• Robert Spicer

Recent Health And Safety Prosecutions

Severe crushing injuries: £10,000 fine

Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service v Angus Tyres Ltd (2014) Arbroath Sheriff Court, April 15

Angus Tyres Ltd has been fined after an employee suffered severe crushing injuries.

Significant points of the case

  • In November 2012 Michael Davidson, an employee of Angus Tyres, was working on a farm, replacing the wheels of a tractor. He removed the nuts from one of the wheels when he noticed a farm labourer who might be injured if the wheel fell on him.

  • The wheel toppled. Davidson managed to prevent it striking the labourer but it struck him. He suffered a collapsed lung and multiple fractures.

  • Neither a risk assessment nor a manual handling assessment had been prepared for the changing of tractor wheels. The company had failed to enquire with the customer at the farm to ascertain the weight of the tractor wheels.

  • There was no safe system of work for changing the wheels. No training had been given to employees for the work. Workers were left to change wheels alone without considering the weights to be handled by a single person.

The company was fined £10,000 under section 2, HSW Act, for failing to ensure the health and safety of employees.

Amputated finger: conditional discharge

Health and Safety Executive v Birtenshaw (2014) Trafford magistrates’ court, April 11

Birtenshaw, a charity, has been fined following an incident in which a child lost a finger.

Significant points of the case

  • In September 2012 a nine-year old pupil at the Birtenshaw special needs school in Bolton trapped his hand in the hinge of a door at the school’s quiet room.

  • The child, who is autistic and has learning difficulties, lost the whole of his index finger.

  • The charity had identified the need for finger guards during the construction of the school. It failed to ensure that the guards had been fitted.

Birtenshaw was given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay £898 costs under section 3, HSW Act, for failing to ensure the health and safety of non-employees.

A spokesperson for the HSE commented after the case that the charity knew that there was a risk of children’s fingers being trapped in doors. Pupils who attended the school had learning and physical disabilities which made them particularly vulnerable.

Wall collapse: £140 fine

Health and Safety Executive v Lee Marsden (2014) Kirklees magistrates’ court, April 9

Lee Marsden, director of MWK Group LLP, a building company, has been fined after a 61-yer old woman suffered multiple injuries when a garden wall collapsed.

Significant points of the case

  • In September 2011 a woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, was seriously injured when a wall collapsed in her garden.

  • Marsden had failed to ensure that the wall was properly built to withstand the pressures of an earth-retaining structure.

  • During the construction of the wall, in which Marsden was directly involved, cracks began to appear. Adequate precautions were not taken to ensure the safety of residents in the house.

  • The woman was struck by the collapse of the two-metre wall. She suffered fractures and lacerations.

Marsden was fined £140 plus £100 costs under section 37, HSW Act, which states, in summary, that where an offence by a company has been attributable to a director of the company, he as well as the company shall be guilty of that offence.

Gas explosion: £30,000 fine

Health and Safety Executive v Gaspack Services Ltd (2014) Cardiff Crown Court, March 31.

Gaspack Services Ltd has been fined following the explosion of a gas cylinder.

Significant points of the case

  • In March 2010 Andrew Wright was filling a cylinder with nitrogen and carbon dioxide at the premises of Guardian Gas Ltd in Swansea.

  • The cylinder exploded and severed his leg below the knee.

  • The failed cylinder was one of a batch which Guardian Gas had sent to Gaspack, certified cylinder inspection body, for inspection, testing and certification for safe use for 10 years. The cylinders were certified by Gaspack as safe for use.

  • The inspection should have included internal shot blasting to remove corrosion and a thorough internal check for cracks or flaws. Only 2/3/ of the cylinder had been shot blasted and there was a large crack near the top of the cylinder.

  • An HSE examination of the arrangements at Gaspack discovered shortcomings in procedures, information, records, competency, supervision and monitoring.

Gaspack Services Ltd was fined £30,000 plus £60,000 costs for a breach of section 3, HSW Act, for failing to ensure the health and safety of non-employees.

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