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Northamptonshire firms fined for asbestos failings

December 22, 2014

Two Northamptonshire firms have been fined after a routine safety inspection revealed serious asbestos-related failings.

Northampton Magistrates’ Court heard today (22 Dec) that Lifting Systems Ltd had contracted Durasteel Services Ltd to refurbish an asbestos cement roof at its Crown Works in Far Cotton.

When inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) visited the site on 22 October 2013 to check the work they found asbestos insulation board had been removed and stored on the premises, and that debris had been placed in waste skips around the site.

A Prohibition Notice was served to immediately stop any further work.

A subsequent investigation found that although Lifting Systems Ltd was the client, the company had undertaken a lot of the refurbishment work, including the removal of the majority of old asbestos cement roofing panels. It did not have an up to date asbestos register and did not carry out an asbestos demolition and refurbishment survey, which would have highlighted areas of asbestos to be considered during the refurbishment.

Durasteel Services Ltd failed to carry out an asbestos assessment to identify the potential for asbestos to be disturbed and put effective control measures in place.

The court was told that neither company had a licence to remove asbestos.

Lifting Systems Ltd, of Crown Works, Main Road, Far Cotton, Northampton, was fined a total of £14,000 and ordered to pay £523 in costs after pleading guilty to three breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

Durasteel Services Ltd, of Kingsfield Way, Kingsfield Heath Industrial Estate, Northampton, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £523 after admitting one breach of the same regulations.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Sam Russell said:

“This case highlights the importance of businesses having strong policies to enable identification of asbestos as part of their normal working practices. The refurbishment work started three months before HSE visited the site, so the risks from asbestos had not been controlled for some time.

“Lifting Systems Ltd made little effort to survey or identify asbestos in the premises before starting work, so failed to identify the presence of asbestos insulation board lining panels underneath the asbestos roofing sheets. The panels were broken up and placed in skips, putting construction workers and other employees at risk of exposure to carcinogenic asbestos fibres. An asbestos survey had been carried out by the previous owners of the premises and highlighted the asbestos which was removed. However, the premises had been derelict for a period of time and the infrastructure had been damaged and vandalised meaning the old survey was not current and fit for purpose and a new one was required.

“Durasteel Services Ltd was complicit in the removal of asbestos insulation board during the refurbishment. The company should have conducted an assessment to see if any work it undertook would have the potential to disturb asbestos materials and taken appropriate action to introduce control measures.”

On average, 20 tradespeople die each week from asbestos-related diseases. Free, practical advice on working with asbestos is available on the HSE’s web app at http://www.beware-asbestos.info/

Fair ride owner fined after woman hit by falling handrail

December 16, 2014

A fair ride owner has been prosecuted after a woman was hit on the head by a falling handrail.

The member of public, who does not want to be identified, required stitches to a head wound and suffered pain in her back and shoulders as a result of the incident at Goose Fair in Nottingham on 6 October 2012.

The handrail fell from the Top Buzz 2 ride as she stood alongside it. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the brackets fitting the handrails to the ride walkway were extensively corroded, which caused the bracket to fail and the rail to fall from a height of between one and a half and two and a half metres.

Twenty-eight of the remaining 30 fixings for the rest of the handrail were corroded, cracked or buckled.

Nottingham Magistrates’ Court was told that ride operator Alex Crow Leisure Ltd should have identified the issue during regular inspections of the ride.

Alex Crow Leisure Ltd of High Street, Northallerton, Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5 (1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined £20,000 with £4,016 costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Edward Walker said:

“The incident was entirely preventable. The corrosion had clearly developed over an extended period of time and Alex Crow Leisure should have spotted this during regular inspections of the ride, particularly when setting it up or taking it down at different locations.

“This would have enabled remedial action to be taken and a member of the public could have been spared a painful injury.”

Kent firm and director in court over ‘appalling’ site safety

December 10, 2014

A Kent construction company and its managing director have been prosecuted after both displayed a ‘shocking disregard’ for workers’ safety at a demolition site in Surrey.

The workers at the site were exposed to ‘appalling risks’ of falling from an unprotected roof and from the presence of dangerous asbestos material.

Conditions at the site in Chobham Road, Woking, were spotted by a passing Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector, who immediately served a prohibition notice halting the work going on at roof level.

An investigation followed and a prosecution brought against Daniel Lautier and his firm, ICG Construction Management Services Ltd, both of Sevenoaks in Kent, for numerous safety breaches.

Redhill Magistrates were (9 Dec) told that the HSE inspector had been driving past on 5 June 2014 when he saw the two-storey, part-demolished house. On top of it, standing at the edges of where a pitched room had been, were three workers. There was no edge protection or fall prevention measures in place despite the dangers to the men of a six to seven metres’ fall.

Roof tiles and masonry had been thrown from the structure as it was being demolished. HSE served a further prohibition notice to ensure that an asbestos survey was carried out prior to any further demolition taking place.

Asbestos was found on site and had it not been removed could have caused serious long-term and irreversible ill health to on-site workers and passers-by who may have been exposed the dust from its demolition. HSE also required a demolition plan to be drawn up, and for workers to halt the uncontrolled and unsafe throwing of building materials to ground level.

HSE’s investigation found a catalogue of failures on the part of Mr Lautier and ICG Construction Services: –

  • there was no proper system of work drawn up for the demolition of the property, which belonged to Mr Lautier;
  • men were working at a dangerous height with no safety measures to protect them from falls;
  • demolition was ad-hoc and work bore little resemblance to accepted practice in the industry;
  • there was inadequate supervision and planning;
  • welfare facilities on site at one point were non-existent.

Daniel Lautier of Harrison Way, Sevenoaks, Kent, admitted two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and his firm, ICG Construction Services, pleaded guilty to one breach of the same Act and a further breach of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. Lautier was fined a total of £3,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,044. No separate penalty was imposed for his company.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Russell Beckett, who investigated, said:

“The disregard for health and safety shown by Daniel Lautier and ICG was shocking and exposed workers and others to appalling risks.

“The management of health and safety was non-existent even at the most basic level. There were so many failures on site. Many were obvious but all contributed to making the site one of most inadequate and unprofessional I have ever seen.

“Demolition of a property requires planning and that includes a demolition survey to establish whether asbestos is present. The demolition industry has vastly improved its health and safety record but Mr Lautier decided to cut corners and to try to do it himself. If this demolition had been simply carried out using an excavator machine then there would have been very few risks involved.”

For information and advice on safe demolition practices, visit http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/demolition.htm

Recreational diving projects

December 8, 2014

Diving at Work Regulations 1997. Approved Code of Practice and guidance

This Approved Code of Practice and associated guidance provides practical advice and sets out what you have to do to comply with the requirements of the Diving at Work Regulations 1997.

It applies to all recreational diving projects within the 12-mile limit of territorial waters adjacent to Great Britain and applies to diving projects where:

  • at least one person taking part in the project is employed or self-employed and at work;
  • the equipment and techniques are confined to free swimming using SCUBA; and
  • the purpose of the project is recreational diving, that is diving carried out by a person for recreational purposes while not at work.

The document covers both the instruction and guiding of people diving for recreational purposes where at least one person taking part is at work, for example as an instructor. It also covers recreational journalists undertaking commissions and producing articles, including stills photography, for the recreational diving press only.

It does not cover recreational diving activities, including instruction or guiding of recreational divers, where no one is at work.

This edition of the Approved Code of Practice has been revised in order to simplify some of the information, update the references and provide greater consistency across all of the Codes of Practice covering diving at work. This document has also been updated to reflect changes in technology and industry practice. The most significant changes relate to:

  • Availability of compression chambers. This has been updated to address the provision of sufficient oxygen for the transport of an injured diver to a compression chamber or hospital. The requirement for the recording of the location and contact number of the nearest operational chamber in the Diving Project Plan has also been removed.
  • Fitness to dive. Further information has been provided for divers regarding medical treatment, medical conditions or medication being taken, that may make them unfit to dive.

Media diving projects

December 8, 2014

Diving at Work Regulations 1997. Approved Code of Practice and guidance

This Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) and associated guidance provides practical advice and sets out what you have to do to comply with the requirements of the Diving at Work Regulations 1997.

It applies to all media divers and diving projects within the United Kingdom waters adjacent to Great Britain (generally 12 nautical miles from the low water line).

The term ‘media diver’ includes:

  • stunt people;
  • journalists;
  • presenters;
  • photographers;
  • camera operators and sound and lighting technicians; and
  • the unit crew required to dive in support of underwater media work.

The term does not include divers used in the preparation of underwater locations that require engineering and construction skills or the handling or use of explosives. This would be covered by HSE’s Inland/Inshore ACOP (L104).
This edition of the ACOP has been revised in order to simplify some of the information, update the references and provide greater consistency across all of the Codes of Practice covering diving at work. This document has also been updated to reflect changes in technology and industry practice. The most significant changes relate to:

 

  • Availability of compression chambers.
    This change is to reflect medical advice and research into time to treatment for decompression illness.
  • Fitness to dive.
    Further information has been provided for divers regarding medical treatment, medical conditions or medication being taken that may make them unfit to dive.
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