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Will a risk assessment keep you out of court?

Controlling the risks in the workplace

Author: Dee Jones/22 August 2018/Categories: HEALTH & SAFETY, Personal safety at work, Creating safe working conditions, Safety when working at height

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The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) say that a risk assessment is simply a careful examination of what, in your work, could cause harm to people, so that you can weigh up whether you should identify sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace.

The consequences of not having safety measures in place

Contractor, client and director convicted after dangerous building site conditions 
A contractor, client and director have been convicted after conditions at a building site were found to be dangerous. Southwark Crown Court heard that inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) visited the construction site on Gladesmore Road, London on numerous occasions in 2015 while building work was taking place at the property.
Inspectors found poor health and safety conditions on site including dangerous work at height, unshored excavations, and poor welfare facilities. This resulted in numerous prohibition notices, improvement notices and notifications of contravention being served on the contractor and client. An HSE investigation found that the contractor, Mr Bodnariu, failed to plan, manage and monitor the work on site. The client company WEL Estates Limited failed to make suitable arrangements for managing a project, and the director of WEL Estates Limited, Mr Yoel Lew, had allowed the poor conditions on site. Read more...

HSE to prosecute Celsa Manufacturing (UK) Ltd
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has informed Celsa Manufacturing (UK) Ltd that it will be prosecuted following the explosion at Celsa steelworks, Splott, Cardiff on 18 November 2015. The explosion resulted in the deaths of Mr Mark Sim and Mr Peter O’Brien, engineers at the company’s Rod and Bar Mill, and injured other workers. The families of Mark Sim and Peter O’Brien have been informed that Celsa Manufacturing (UK) Ltd will be prosecuted. Celsa Manufacturing (UK) Ltd is due to appear at Cardiff Magistrates’ Court on 11 September 2018 to face a charge under Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Two companies fined half a million pounds after worker left paralysed 
Two companies have been fined more than half a million pounds after a site worker lost the use of his legs following an incident in London. Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 5 November 2015, Mr Marcel Păduraru, a Romanian construction worker, fell onto and then through a fragile plastic skylight into a basement over three metres below. He suffered a severed spine and will not regain the use of his legs. He was 30 years old at the time of the incident.
Grangewood Builders Limited had been appointed as the principal contractor to carry out a £5,000,000 refurbishment at a large house near Buckingham Palace on Chapel Road, London. Grangewood had engaged Trenchco Limited of to carry out specialised demolition work at the site.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that, despite work being carried out directly by the site skylight, neither company checked if it was fragile or took action to stop people falling through it. Read more...

Yorkshire company fined after worker sustains chemical burns
A rubber inflatable boat manufacturing and repair company has today been sentenced after an employee sustained chemical burns while cleaning down a boat using solvents at its factory in Hull.
Hull and Holderness Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 23 March 2016, a worker at Humber Fabrications (Hull) Ltd was tasked with cleaning the deck of a rigid inflatable boat using the solvent dichloromethane.  The employee was using a fabric cloth soaked in dichloromethane to wipe and clean the deck of a boat being manufactured.  During the work he began to feel light-headed and so took a five minute break. The worker returned to the boat, knelt down inside to carry on cleaning and subsequently collapsed. He was found sometime later by his colleagues lying in a pool of dichloromethane. Read more…

North West company fined after two workers fall from height
A Manchester-based principal contractor has today been sentenced for safety breaches after two workers both fell when working from height.
Leeds Crown Court heard how, on 3 October 2014, the two subcontracted joiners were working on the refurbishment and construction of new build dwellings at the former Wharfedale Hospital in Otley, West Yorkshire. They were working in the bell tower at the site on a temporary access platform when it collapsed. The men fell approximately 3.4 metres onto a lower platform which also collapsed. They then fell a further 3.4m onto the ground floor of the building. The platforms were installed by PJ Livesey Living Space (North) Ltd to allow other contractors to access the roof structure. One of the workers injured their ankle while the other has suffered permanent nerve damage to the face. Read more...

Advice is at hand

  • A risk assessment has to be backed up with proactive engagement of the sensible measures that have been identified. All too often the identification of measures becomes sidelined or shelved because of factors from lack of resources to lack of training. A risk assessment should have completion dates and an alternative action plan should the original idea be found to be something that cannot be implemented. Help is at hand in many directions and usually the suppliers of the equipment that is required to enable you to be best prepared, will be able to offer support and advice. Action Handling Equipment provide such a service for any of their customers considering the purchase of materials handling equipment.
  • Make sure that you are providing the correct and best suited equipment to keep your workplace safe and don't become yet another statistic to add to the list: Annual workplace fatalities . 144 workers were killed in 2017-18 (RIDDOR). Provisional data for work-related fatal injuries shows that 144 workers were fatally injured in Britain between April 2017 and March 2018 (a rate of 0.45 per 100 000 workers). Read more...
  • Always report any accidents within the workplace. The HSE provides excellent help in understanding the process for this: Reporting a workplace accident
  • Make sure you submit a RIDDOR report for a workplace accident where necessary
    RIDDOR puts duties on employers, the self-employed and people in control of work premises to report certain serious workplace accidents, occupational diseases and specified dangerous occurrences.
  • HSE's leaflet: Reporting accidents and incidents at work (INDG453) identifies what is required from employers and provides information about RIDDOR.

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