitted CCTV have found that it can reduce the number of reversing accidents, so the systems usually pay for themselves in a few years.

Colour systems can provide a clearer image where there is little contrast (for example, outside on an overcast day). However, black-and-white systems normally provide a better image in lower light or darkness, and usually come with infra-red, which can be more effective than standard cameras at night.

Monitors should have adjustable contrast, brightness and resolution controls to make them useful in the different light conditions in which they will be used. Drivers may need to use a hood to shield any monitor from glare.

If possible, fit the camera for a CCTV system high up in the middle of the vehicle’s rear (one camera), or in the upper corners (two cameras). This will provide a greater field of vision and a better angle for the driver to judge distance and provide. It also keeps the camera clear of dust and spray, and out of the reach of thieves or vandals.

However, CCTV systems do have some limitations which employers should consider:

  • If the vehicle leaves a darker area to a more strongly lit area (for example, driving out of a building) the system may need time to adjust to the brightness.
  • A dirty lens will make a camera much less effective.
  • Drivers may find it difficult to judge heights and distances.

Drivers should not be complacent about safety even with CCTV systems installed. They should be trained in proper use of the equipment and employers have a duty to provide such training and instruction.

Reversing alarms may be drowned out by other noise or may be so common on a busy site that pedestrians do not take any notice. It can also be hard to know exactly where an alarm is coming from, and people who are less able to hear are also at greater risk. Alarms can also disturb nearby residents.  However, reversing alarms may be appropriate (based on the risk assessment) but might be most effectively used with other measures, such as warning lights.

Additional advice on transport safety can be found in the HSE Guide to workplace transport safety (HSG 136, 2014) which is available free on the website. If you require health and safety advice or support for your business, please contact one of our team.

Electric shock prosecutions

Electric shock prosecutions by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) highlight the dangers of working near overhead power cables. A construction company and two workers have been sentenced after a worker suffered an electric shock whilst working on a farm.

On 30 September 2019 an employee of Connop and Son Limited was working on Worton Grounds Farm, Deddington, Banbury, Oxon and pouring concrete when the floating arm of a mobile concrete pump came into contact with an overhead powerline.

As a result, the employee received an 11,000-volt shock which caused him to lose consciousness. His colleagues had to perform CPR to resuscitate him at the scene. The man was later taken to Oxford Hospital where he was in a coma for six days and hospitalised for 10 days.

The HSE investigation found that Connop & Son Limited fell far below the expected standard and failed to implement its own control measures documented within its risk assessment. Therefore, the company did not meet the requirements of regulation 14 of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989.

The HSE investigation also found that Alexander Maddan, a sole trader, failed to plan, manage and monitor the construction phase and failed to ensure reasonably practicable control measures were in place. Additionally, Shaun Walker, a concrete pump operator, failed to take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and others who were affected by his acts or omissions.

Connop and Son Limited, of Folly Farm, Eardisland, Leominster pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 14 of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989. The company was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,425 plus a victim surcharge of £181 at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on 28 October 2022.

Alexander Maddan, of Deddington, Banbury, Oxon pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 13 (1) of Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015. Mr Maddan was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay costs of £525 plus a victim surcharge of £181 at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on 28 October 2022.

Shaun Walker, of Swinford Leys, Wombourne, Wolverhampton pleaded guilty to breaching section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Act. Mr Walker was handed a 12-month community order with a requirement to carry out 60 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of £2,000 plus a victim surcharge of £90 at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on 28 October 2022.

“Connop and Son Limited, Alexander Maddan and Shaun Walker could have ensured that the mobile concrete pump lorry was positioned outside an exclusion zone to prevent contact with the overhead powerline.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

HSE inspector Steve Hull

Electric shock prosecutions

Electric shock safety guidance

Regulation 14 of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, prohibits people working on or near any live conductor (other than one suitably covered with insulating material so as to prevent danger) that danger may arise unless–

  • it is unreasonable in all the circumstances for it to be dead; and
  • it is reasonable in all the circumstances for him to be at work on or near it while it is live; and
  • suitable precautions (including where necessary the provision of suitable protective equipment) are taken to prevent injury.

Employers and the self-employed must take appropriate precautions to safeguard workers and others who may be impacted by their activities.  Any work activity to be undertaken near electrical cables must be properly planned and risk assessed with risks eliminated or reduced as far as reasonably practicable. 

Accidental contact with live overhead power lines kills people and causes many serious injuries every year. People are also harmed when a person or object gets too close to a line and a flashover occurs. Work involving high vehicles or long equipment is particularly high risk, such as;

In Construction – Lorry mounted cranes (such as Hiabs or Palingers), Mobile Elevated Work Platforms (MEWP’s), scaffold poles, tipper vehicles, cranes, ladders;

In Agriculture – combines, sprayer booms, materials handlers, tipper vehicles, ladders, irrigation pipes, polytunnels;

Those working near overhead powerlines should remember that:

  • going close to a live overhead line can result in a flashover that may kill. Touching a power line is not necessary for the danger to occur;
  • voltages lower than 230 volts can kill and injure people;
  • do not mistake overhead power lines on wooden poles for telephone wires; and
  • electricity can bypass wood, plastic or rubber, if it is damp or dirty, and cause fatal shocks. Do not rely on gloves or rubber boots to protect you.

The HSE guidance note “Avoiding danger from overhead power lines” describes how to work safely near overhead power lines in a range of industries.

Electric shock prosecutions

Planning

Plan and manage work near electric overhead power lines so that risks from accidental contact or close proximity to the lines are adequately controlled.  Safety precautions will depend on the nature of the work and will be essential even when work near the line is of short duration.

Safety can be achieved by a combination of measures including:

  • Planning and preparation
  • Eliminating the danger
  • Controlling the access
  • Controlling the work

Planning and preparation

The first step is to find out whether there is any overhead power line within or immediately next to the work area, or across any access route.  Information will be available from the local electricity supplier or Distribution Network Operator (DNO). If any overhead lines are found, you should assume that they are live unless proved otherwise by their owners.

If there are any overhead lines over the work area, near the site boundaries, or over access roads to the work area, consult the owners of the lines so that the proposed plan of work can be discussed.

Allow sufficient time for lines to be diverted or made dead, or for other precautions to be taken.

Eliminating the danger

You can eliminate the danger by:

  • Avoidance – find out if the work really has to be carried out under or near overhead lines, and cannot be done somewhere else. Make sure materials (such as bales or spoil) are not placed near overhead lines, and temporary structures (such as polytunnels) are erected outside safe clearance distances;
  • Diversion – arrange for overhead lines to be diverted away from the work area; or Isolation – arrange for lines to be made dead while the work is being done.

In some cases you may need to use a suitable combination of these measures, particularly where overhead lines pass over permanent work areas.  If the danger cannot be eliminated, you should manage the risk by controlling access to, and work beneath, overhead power lines.

Controlling the access

Where there is no scheduled work or requirement for access under the lines, barriers should be erected at the correct clearance distance away from the line to prevent close approach. The safe clearance distance should be ascertained from the Distribution Network Operator (DNO). HSE guidance documents Avoidance of danger from overhead electric power lines and Electricity at Work: Forestry and Arboriculture also provide advice on safe clearance distances and how barriers should be constructed. Where there is a requirement to pass beneath the lines, defined passageways should be made and clearly delineated.

The danger area should be made as small as possible by restricting the width of the passageway to the minimum needed for the safe crossing of plant. The passageway should cross the route of the overhead line at right angles if possible.

Controlling the work

If work beneath live overhead power lines cannot be avoided, barriers, goal posts and warning notices should be provided. Where field work is taking place, it may be impractical to erect barriers and goal posts around the overhead lines – these are more appropriate for use at gateways, on tracks and at access points to farmyards.  The following precautions may also be needed to manage the risk:

  • Clearance – the safe clearance required beneath the overhead lines should be found by contacting the Distribution Network Operator (DNO);
  • Exclusion – vehicles, plant, machinery, equipment, or materials that could reach beyond the safe clearance distance should not be taken near the line;
  • Modifications – Vehicles such as cranes, excavators and tele-handlers should be modified by the addition of suitable physical restraints so that they cannot reach beyond the safe clearance distances, measures should be put in place to ensure these restraints are effective and cannot be altered or tampered with;
  • Maintenance – operators of high machinery should be instructed not carry out any work on top of the machinery near overhead power lines;
  • Supervision – access for plant and materials and the working of plant should be under the direct supervision of a suitable person appointed to ensure that safety precautions are observed.

What to do if you come into contact with an OHPL

  • If part of a vehicle or load is in contact with an OHPL, you should remain in the cab and inform the Distribution Network Operator (DNO) immediately (stick the number in a visible place in the cab and keep it on your mobile phone).
  • Warn others to stay away.
  • Try to drive clear. If this is not possible, and you need to leave the vehicle to escape fire, JUMP CLEAR – do not dismount by climbing down the steps.
  • Never try to disentangle equipment until the owner of the line has confirmed that it has been de-energised and made safe.

Contact with an overhead power line may cause the power to ‘trip out’ temporarily and it may be re-energised automatically, without warning.  Your local Distribution Network Operator (DNO) can generally supply stickers describing emergency procedures and containing contact numbers that can be stuck in the cabs of vehicles likely to be used near overhead power lines.

The leaflet called Safe working near overhead power lines in agriculture and the Electricity Networks Association (ENA) publications Safety Information for Farmers and Agricultural Contractors and Watch It! In the Vicinity of Overhead Lines provide advice on what to do if machinery or equipment comes into contact with an overhead power line.

If you require health and safety advice for your business, please contact one of the Ashbrooke team.

Nestle Newcastle factory fine

Nestle Newcastle factory fine after an employee suffered life-changing injuries.  The incident happened on 30 November 2020 when the man was drawn into a roller mechanism on a conveyor machine.

South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard how the maintenance technician was investigating a problem on the conveyor belt of a machine used to make chocolate sweets. While checking the machine, his sleeve was caught in a roller, which dragged his left arm into the machine, trapping it between the roller and a conveyor belt.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the incident at Nestle’s factory on Rowan Drive, Fawdon, Newcastle upon Tyne found that the company had not properly assessed the risk created by the rollers under the conveyor belt and failed to guard the roller, which was a dangerous part.

It was foreseeable that employees would require access to this area and there was a clear risk of injury to employees coming into contact with this roller. Nestle had previously been prosecuted following a similar incident at its Halifax factory.

Nestle UK Ltd of City Place, Gatwick, West Sussex, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and was fined £800,000, ordered to pay costs of £7,776.50 and a victim surcharge of £190 at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on October 19.

“This incident could easily have been avoided had Nestle properly reviewed the safety measures at its plant and its equipment to ensure that access to dangerous parts was prevented.

“Nestle were aware of this risk following a similar incident at its Halifax plant but failed to take appropriate action.”

HSE inspector William Gilroy
Nestle Newcastle factory fine
Employers must ensure equipment is safe (stock image)

Work Equipment Guidance

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, often abbreviated to PUWER, place duties on people and companies who own, operate or have control over work equipment. PUWER also places responsibilities on businesses and organisations whose employees use work equipment, whether owned by them or not.  PUWER requires that equipment provided for use at work is:

  • suitable for the intended use
  • safe for use, maintained in a safe condition and inspected to ensure it is correctly installed and does not subsequently deteriorate
  • used only by people who have received adequate information, instruction and training
  • accompanied by suitable health and safety measures, such as protective devices and controls. These will normally include guarding, emergency stop devices, adequate means of isolation from sources of energy, clearly visible markings and warning devices
  • used in accordance with specific requirements, for mobile work equipment and power presses

Some work equipment is subject to other health and safety legislation in addition to PUWER. For example, lifting equipment must also meet the requirements of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER), pressure equipment must meet the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 and personal protective equipment must meet the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (PPE).

If your business or organisation uses work equipment or is involved in providing work equipment for others to use (e.g. for hire), you must manage the risks from that equipment. This means you must:

  • ensure the equipment is constructed or adapted to be suitable for the purpose it is used or provided for
  • take account of the working conditions and health and safety risks in the workplace when selecting work equipment
  • ensure work equipment is only used for suitable purposes
  • ensure work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair
  • where a machine has a maintenance log, keep this up to date
  • where the safety of work equipment depends on the manner of installation, it must be inspected after installation and before being put into use
  • where work equipment is exposed to deteriorating conditions liable to result in dangerous situations, it must be inspected to ensure faults are detected in good time so the risk to health and safety is managed
  • ensure that all people using, supervising or managing the use of work equipment are provided with adequate, clear health and safety information. This will include, where necessary, written instructions on its use and suitable equipment markings and warnings
  • ensure that all people who use, supervise or manage the use of work equipment have received adequate training, which should include the correct use of the equipment, the risks that may arise from its use and the precautions to take
  • where the use of work equipment is likely to involve a specific risk to health and safety (eg woodworking machinery), ensure that the use of the equipment is restricted to those people trained and appointed to use it
  • take effective measures to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery. This will normally be by fixed guarding but where routine access is needed, interlocked guards (sometimes with guard locking) may be needed to stop the movement of dangerous parts before a person can reach the danger zone. Where this is not possible, such as with the blade of a circular saw, it must be protected as far as possible and a safe system of work used. These protective measures should follow the hierarchy laid down in PUWER regulation 11(2) and the PUWER Approved Code of Practice and guidance or, for woodworking machinery, the Safe use of woodworking machinery: Approved Code of Practice and guidance
  • take measures to prevent or control the risks to people from parts and substances falling or being ejected from work equipment, or the rupture or disintegration of work equipment
  • ensure that the risks from very hot or cold temperatures from the work equipment or the material being processed or used are managed to prevent injury
  • ensure that work equipment is provided with appropriately identified controls for starting, stopping and controlling it, and that these control systems are safe
  • where appropriate, provide suitable means of isolating work equipment from all power sources (including electric, hydraulic, pneumatic and gravitational energy)
  • ensure work equipment is stabilised by clamping or otherwise to avoid injury
  • take appropriate measures to ensure maintenance operations on work equipment can be carried out safely while the equipment is shut down, without exposing people undertaking maintenance operations to risks to their health and safety

When providing new work equipment for use at work, you must ensure it conforms with the essential requirements of any relevant product supply law (for new machinery this means the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008). You must check it:

  • has appropriate conformity marking and is labelled with the manufacturer’s details 
  • comes with a Declaration of Conformity
  • is provided with instructions in English
  • is free from obvious defects – and that it remains so during its working life

If you require advice on health and safety in your workplace, please contact a member of the Ashbrooke team.

Vehicle injured guard

Vehicle injured guard which has resulted in a meat production company being fined £440,000. The security guard at an abattoir was seriously injured by a vehicle passing through the site gate.

The 63-year-old security guard, who was working for an independent security company, was on duty at the gated entrance of the Dunbia (UK) abattoir at Hatherleigh, near Okehampton, Devon early on the morning of November 29, 2018.

Her duties included operating the gates to allow delivery vehicles to enter and exit the site. She sustained serious leg and head injuries requiring surgery when she was hit by a vehicle towing a trailer leaving the site. She was holding the gate open at the time.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the system of work was unsafe and that the company’s risk assessments did not extend to the security guards. Risks had not been adequately assessed or controlled.

Although there was a high volume of vehicle movements on site there was no segregation between the vehicle routes and pedestrians on site.

Dunbia (UK), of Castle Street, Exeter, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. the company was fined £440,000 and ordered to pay costs of £27,016 and a victim surcharge of £170 at Plymouth Magistrates Court on 12 October 2022.

“Employers have a legal duty to ensure that the health and safety of their employees, contractors and members of the public are not put at risk.

“This incident could have been avoided had the company assessed the risks from vehicle movements and implemented safety measures including segregating vehicles and pedestrians.”

HSE inspector Victoria Buchanan

Vehicle injured guard
Does your workplace transport keep pedestrians safe?

Vehicle Safety

When considering the risks from vehicle manoeuvring, employers must ensure that vehicles have large enough windscreens (with wipers where necessary) and external mirrors to provide an all-round field of vision.  It is often worthwhile adding extra mirrors to reduce blind spots for drivers. Side mirrors can allow drivers of larger vehicles to see cyclists and pedestrians alongside their vehicles and can be effective in improving visibility around the vehicle from the driving position. These mirrors are fitted to larger road-going vehicles as standard.

Drivers should not place items in the windscreen area or in the way of mirrors or monitors, where they might impede visibility from the driving position. The area of the windscreen that is kept clear by the wipers should not be obscured, and nor should the side windows. Windows and mirrors will also normally need to be kept clean and in good repair. Dirt or cracks can make windows or mirrors less effective.

Some types of vehicles (such as straddle carriers, large shovel loaders and some large quarry vehicles) often have poor visibility from the cab. Visibility can be poor to the side or front of a vehicle as well as behind and loads on vehicles can severely limit the visibility from the driving position.

Lift trucks and compact dumper vehicles in particular can have difficulty with forward visibility when they are transporting bulky loads. Employers should recognise these risks in their risk assessment and think about ways to minimise them.

Vehicle CCTV

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) may help drivers to see clearly behind or around the vehicle. CCTV can cover most blind spots and the cost of fitting CCTV systems has fallen since the technology was first developed. Companies who have fitted CCTV have found that it can reduce the number of reversing accidents, so the systems usually pay for themselves in a few years.

Colour systems can provide a clearer image where there is little contrast (for example, outside on an overcast day). However, black-and-white systems normally provide a better image in lower light or darkness, and usually come with infra-red, which can be more effective than standard cameras at night.

Monitors should have adjustable contrast, brightness and resolution controls to make them useful in the different light conditions in which they will be used. Drivers may need to use a hood to shield any monitor from glare.

If possible, fit the camera for a CCTV system high up in the middle of the vehicle’s rear (one camera), or in the upper corners (two cameras). This will provide a greater field of vision and a better angle for the driver to judge distance and provide. It also keeps the camera clear of dust and spray, and out of the reach of thieves or vandals.

However, CCTV systems do have some limitations which employers should consider:

  • If the vehicle leaves a darker area to a more strongly lit area (for example, driving out of a building) the system may need time to adjust to the brightness.
  • A dirty lens will make a camera much less effective.
  • Drivers may find it difficult to judge heights and distances.

Drivers should not be complacent about safety even with CCTV systems installed. They should be trained in proper use of the equipment and employers have a duty to provide such training and instruction.

Vehicles Reversing

Reversing alarms may be drowned out by other noise or may be so common on a busy site that pedestrians do not take any notice. It can also be hard to know exactly where an alarm is coming from, and people who are less able to hear are also at greater risk. Alarms can also disturb nearby residents.  However, reversing alarms may be appropriate (based on the risk assessment) but might be most effectively used with other measures, such as warning lights.

Additional advice on transport safety can be found in the HSE Guide to workplace transport safety (HSG 136, 2014) which is available free on the website.

If you require health and safety advice or support for your business, please contact one of the Ashbrooke team.

Bernard Mathews worker paralysed

A Bernard Matthews worker paralysed in an accident has resulted in the company being prosecuted.  Bernard Mathew’s Food Ltd has been fined £400,000 following two separate incidents where employees were seriously injured.

Colin Frewin was left permanently paralysed and spent six months in hospital following an incident at the company’s Suffolk manufacturing plant.

Mr Frewin suffered multiple serious injuries, including a pierced left lung, several broken ribs, four fractured vertebrae and a spinal bleed. He was put in an induced coma for three weeks and is now classed as a T6 paraplegic and has been diagnosed with autonomic dysreflexia (AD).

Chelmsford Crown Court heard how 54-year-old Mr Frewin suffered the injuries on 28 January 2020. He had been tasked with cleaning a large screw conveyor used to move poultry turkeys along and chill them. While working on the gantry between the spin chillers he noticed a turkey stuck at the bottom of it.

As he attempted to dislodge the turkey using a squeegee, Mr Frewin was drawn into the machine. It was only when a colleague noticed Mr Frewin was missing from the gantry and heard his cries for help, the emergency stop was pulled.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found an unsafe system of work meant the chillers remained running as Mr Frewin went to dislodge the turkey.

In a victim personal statement, Mr Frewin described how his horrific injuries left him feeling “isolated” and in need of daily care.

“I will never walk again and so I will be in a wheelchair permanently.  I now have a suprapubic catheter, which was inserted via an operation.  The district nurse has to give me bowel care every day and visits me daily at home.  I also suffer from AD – a condition which is life threatening, as my body doesn’t register if I’m ill.  I have moved from my flat overlooking the sea, to a bungalow.  However, I miss seeing the sea and being close to the seafront and all the amenities. I feel isolated as I cannot go out when I want as I need people to assist me.  The accident has affected my life and my family’s lives.  When I talk about the incident, I sometimes find this upsetting and then have restless nights.”

There was another incident at the same plant five months earlier, on 12 August 2019, when a turkey deboning line had to be shut down after developing a fault.

As a result, 34-year-old Mr Adriano Gama, along with the rest of the employees, were moved to a surplus production line to continue the process.

Whilst working on the surplus production line, one of the wings became stuck in the belt under the machine. Mr Gama attempted to push it out of the way, but as he did do, his gloved hand became caught in the exposed sprocket of the conveyer and was drawn into the machine.

He was eventually freed and taken to hospital having suffered a broken arm and severe damage to the muscles in his forearm.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that on the day of the incident pre-start checks were only completed on the production lines that were regularly used.

Therefore, when workers were asked to move to the surplus deboning line there was no system in place to ensure that it was checked prior to it being put into operation.

The investigation uncovered that two safety guards had been removed and a team leader responsible for the production lines had verbally reported this issue to the engineering team, but it was not followed up by either party.

Bernard Mathews Prosecution

Bernard Matthews Food Ltd of Sparrowhawk Road, Halesworth in Suffolk pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £400,000 and ordered to pay costs of £15,000.

“Both incidents could have been avoided – the consequences were devastating for Mr Frewin in particular.

“If Bernard Matthews had acted to identify and manage the risks involved and put a safe system of work in place they could have easily been prevented.

“Fundamentally, you should not clean a machine while it is running.

“Companies need to ensure that risk assessments cover activities including cleaning and blockages, and that where appropriate, robust isolation and lock off mechanisms are in place for these activities.

“Prior to use you can put in place some pre-start checks and if faults such as missing guards are identified they need to be formally reported, tracked, rectified and closed out.”

HSE Principal Inspector Adam Hills

Bernard Mathews worker paralysed
Do you provide suitable equipment to your workers?

Worker Equipment

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, often abbreviated to PUWER, place duties on people and companies who own, operate or have control over work equipment. PUWER also places responsibilities on businesses and organisations whose employees use work equipment, whether owned by them or not.  PUWER requires that equipment provided for use at work is:

  • suitable for the intended use
  • safe for use, maintained in a safe condition and inspected to ensure it is correctly installed and does not subsequently deteriorate
  • used only by people who have received adequate information, instruction and training
  • accompanied by suitable health and safety measures, such as protective devices and controls. These will normally include guarding, emergency stop devices, adequate means of isolation from sources of energy, clearly visible markings and warning devices
  • used in accordance with specific requirements, for mobile work equipment and power presses

Some work equipment is subject to other health and safety legislation in addition to PUWER. For example, lifting equipment must also meet the requirements of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER), pressure equipment must meet the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 and personal protective equipment must meet the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (PPE).

If your business or organisation uses work equipment or is involved in providing work equipment for others to use (e.g. for hire), you must manage the risks from that equipment. This means you must:

  • ensure the equipment is constructed or adapted to be suitable for the purpose it is used or provided for
  • take account of the working conditions and health and safety risks in the workplace when selecting work equipment
  • ensure work equipment is only used for suitable purposes
  • ensure work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair
  • where a machine has a maintenance log, keep this up to date
  • where the safety of work equipment depends on the manner of installation, it must be inspected after installation and before being put into use
  • where work equipment is exposed to deteriorating conditions liable to result in dangerous situations, it must be inspected to ensure faults are detected in good time so the risk to health and safety is managed
  • ensure that all people using, supervising or managing the use of work equipment are provided with adequate, clear health and safety information. This will include, where necessary, written instructions on its use and suitable equipment markings and warnings
  • ensure that all people who use, supervise or manage the use of work equipment have received adequate training, which should include the correct use of the equipment, the risks that may arise from its use and the precautions to take
  • where the use of work equipment is likely to involve a specific risk to health and safety (eg woodworking machinery), ensure that the use of the equipment is restricted to those people trained and appointed to use it
  • take effective measures to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery. This will normally be by fixed guarding but where routine access is needed, interlocked guards (sometimes with guard locking) may be needed to stop the movement of dangerous parts before a person can reach the danger zone. Where this is not possible, such as with the blade of a circular saw, it must be protected as far as possible and a safe system of work used. These protective measures should follow the hierarchy laid down in PUWER regulation 11(2) and the PUWER Approved Code of Practice and guidance or, for woodworking machinery, the Safe use of woodworking machinery: Approved Code of Practice and guidance
  • take measures to prevent or control the risks to people from parts and substances falling or being ejected from work equipment, or the rupture or disintegration of work equipment
  • ensure that the risks from very hot or cold temperatures from the work equipment or the material being processed or used are managed to prevent injury
  • ensure that work equipment is provided with appropriately identified controls for starting, stopping and controlling it, and that these control systems are safe
  • where appropriate, provide suitable means of isolating work equipment from all power sources (including electric, hydraulic, pneumatic and gravitational energy)
  • ensure work equipment is stabilised by clamping or otherwise to avoid injury
  • take appropriate measures to ensure maintenance operations on work equipment can be carried out safely while the equipment is shut down, without exposing people undertaking maintenance operations to risks to their health and safety

New Equipment for Workers

When providing new work equipment for use at work, you must ensure it conforms with the essential requirements of any relevant product supply law (for new machinery this means the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008). You must check it:

  • has appropriate conformity marking and is labelled with the manufacturer’s details 
  • comes with a Declaration of Conformity
  • is provided with instructions in English
  • is free from obvious defects – and that it remains so during its working life

If you require advice on health and safety in your workplace, please contact one of the Ashbrooke team.

Bonfire prosecution

A bonfire prosecution of a Kent groundwork contractor has resulted in the company being fined. A petrol fire resulted in injuries to an employee when petrol was thrown on a bonfire.

On 24 June 2020, a 26-year-old groundworker employed by Kent County Surfacing Limited was working on a new residential development in Ramsgate, Kent when a co-worker used petrol on a bonfire. The groundworker was unaware of this and after he was instructed to light the bonfire, it engulfed him in flames as the petrol vapour ignited. The worker suffered serious burns and underwent two skin graft operations to his left hand, left arm, left side of torso and both his legs.

Groundworkers help prepare a construction site and ensure it is ready for the structural work to start.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had failed to appropriately supervise their operatives and failed to provide them with the appropriate information and instruction, so far as is reasonably practicable to ensure work was carried out without risks to health or safety.

Bonfire prosecution
Does your workplace have fire safety precautions in place?

At Folkestone Magistrates on 10 October, Kent County Surfacing Ltd of 7 Mariners View, Deal, Kent, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 15 (8) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015. They were fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,333.42.

“The operative’s injuries are life changing and could have easily been fatal.

“This serious incident and devastation should have been avoided if those in control of the work provided the appropriate supervision, information and instructions to their workers.”

HSE inspector Ross Carter

If you require advice on health and safety in your workplace, please contact one of the Ashbrooke team.

Uninsured employer prosecuted

An uninsured employer prosecuted for failing to have appropriate insurance in place has been fined by Luton Magistrates Court. 

Exclusive Oriental Classics Ltd and its director, Mr Kian Hoo Tay, appeared at Luton Magistrates Court on 10 October for failing to have Employers’ Liability (Compulsory) Insurance (ELCI).

The court heard an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered the failure when one of the company’s employees was injured at work on 1 March 2022.

Exclusive Oriental Classics Ltd and Mr Hoo Tay had failed to renew the insurance policy that expired on 13 May 2021.

Prosecution

Exclusive Oriental Classics Ltd, of Bellfield Avenue, Harrow, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 1(1) of the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory) Insurance Act 1969, fined £1,650, a victim surcharge of £165 and ordered to pay costs of £1750.

The Director, Mr Kian Hoo Tay, of same address pleaded guilty to breaching Section 1(1) of the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory) Insurance Act 1969, fined £1,650, a victim surcharge of £165 and ordered to pay costs of £1750.

“Every employer needs to ensure that they have Employers’ Liability (Compulsory) Insurance in place to ensure against liability for injury or disease to their employees arising out of their employment.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards”.

HSE inspector Emma Page

Uninsured employer prosecuted
Do you have insurance for your business?

Employer Liability Insurance

Most employers are required by the law to insure against liability for injury or disease to their employees arising out of their employment.  The Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969 requires your employer to have at least a minimum level of insurance against any such claims.  Employers’ liability insurance will cover relevant work injuries or illness whether these are caused on or off site. However, any injuries or illness relating to motor accidents which occur while you are at work may be covered separately by the employer’s motor insurance.

Public liability insurance is different. It covers employers for claims made against them by members of the public or other businesses, but not for claims by employees. While public liability insurance is generally voluntary, employers’ liability insurance is compulsory. Employers can be fined if they do not hold a current employers’ liability insurance policy which complies with the law.  Employers must display a copy of this certificate where employees have reasonable access to it. If they do not, they can be fined.  Since 1 October 2008, employers have been allowed to satisfy this requirement by displaying the certificate electronically for example on the company’s intranet or website. If your employer chooses this method, they must ensure that you know how and where to find the certificate and you have reasonable access to it. If you require advice on health and safety in your workplace, please contact one of the Ashbrooke team.

Work at Height

A refrigeration company has been fined £27,000 after an incident where a worker suffered gantry fall injuries while carrying out work at height.

GEA Refrigeration UK Ltd was replacing a cooler unit located on a gantry 10m above the warehouse floor at an Iceland depot in Swindon on 1 February 2017.

work at height
Stock image

This required a section of the gantry floor to be removed. A GEA employee fell 2.5 metres through the gap created by this removal and on to a cherry picker, suffering fractured ribs and internal injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had failed to properly plan, co-ordinate and supervise the work, including the removal of the gantry floor to ensure the work was carried out in a safe manner to control the risks of falls.

GEA Refrigeration UK Ltd, of Ludgate Hill, London, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, and was fined £27,000 and ordered to pay £35,000 costs and a victim surcharge of £170 at Bristol Crown Court on 30 September 2022.

“This incident could have been avoided by identifying and implementing effective control measures and safe working practices.

“Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related injury and fatalities and the risks associated with working at height are well known.”

HSE inspector Leo Diez

In his victim personal statement, the injured worker said: “The effect of the accident on my personal and work life has been huge and has had a lasting effect.”

Work at Height Regulations

Falls from height are one of the biggest causes of workplace fatalities and major injuries. Common causes are falls from ladders and through fragile roofs. The purpose of The Work at Height Regulations 2005 is to prevent death and injury caused by a fall from height. If you are an employer or you control work at height (for example facilities managers or building owners who may contract others to work at height) the Regulations apply to you.

Employers and those in control of any work at height activity must make sure work is properly planned, supervised and carried out by competent people. This includes using the right type of equipment for working at height. Low-risk, relatively straightforward tasks will require less effort when it comes to planning.  Employers and those in control must first assess the risks by carrying out a risk assessment.  Where you employ 5 or more employees, your risk assessment must be in writing.

Employees have general legal duties to take reasonable care of themselves and others who may be affected by their actions, and to co-operate with their employer to enable their health and safety duties and requirements to be complied with.

Work at Height Guidance

Work at height means work in any place where, if there were no precautions in place, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury. For example, you are working at height if you:

  • are working on a ladder or a flat roof;
  • could fall through a fragile surface;
  • could fall into an opening in a floor or a hole in the ground.

Take a sensible approach when considering precautions for work at height. There may be some low-risk situations where common sense tells you no particular precautions are necessary and the law recognises this.

There is a common misconception that ladders, and stepladders are banned, but this is not the case. There are many situations where a ladder is the most suitable equipment for working at height.  Before working at height, you must work through these simple steps:

  • avoid work at height where it is reasonably practicable to do so;
  • where work at height cannot be avoided, prevent falls using either an existing place of work that is already safe or the right type of equipment;
  • minimise the distance and consequences of a fall, by using the right type of equipment where the risk cannot be eliminated.

You should:

  1. do as much work as possible from the ground;
  2. ensure workers can get safely to and from where they work at height;
  3. ensure equipment is suitable, stable and strong enough for the job, maintained and checked regularly;
  4. make sure you don’t overload or overreach when working at height;
  5. take precautions when working on or near fragile surfaces;
  6. provide protection from falling objects;
  7. consider your emergency evacuation and rescue procedures.

If you need health, safety and environmental advice for your business, please contact one of the Ashbrooke team.

Radiation breach prosecution

Our consultants consider a recent radiation breach prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).  A company which provides diagnostic imaging services, and its radiopharmaceutical subsidiary company, have been given six-figure fines following incidents at two sites in which employees were exposed to radiation levels in excess of the legal annual dose limit.

Radiation Exposure

On 25 March 2019, a vial of a radioactive substance (FDG) leaked after it was installed into a shielded dispensing pot in the dispensing laboratory of Alliance Medical Limited’s (AML) Positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT) facility at St James’s University Hospital in Leeds.

Radiation breach prosecution
Stock image

This resulted in two members of staff becoming contaminated with skin doses in excess of the annual dose limit as defined by the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017.

In a second incident, on 15 November 2019, the same radioactive substance was unknowingly handled during the production process at the Alliance Medical Radiopharmacy Limited (AMRL) facility at Keele University Science Park in Staffordshire.

Consequently, a member of staff was contaminated with a skin dose in excess of the annual dose limit as defined by the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017.

An investigation by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident at the AML Leeds PET-CT centre found that training and instruction was inadequate and supervision below an acceptable standard.

Staff were not made fully aware of the localised instructions and were using personal protective equipment (PPE) unsuitable for work with radioactive material.

Further radiation incident

A separate investigation by HSE found that at AMRL’s facility at Keele University Science Park, the radiation warning system associated with the particular production equipment was not operational at the time of the incident and had not undergone routine maintenance and testing at suitable intervals.

Radiation prosecution

Alliance Medical Limited, based at Iceni Centre, Warwick Technology Park, Warwick, Warwickshire pleaded guilty to breaches of the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017, Regulations 12, 18(3), 18(4) and 18(5)a, and were fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,382 at Leeds Magistrates’ Court on 29 September 2022.

Alliance Medical Radiopharmacy Limited, also based at Iceni Centre, Warwick Technology Park, Warwick, Warwickshire pleaded guilty to breaches of the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017, Regulations 9(2)a, 11(1) and 12, and were fined £120,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,382 in the same court on the same date.

“The workers in both these incidents were exposed to levels of radiation which could potentially impact on their health in the future.

“Employers in the nuclear medicine sector must properly assess the risks to their employees and others and ensure all radiation doses are as low as reasonably practicable.

“Both these incidents could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out the correct control measures and ensuring safe working practices were followed. Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement actions against those that fall below the required standards.”

HSE specialist inspector Elizabeth Reeves

The HSE has published an approved code of practice and guidance for Working with ionising radiation (L121) which is free to download.

If you require health, safety and environmental advice for your business, please contact one of the Ashbrooke team.