Utilities company fined after member of the public died following fall into excavation site

A utilities company has been fined after a member of the public suffered fatal injuries after falling into an excavation on a footpath.

On 28 May 2017 M and S Water Services (Utilities) Ltd was digging on a footpath on Devon Road, Luton to access a stop tap that needed replacing. The stop tap could not be reached by hand and so it was left protected by plastic barriers until a deep dig team could attend a few days later.

Over the bank holiday weekend, a member of the public, Matthew Wilmot, was walking home when he fell into the excavation site. His body was found the next morning.

The HSE’s investigation found that a suitable and sufficient risk assessment had not been completed. It should have identified the need for secure fencing, back filling or covering as the excavation was to be left unattended for five days and there was no easy alternative route for nearby householders.

M and S Water (Utilities) Ltd of High Town Enterprise Centre in York Street, Luton were found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. They were fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £50,238.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Alison Ashworth said: “This tragic incident could have been avoided if the risks had been properly assessed and simple precautions put in place.”

 

This is valid as of 16th July 2021.

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Employee killed in electrical incident

A warehouse management solutions company has been fined after an employee was electrocuted while servicing an air compressor.

Maidstone Magistrates’ Court heard that on 8 December 2017, Andrew Meade was carrying out pre-planned maintenance on an air compressor at a distribution centre in Gravesend, when he was electrocuted. He was not found for more than an hour following the incident. His injuries were fatal.

Investigating, the HSE found that the control measures in place to prevent contact with electricity during maintenance activities were not suitable or sufficient. The electrical systems had not been tested or visually inspected since installation, and an incorrect isolating switch had not been identified.

Logistex Limited of Kettering Parkway, Kettering, Northamptonshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was fined £180,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £23,358.16.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Joanne Williams said: “Poorly maintained electrical installations and faulty electrical appliances can kill or severely injure people; and cause damage to property.

“This was a wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the company to implement safe systems of work and identify the risks. Had the company identified the correct isolation point for the compressor and ensured that employees were sufficiently trained and supervised in the lock off procedures expected of them then this fatal incident would not have occurred.”

 

This is valid as of 15th July 2021.

 

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New regulator at heart of building safety overhaul

The Building Safety Bill has set out a clear pathway for the future on how residential buildings should be constructed and maintained, the government announced earlier this month.

The Bill was published on 5 July and aims to create ‘lasting generational change and set out a clear pathway for the future on how residential buildings should be constructed and maintained.’

The next key step, outlined by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, aims to give residents more power to hold builders and developers to account and toughening sanctions against those who threaten their safety is the next key step in an extensive overhaul to building safety legislation.

The Building Safety Regulator will oversee the new regime and will be responsible for ensuring that any building safety risks in new and existing high-rise residential buildings of 18m and above are effectively managed and resolved, taking cost into account.

This will include implementing specific gateway points at design, construction and completion phases to ensure that safety is considered at each and every stage of a building’s construction, and safety risks are considered at the earliest stage of the planning process.

 

Obligations

These changes will simplify the existing system to ensure high standards are continuously met, with a ‘golden thread’ of information created, stored and updated throughout the building’s lifecycle, establishing clear obligations on owners and enabling swift action to be taken by the regulator, wherever necessary.

The reforms will tackle bad practice head on, building on Dame Judith Hackitt’s review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, which highlighted a need for significant cultural and regulatory change.

Under the proposals, the government is more than doubling the amount of time that residents can seek compensation for substandard construction work – from 6 to 15 years.

The changes will apply retrospectively. This means that residents of a building completed in 2010 would be able to bring proceedings against the developer until 2025.

These reforms also include new measures that will apply to those seeking compensation for shoddy refurbishments which make the home unliveable.

These new measures in the Building Safety will aim to:

The Bill will include powers to strengthen the regulatory framework for construction products, underpinned by a market surveillance and enforcement regime led nationally by the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS).

The national regulator will be able to remove products from the market that present safety risks and prosecute or use civil penalties against any business that breaks the rules and compromises public safety.

 

Funding for remediation

The Bill also contains measures to protect leaseholders by providing a legal requirement for building owners to explore alternative ways to meet remediation costs before passing these onto leaseholders, along with evidence that this has been done.

This builds on the government’s commitment to fully fund the cost of replacing unsafe cladding for all leaseholders in residential buildings 18 metres and over in England, with an unprecedented £5 billion investment in building safety. This is alongside the introduction of a new levy and a tax to ensure that industry pays its fair share towards the costs of cladding remediation.

Developers will also be required to join and remain members of the New Homes Ombudsman scheme, which will require them to provide redress to a homebuyer, including through the awarding of compensation. Developers who breach the requirement to belong to the New Homes Ombudsman may receive additional sanctions.

 

This is valid as of 14th July 2021.

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Driver fatigue in European road transport

According to a study conducted by the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), fatigue among professional drivers is now the norm on European roads.

The ETF’s report, based on a survey of around 3,000 truck, bus and coach drivers, is the first EU-wide study in 15 years on driver fatigue in passenger and freight road transport. The findings include that 60% of truck drivers and 66% of bus and coach drivers have to drive while fatigued on a regular basis. Also, nearly one third of lorry drivers have reported falling asleep at the wheel while driving.

The ETF is calling on policymakers and employers to eliminate driver fatigue at the core of the EU road safety strategy, ensuring that professional drivers’ pay, working time and rest conditions are properly enforced.

The Driver Fatigue in European Road Transport report, published last month, warns, that driver fatigue could be a much greater problem than the research suggests.

There were two objectives to the study:

The researchers note that some drivers may not recognise the symptoms of fatigue and may not even be aware that they are fatigued until an accident happens.

“In drivers, it leads to a decrease in mental and physical functioning, which in turn leads to poor steering control, decreased reaction time, poor speed tracking and loss of attention and hazard perception,” the researchers note.

According to the latest data from the EU’s CARE database on road accidents, 4,002 people died in accidents involving trucks and 594 died in accidents involving buses or coaches in 2016.

Existing studies identify lack of sleep, poor quality sleep and specific sleep demands as factors that can cause driver fatigue. However, the ETF study argues that poor working and employment conditions are among the underlying reasons accounting for a shortage of sleep in the first place.

A major contributor to fatigue is the total extent of working time, the researchers argue. Bus, coach and truck drivers” work is characterised by long hours, which the researchers note leaves insufficient time for recuperation and restorative sleep.

The study revealed that 88% of surveyed truck drivers and 60% of bus and coach drivers had worked more than 40 hours per week. A significant proportion of those surveyed worked more than 50 hours per week.

The research also found that work pressure from employers or clients was identified as a significant contributor to fatigue. The researchers highlighted tight schedules and scheduling demands as particular issues as these often have a negative influence on breaks and rest times.

“Our research shows that a large share of drivers – especially bus and coach drivers – who, because of fatigue, have wanted to make an unplanned stop to take a break, have actually not been able to do so,” the researchers said.

The ETF’s recommendations include a number relating to employers’ responsibilities, notably the implementation of company-wide Fatigue Risk Management strategies from senior management level down.

These should include the provision of better equipment for vehicles, such as proper air conditioning, shift planning well in advance, and the reduction of physical labour for drivers as physically demanding work is one cause of fatigue.

The ETF is also calling for a reduction in the working hours for drivers and a reduction in the number of consecutive days that need to be worked.

“As our data analysis has shown, the way working time is documented has a bearing on fatigue; in companies where working hours are rigorously documented, drivers are less affected by fatigue,” the researchers note.

“Employers therefore need to ensure that all time spent on work-related tasks is counted as working time and is properly recorded (and paid for).”

In relation to rest time, the ETF recommends two measures – increasing the length of rest between shifts and ensuring that breaks are fully used to rest and relax.

“A very direct way in which employers can influence driver fatigue is to ensure reasonable work schedules that avoid or limit, night driving, inadequate daily rests and over-long work shifts,” the report notes.

The ETF also recommends that employers remove the pressure on drivers that arises from excessively tight schedules, most notably by reducing the number of just-in-time deliveries.

The researchers note that the existing regulatory framework does not solve the issue of driver fatigue. The report recommends strengthening the regulations and improving the enforcement of current rules through checks and sanctions.

 

This is valid as of 13th July 2021.

According to a study conducted by the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), fatigue among professional drivers is now the norm on European roads. The ETF’s report, based on a survey of around 3,000 truck, bus and coach drivers, is the first EU-wide study in 15 years on driver fatigue in passenger and freight road transport. The findings include that 60% of truck drivers and 66% of bus and coach drivers have to drive while fatigued on a regular basis. Also, nearly one third of lorry drivers have reported falling asleep at the wheel while driving. The ETF is calling on policymakers and employers to eliminate driver fatigue at the core of the EU road safety strategy, ensuring that professional drivers’ pay, working time and rest conditions are properly enforced. The Driver Fatigue in European Road Transport report, published last month, warns, that driver fatigue could be a much greater problem than the research suggests. There were two objectives to the study:
  • to describe the nature and extent of driver fatigue in the road passenger and freight transport sector in Europe
  • to examine the specific working conditions of professional drivers and how these conditions lead to endemic fatigue in the sector.
The researchers note that some drivers may not recognise the symptoms of fatigue and may not even be aware that they are fatigued until an accident happens. “In drivers, it leads to a decrease in mental and physical functioning, which in turn leads to poor steering control, decreased reaction time, poor speed tracking and loss of attention and hazard perception,” the researchers note. According to the latest data from the EU’s CARE database on road accidents, 4,002 people died in accidents involving trucks and 594 died in accidents involving buses or coaches in 2016. Existing studies identify lack of sleep, poor quality sleep and specific sleep demands as factors that can cause driver fatigue. However, the ETF study argues that poor working and employment conditions are among the underlying reasons accounting for a shortage of sleep in the first place. A major contributor to fatigue is the total extent of working time, the researchers argue. Bus, coach and truck drivers” work is characterised by long hours, which the researchers note leaves insufficient time for recuperation and restorative sleep. The study revealed that 88% of surveyed truck drivers and 60% of bus and coach drivers had worked more than 40 hours per week. A significant proportion of those surveyed worked more than 50 hours per week. The research also found that work pressure from employers or clients was identified as a significant contributor to fatigue. The researchers highlighted tight schedules and scheduling demands as particular issues as these often have a negative influence on breaks and rest times. “Our research shows that a large share of drivers – especially bus and coach drivers – who, because of fatigue, have wanted to make an unplanned stop to take a break, have actually not been able to do so,” the researchers said. The ETF’s recommendations include a number relating to employers’ responsibilities, notably the implementation of company-wide Fatigue Risk Management strategies from senior management level down. These should include the provision of better equipment for vehicles, such as proper air conditioning, shift planning well in advance, and the reduction of physical labour for drivers as physically demanding work is one cause of fatigue. The ETF is also calling for a reduction in the working hours for drivers and a reduction in the number of consecutive days that need to be worked. “As our data analysis has shown, the way working time is documented has a bearing on fatigue; in companies where working hours are rigorously documented, drivers are less affected by fatigue,” the researchers note. “Employers therefore need to ensure that all time spent on work-related tasks is counted as working time and is properly recorded (and paid for).” In relation to rest time, the ETF recommends two measures – increasing the length of rest between shifts and ensuring that breaks are fully used to rest and relax. “A very direct way in which employers can influence driver fatigue is to ensure reasonable work schedules that avoid or limit, night driving, inadequate daily rests and over-long work shifts,” the report notes. The ETF also recommends that employers remove the pressure on drivers that arises from excessively tight schedules, most notably by reducing the number of just-in-time deliveries. The researchers note that the existing regulatory framework does not solve the issue of driver fatigue. The report recommends strengthening the regulations and improving the enforcement of current rules through checks and sanctions.   This is valid as of 13th July 2021.

UK Safety Alert issued for angle grinder chainsaw disc attachment

The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) has issued a Safety Alert for a chainsaw disc attachment that has been incorrectly sold for use with angle grinders.

It says these attachments are not designed to be used together and are likely to cause loss of control which could result in serious injury or even fatality. Reports have been received of injuries arising from kickback caused by the chainsaw gripping the cutting surface and forcing the angle grinder to sharply turn or jump out of the hand of the operator.

Any consumers who have these angle grinder attachments in their possession are urged to stop using them immediately. They should contact the seller for redress if they believe the product was incorrectly marketed as compatible for use with an angle grinder.

OPSS is also telling any business that sells these chainsaw discs as attachments for angle grinders to remove them from the market immediately as they do not comply with the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008.

This Safety Alert is the result of a risk assessment carried out by OPSS following two previous risk alerts published by the Office in February, based on information from local regulators. OPSS is working with local authority Trading Standards to identify and take appropriate action against these chainsaw attachments.

OPSS Chief Executive Graham Russell said: OPSS has taken this important step because the chainsaw attachments are not designed to be used with angle grinders and could cause serious injury or even fatality.

This Safety Alert is the latest step taken by OPSS to help protect the UK public from unsafe products.

 

This is valid as of 12th July 2021.

The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) has issued a Safety Alert for a chainsaw disc attachment that has been incorrectly sold for use with angle grinders. It says these attachments are not designed to be used together and are likely to cause loss of control which could result in serious injury or even fatality. Reports have been received of injuries arising from kickback caused by the chainsaw gripping the cutting surface and forcing the angle grinder to sharply turn or jump out of the hand of the operator. Any consumers who have these angle grinder attachments in their possession are urged to stop using them immediately. They should contact the seller for redress if they believe the product was incorrectly marketed as compatible for use with an angle grinder. OPSS is also telling any business that sells these chainsaw discs as attachments for angle grinders to remove them from the market immediately as they do not comply with the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008. This Safety Alert is the result of a risk assessment carried out by OPSS following two previous risk alerts published by the Office in February, based on information from local regulators. OPSS is working with local authority Trading Standards to identify and take appropriate action against these chainsaw attachments. OPSS Chief Executive Graham Russell said: OPSS has taken this important step because the chainsaw attachments are not designed to be used with angle grinders and could cause serious injury or even fatality. This Safety Alert is the latest step taken by OPSS to help protect the UK public from unsafe products.   This is valid as of 12th July 2021.

Director sentenced for insufficient fire risk assessment

A company director has been sentenced, after pleading guilty to providing a fire risk assessment that was not suitable or sufficient.

Following the hearing at Southampton Crown Court on 1 June, the company providing the fire risk assessment for Cranleigh House, UK Fire Consulting Ltd (of which Mr Charles Morgan is a Director), was fined £20,000 with costs of £19,952.

The managing agent for the premises, Denfords Property Management had pleaded guilty at an earlier magistrates’ court hearing, of a failure to comply with an enforcement notice to provide a suitable fire risk assessment. They were fined £10,000 with £6,000 costs and the individual manager specifically responsible for the premises was given a conditional discharge and £1,800 costs.

As well as a £2,750 fine and a three-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months, company director Mr Morgan was ordered to pay costs of £19,952.

Prosecuting on behalf of the Fire Authority, Klentiana Mahmataj stated that Mr Morgan had not lifted ceiling tiles or even opened riser cupboard doors to check for fire safety risks at the three-storey block of fully occupied flats in Southampton.

During a visit to the block a Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service Fire Safety Inspector discovered electrical wiring penetrating the compartment walls.

Compartmentation is critical in a residential property with a ‘stay put’ policy, and at Cranleigh House there was also no apparent fire stopping added to holes in the walls, meaning that smoke or fire could travel into the communal escape routes to other parts of the building.

His Honour, Judge Burrell QC said: “The job of a fire risk assessor is a highly responsible one. Lives are in their hands and their judgement is crucial. It is not a job to be taken lightly.

“It is important to hold risk assessors to account and these are serious breaches. I find it odd that there exists no regulatory framework in regard to Fire Risk Assessors.”

Station Manager Dave Clements joined His Honour, Judge Burrell QC, in commending the HIWFRS Enforcement Support Team for their resilience and professionalism in bringing such a robust case that sent a clear message to those responsible for providing the fire safety of the residents of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

The Fire Safety Order places the onus on the Responsible Person to comply with the legislation. However, in this case, the managing agents for the Premises had placed their trust in the professionalism and competency of UKFC Ltd to complete the fire risk assessment to a satisfactory standard.

Speaking after the case Deputy Chief Fire Officer Steve Apter said: “Fire risk assessments underpin the whole process of building fire safety. Mr Morgan failed to inspect and identify fire safety deficiencies within the building and failed to note a compromised alarm and evacuation strategy for the residents. This shortfall meant that those responsible for implementing fire safety measures were unable to fulfil their legal obligations and placed occupants at risk of death or serious injury had a fire occurred.

“Mr Morgan elected to go to trial in the crown court and his legal team, Warren Spencer of Blackhurst Budd, submitted an abuse of process defence resulting in significant extra work for the prosecution team, extra legal argument hearings and resulting in additional costs to the public purse.

“We were confident that the case passed the evidential threshold and following the Judge’s comments that the abuse of process argument was “without merit”, it was pleasing that the Fire Authority’s cost application was met in full.”

 

This is valid as of 9th July 2021.

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Upcoming changes to REACH information requirements

The European Commission has revised certain information requirements for registering chemicals under REACH. The changes will start to apply in early 2022 and companies are advised to start preparing. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is to publish more advice in late 2021.

The update of the REACH annexes clarifies the information companies need to submit in their registrations and makes the ECHA’s evaluation practices more transparent and predictable.

The law comes into effect on 8 July 2021 and will apply from 8 January 2022.

The main changes concern the following:

ECHA is updating its guidance materials and will publish more advice to registrants towards the end of 2021.

 

This is valid as of 8th July 2021.

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Organisations urged to check free-standing furniture after boy is killed

A high school in Chelmsford has been fined after a young child died when a locker in a changing room fell on top of him.

On 23 May 2019, nine-year-old Leo Latifi was fatally injured when he attended an after-school swimming lesson at the sports centre of Great Baddow High School. The incident occurred whilst he and another young child had been waiting in the boy’s changing room for their lesson to start. The lockers, which had doors missing, stood prominently in the changing area provided a climbing frame to the children. As they climbed on the front of the unit it toppled forward. One child was able to jump free but tragically Leo could not and the locker fell on top of him.

The HSE’s investigation found that the locker unit, which was 180cm tall and weighed 188kg, had not been secured to the wall to prevent it from toppling over despite the unit having fixing brackets fitted as part of its structure. The court was told that several scenarios could have caused the unit to move including an adult stepping onto the lowest edge of the unit to pull at a bag stuck in a top tier locker or to clean the top the unit.

Great Baddow High School, Duffield Road, Chelmsford pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £16,700 with costs of £12,000.

After the hearing HSE inspector, Saffron Turnell, said: “This tragic incident led to the avoidable death of a young child which has, and will continue to, deeply affect his loving family, his friends and acquaintances.

“This incident could easily have been prevented had the school simply ensured the locker unit had been securely fixed to the wall, however it had failed to identify the risk associated with the potential for the unit to topple over and to put in place appropriate monitoring arrangements to ensure that it stayed secure.

“At the inquest into Leo’s death last year, the jury agreed that this tragedy was significantly contributed to by a lack of appropriate assessment to a clear and obvious risk. This remained the case for around six years.

“I therefore urge all organisations to urgently check that any free-standing furniture is appropriately assessed and properly secured, if they have not done so already.”

Leo’s family commented: “Nothing can bring back our precious Leo, and the prosecution hearing is yet another very difficult time when we will have to re-live what happened on the terrible day he died.

“Families must be sure that their children will be kept safe when they are at school, in the care of other adults and organisations. We can only hope that no one else has to suffer what we have endured these past two years since our Leo lost his life, and if the prosecution makes other schools more alert to their responsibilities in looking after equipment that could put children at risk, then that is all we can ask for right now.”

 

This is valid as of  7thJuly 2021.

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Offshore oil company fined for hydrocarbon release

Offshore oil company Apache has been sentenced after they failed to provide written safety procedures for the depressurisation of an oil well, which led to the release of more than 1000kg of hydrocarbon gas at their Beryl Alpha production installation in the North Sea.

On 2 June 2014, Apache had allocated a production technician to carry out a depressurisation task on one of their oil wells, which he had performed on previous occasions. However, they failed to provide him with any written safety procedures, expecting him to carry out this complex task from memory.

The Beryl Alpha rig has 40 well slots and some of its oil wells are gas-lifted to increase production efficiency. The use of gas lift means that there are large inventories of pressurised hydrocarbon gas, any uncontrolled release of these inventories is a potential major hazard event.

At approximately 19.40, four flammable gas detectors had detected gas in the area and automatically activated the platform water deluge system. The general platform alarm sounded, and all 134 workers went to their muster stations. The gas release continued, and the installation remained at muster station for more than six hours.

Investigating, the HSE found that deficiencies in Apache’s safety management system (SMS) lead to a release of more than 1000kg of hydrocarbon gas. They had failed to carry out a risk assessment for depressurising gas lift wells, which meant there was a lack of suitable written procedures. The use of a formalised written procedure by Apache would have ensured that this task was carried out correctly in a safe and consistent manner across all staff shifts, preventing the safety critical emergency shutdown system from being disabled during well depressurisation. The prolonged duration and magnitude of the release was a direct consequence of the inadvertent defeating of the emergency shutdown system in this instance.

Apache Beryl Limited of Caledonia House, Prime Four Business Park, Kingswells Causeway, Aberdeen pleaded guilty to breaching regulation nine of the Offshore Installations Prevention of Fire and Explosion, and Emergency Response Regulations 1995 (PFEER). They were fined £400,000.

Speaking after the hearing HSE principal inspector Dave Walker said: “Although the offshore industry has managed to reduce its overall number of hydrocarbon releases, it is still the case that in most years there are several, which are of such a size that if ignited would result in potentially catastrophic consequences.

“At more than 1000kg, Apache’s Beryl Alpha’s hydrocarbon release was the largest reported to HSE in 2014. It occurred during complex work on a well, which used a large volume of high-pressure gas to improve production rates, the hazardous nature of which had been highlighted in specific HSE guidance.

“The depressurisation of an oil well is a safety critical task, and so should have been formalised in a written procedure to set out a specified sequence of operations to perform the task correctly and prevent potential fatal consequences.”

 

This is valid as of 2nd July 2021.

Offshore oil company Apache has been sentenced after they failed to provide written safety procedures for the depressurisation of an oil well, which led to the release of more than 1000kg of hydrocarbon gas at their Beryl Alpha production installation in the North Sea. On 2 June 2014, Apache had allocated a production technician to carry out a depressurisation task on one of their oil wells, which he had performed on previous occasions. However, they failed to provide him with any written safety procedures, expecting him to carry out this complex task from memory. The Beryl Alpha rig has 40 well slots and some of its oil wells are gas-lifted to increase production efficiency. The use of gas lift means that there are large inventories of pressurised hydrocarbon gas, any uncontrolled release of these inventories is a potential major hazard event. At approximately 19.40, four flammable gas detectors had detected gas in the area and automatically activated the platform water deluge system. The general platform alarm sounded, and all 134 workers went to their muster stations. The gas release continued, and the installation remained at muster station for more than six hours. Investigating, the HSE found that deficiencies in Apache’s safety management system (SMS) lead to a release of more than 1000kg of hydrocarbon gas. They had failed to carry out a risk assessment for depressurising gas lift wells, which meant there was a lack of suitable written procedures. The use of a formalised written procedure by Apache would have ensured that this task was carried out correctly in a safe and consistent manner across all staff shifts, preventing the safety critical emergency shutdown system from being disabled during well depressurisation. The prolonged duration and magnitude of the release was a direct consequence of the inadvertent defeating of the emergency shutdown system in this instance. Apache Beryl Limited of Caledonia House, Prime Four Business Park, Kingswells Causeway, Aberdeen pleaded guilty to breaching regulation nine of the Offshore Installations Prevention of Fire and Explosion, and Emergency Response Regulations 1995 (PFEER). They were fined £400,000. Speaking after the hearing HSE principal inspector Dave Walker said: “Although the offshore industry has managed to reduce its overall number of hydrocarbon releases, it is still the case that in most years there are several, which are of such a size that if ignited would result in potentially catastrophic consequences. “At more than 1000kg, Apache’s Beryl Alpha’s hydrocarbon release was the largest reported to HSE in 2014. It occurred during complex work on a well, which used a large volume of high-pressure gas to improve production rates, the hazardous nature of which had been highlighted in specific HSE guidance. “The depressurisation of an oil well is a safety critical task, and so should have been formalised in a written procedure to set out a specified sequence of operations to perform the task correctly and prevent potential fatal consequences.”   This is valid as of 2nd July 2021.

£1.8m fine for British Airways PLC after employee seriously injured in vehicle collision

British Airways Plc has been fined following a vehicle collision at Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport.

On 16 March 2018, an employee was struck by a tug pulling a train of dollies (vehicles used to transport baggage around the airport). She was knocked under another passing tug with dollies loaded with luggage, sustaining serious crush injuries.

The HSE’s investigation found that the injured worker was using the centre of the roadway between the two lanes as a walking route and this unsafe practice had been commonplace in the baggage hall for at least ten years. Significant failings were also found in the general management of health and safety and workplace transport risks, including issues relating to supervision and monitoring, risk assessment and training.

British Airways PLC of Waterside, Harmondsworth, Greater London pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £1.8 million and ordered to pay costs of £35,724.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Megan Carr said: “The situation in the baggage hall at Heathrow Terminal 5 was an incident waiting to happen.

“British Airways failed to appreciate the serious nature of the risks to which its employees were exposed and as a result failed to take appropriate action to ensure they were properly protected.”

 

This is valid as of 1st July 2021.

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Scottish homeworkers struggle with work-life balance and excessive workloads

(Scotland)

The significant shift to homeworking as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed deep differences in job quality across the Scottish workforce, according to CIPD Scotland’s annual Working Lives Scotland report.

The report looks at the current state of work in Scotland by measuring five key dimensions of fair work: respect, security, opportunity, fulfilment and effective voice. It claims that homeworkers – just over half of all Scottish employees at the time of the survey – have seen some benefits, but also drawbacks to the changes in ways of working. While homeworkers, paradoxically, report better relationships at work and are more positive about employee voice compared with those not working from home at all, they report poorer work-life balance and excessive workloads.

Thirty seven per cent of those fully working from home say they find it hard to relax in their personal time because of their job, compared with 23% of those not working from home at all. 40% of those fully working from home report excessive workloads, compared with 31% for those not working from home at all.

While overall job quality in Scotland has surprisingly been unaffected by the pandemic, it continues to fall short on several key measures. The report highlights that concerns remain over issues like wellbeing, job autonomy and skills mismatch across the Scottish workforce. For example, it finds that 26% of employees feel their work impacts negatively on their mental health.

Alongside an analysis of five fair work dimensions, the CIPD’s report offers a timely exploration of job quality for key workers, homeworkers and those on furlough.

While the report suggests that those who can work from home would like to continue working from home at least some of the time, 43% of Scots are in jobs that can’t be done from home. It identifies persistent and significant gaps in flexible working availability – something that employers will need to address if they are to avoid creating a two-tier workforce of those who can and can’t work from home. Options like flexitime, job-sharing or compressed hours need to become available more widely.

Lee Ann Panglea, Head of CIPD Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: “The last 15 months have been extraordinary for all of us, but especially for the HR profession. Our profession has been front and centre of navigating huge people and organisational challenges across Scotland.”

“As we look towards the ‘new normal’, we must all learn the lessons from the pandemic and ensure that it is a catalyst for positive change. Employers need to keep wellbeing top of their agenda and should be considering flexible working options beyond homeworking, like flexi-time, job sharing or compressed hours if they want to retain and attract employees.

“Fair work and good people practice should be central to achieving inclusive growth and improving job quality and productivity for all employees and employers. Working Lives Scotland 2021 provides further evidence around some of the challenges, gaps, but also opportunities for progress.”

 

 

This is valid as of 30th June 2021.

Download the Home Working GuideWorking from home

As we learn to adjust to the "New Normal" navigating working from home, as this is new for many, will become a necessity. Support your workers at home and ensure they are following legal requirement by downloading this guide.

COVID-19: HSE continue with workplace spot checks

The UK Government has delayed the full lifting of COVID restrictions in England by four weeks, at Step 3 of the roadmap, amid rising infection rates as the new Delta COVID variant spreads.

After two weeks, the government will review the data to see if the risks have reduced. It is expected that England will move to Step 4 on 19 July. The Scottish and Welsh Governments are reviewing their planning for the lifting of restrictions, which may also be delayed.

The HSE advise that businesses need to continue to have COVID-secure measures in place that are in line with the latest Government guidance. Currently, workers should continue to work from home if possible.

It is stressed that, at this stage, it is vital that businesses do not become complacent and that they continue to have measures in place to manage the risk from Coronavirus and ensure workers are following them.

The HSE is working with local authorities to carry out spot checks and inspections on businesses. These are taking place in all areas, to check that businesses have COVID-secure measures in place to keep workers, visitors and customers safe.

 

What happens during spot checks and inspections?

The HSE calls and visits businesses to check the COVID-secure measures they have in place and provides guidance and advice if required. Where businesses aren’t managing the risk, action will be taken. This can range from the provision of specific advice, issuing enforcement notices and stopping certain work practices until they are made safe. Where businesses fail to comply, this could lead to prosecution.

Angela Storey, Director of Transformation and Operational Services at HSE, said: “The UK government has confirmed a four-week delay to the lifting of restrictions, as the Delta strain of Covid-19 becomes the dominant variant in England, with infection numbers rising across Britain.

“Whilst we recognise that this news will come as a disappointment to a number of businesses, especially those in the hospitality sector, businesses must continue to have measures in place to manage the risks, to help protect the health of local communities as well as to support the local and national UK economy.

“We will also continue to work with local authorities, checking that businesses have COVID-secure measures in place, and providing guidance and advice where needed.

“As we continue to carry out spot checks and inspections our support of cross-government work remains. We are committed to helping employers and employees as they work through the pandemic.

“All workplaces are in scope for spot checks which means businesses of any size, in any sector can receive an unannounced call or visit to check they are COVID-secure.”

 

This is valid as of 29th June 2021.

How to support your employee's mental health during COVID-19

Mental health blue Monday The "New Normal" has been a hard adjustment for us all and forced us into new situations. If you notice that some of your employees are struggling but don't know where to start, then watch our free webinar. Our speakers will provide you with some key action points that you can use that not only help in the short-term but will be beneficial in the future.