Firm failed to protect against electrical safety risks

A car wash firm in Devon has been fined £40,000 after it repeatedly failed to protect workers and members of the public from electrical safety risks.

HSE Investigators carried out multiple visits to Best Car Wash Ltd in Tavistock between July 2021 and November 2022. They found employees were carrying out car washing outdoors, using electrical appliances such as pressure washers and vacuum cleaners. However, the company had failed to ensure the installation had been constructed or maintained to prevent danger to both the employees and members of the public. As a result of the electrical hazards identified, the company was issued with five enforcement notices.

Despite the notices, subsequent visits found they had not been complied with and it wasn’t until April 2023 that a competent person inspected, tested and repaired the installation.

The HSE investigation found the failure of the employer to comply with the initial notice resulted in electrical safety risks to the vulnerable workers persisting for longer.

Best Car Wash Ltd of Plymouth Road, Tavistock, Devon did not provide representation at Plymouth Magistrates’ Court and were found guilty in their absence of breaching Section 3(1) of the Electricity at Work Regs and Reg 33 (1)(g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

They were fined £40,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,164 on 6 June 2024.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Principal Inspector Helena Allum said: “We can and will prosecute if companies fail to comply with enforcement notices.

“Those in control of work have a responsibility to ensure safe methods of working. The dangers associated with electricity in a work environment are well known and a wealth of advice and guidance is freely available from HSE.”

This is valid as of the 17th June 2024.

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Construction company fined £2.345m after worker drowned

A construction company has been fined following the death of a worker. Gary Webster lost his life two days after drowning in the River Aire on 30 October 2017.

Mr Webster and another worker had been on a boat removing debris at the bottom of the weir gates at Knostrop Weir when their boat capsized. The boat had been pulled into turbulent water, caused by the considerable flow of water flowing over the top of the weir.

The 60-year-old was repeatedly pulled under the water and was eventually recovered by a diver 14 minutes later. The other worker managed to swim to safety.

Mr Webster was pronounced dead on 1 November 2017 at Leeds General Infirmary.

Investigating, the HSE found BAM Nuttall Ltd had several operatives who were trained and authorised to control the weir gates so that the flow of the water could be slowed down. This would have allowed the debris to float away or be reached safely by boat. However, the company failed to carry out this task.

BAM Nuttall Limited, of Knoll Road, Camberley, Surrey, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £2.345 million and ordered to pay £25,770.48 in costs.

HSE inspector Jayne Towey said: “BAM Nuttall Ltd failed to plan the work. It failed to carry out any assessment of the risks involved with the task. It failed to have any regard to the recognised hierarchy of controls to reduce the risk associated with removing debris from the water. It failed to ensure that suitable safety measures were in place and failed to put in place a safe system of work.

“This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.”

This prosecution was brought by HSE enforcement lawyer Jonathan Bambro and supported by HSE paralegal officer Sarah Thomas.

This is valid as of the 17th June 2024.

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Recycling company fined after workers exposed to wood dust

The long-term health of workers at a wood waste recycling centre was put in danger due to excessive exposure to the dust their work created, a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution has found.

Esken Renewables Limited, a waste and recycling company that specialises in generating biofuel from renewable waste, ran a wood waste recycling centre in Middlesborough that processed mixed wood waste, hardwood, and softwood into biofuel.

Breathing in wood dust excessively can cause asthma and nasal cancer. In particular, dust from softwood wood dust is a known asthmagen while particles from hardwood are a known carcinogen.

A HSE inspector visited the site in April 2022 to investigate the dust exposures on the site. A few weeks earlier, concerns had been raised about wood dust spreading to the surrounding area. The inspector wrote in detail to Esken Renewables with evidence demonstrating the extent of the wood dust exposure to staff, so that the right action could be taken by the company to control the risks.

The company provided a detailed response, and it was accepted that exposures to the surrounding area was in large part due to four storms in quick succession.

However, the HSE investigation found that the control of wood dust to protect employees working on and around the site was not adequate and fell short of the expected benchmark.

The company failed to design and operate processes and activities to minimise emission, release, and spread of wood dust. One solution would be through the use of local exhaust ventilation, the enclosure of machinery, or the designing of the processes such as using vacuum systems as opposed to compressed air for cleaning and maintenance.

Esken Renewables Limited, who operated the site at Port Clarence Road, Port Clarence, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty of breaching Regulation 7(1) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 and were fined £160,000 and ordered to pay £5,310.35 in costs at Teesside Magistrates’ Court on 23 May 2024.

This is valid as of the 3rd June 2024.

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Waste operators who caused fires that raged for days are sentenced

Waste operators who repeatedly ignored Environment Agency advice that their sites posed a persistent fire-risk, before fires broke out that burned for days, have been sentenced.

Punishment included prison sentences spanning 6.5 years and fines totalling more than £103,000.

The six defendants appeared for sentencing at Teesside crown court for multiple environmental offences spanning across three sites:

  • Greenology (Liverton) Ltd at Liverton, near Loftus – involving its director Laura Hepburn, 44, of Stonebridgegate, Ripon, and manager Jonathan Guy Brudenell, 54, of no fixed address. Waste storage issues at this site culminated in a fire that happened in April 2020. Selective Environmental Solutions Ltd (SESL) and its director Jonathan Waldron, 42, of Winton in Northallerton, operated on this site with Brudenell prior to Greenology taking over, and also illegally deposited waste at a farm near Whitby.
  • Old Eldon Brickworks in Eldon, Bishop Auckland – involving Waldron, as a director of Falcons Two Ltd, who failed to comply with an enforcement notice and kept waste in a manner likely to cause pollution. This led to a major fire at the site in August 2020.
  • Greenology (Teesside) Ltd at Sotheby Road, Skippers Lane Industrial Estate in Middlesbrough – Hepburn, as director of this separate company, was sentenced for offences in 2021 and 2022 relating to the illegal storage of waste tyres.

The court heard the defendants repeatedly ignored Environment Agency advice about the storage and management of waste and the significant fire risk posed by all three sites.

Also, in an apparent attempt to preserve the reputation of the Greenology name, when notified in 2021 of the prosecution for the Liverton site, Laura Hepburn changed the company name to LM South Yorkshire Ltd.

The defendants were sentenced as follows:

  • Brudenell was jailed for two years and 10 months.
  • Hepburn was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years, with 150 hours of unpaid work in the community.
  • Waldron was sentenced to 20 months in prison, suspended for two years with requirements of probation supervision, rehabilitation, and 150 hours of unpaid work in the community. He was also ordered to pay £9,000 in costs.
  • Greenology (Liverton) was fined £69,000.
  • Greenology (Teesside) was fined £20,000.
  • SESL was fined £14,666.66.

The court was told that SESL first operated at the Liverton site between December 2018 and February 2019 with Waldron as director, Brudenell in a managerial role and Hepburn also involved. SESL registered several waste exemptions, which allow low-level waste activity that does not require an environmental permit.

In January 2019, the Environment Agency started investigating SESL as it was immediately in breach of its waste exemption storage limit of 500 tonnes.

But after a fall out between the defendants, Hepburn set up Greenology (Liverton) Ltd, which took over the site in February 2019. Throughout this period, Brudenell continued in a management role, all the time using the false name Guy Barker, a fact known by Hepburn.

Waste on site continued to increase, with the Environment Agency warning about the amount of waste and the fire-risk it posed and taking subsequent enforcement action to have it cleared from the site. Whilst the site was largely cleared, by late 2019, it had quickly been refilled with waste plastic.

On 5 April 2020, a major fire broke out which quickly spread through the baled plastic waste and the building and destroyed the site. The fire burned for nine days, hugely impacting local residents who couldn’t be evacuated because of the COVID-19 national lockdown.

By helping to run both SESL and Greenology (Liverton), Brudenell was breaching a bankruptcy restriction order that prohibited him from running a company and had been imposed as a result of multiple fraud offences.

Hepburn was also director of Greenology (Teesside) Ltd, which she set up in February 2020, and dealt mainly with waste tyres. An Environment Agency inspection in June 2021 revealed the number of tyres exceeded the limit of the site’s waste exemption and posed a significant fire risk.

She repeatedly claimed that the business was going to build a pyrolysis plant, for recycling end of life tyres, and had obtained a permit from Middlesbrough Borough Council for this. However, despite obtaining large sums from business partners no pyrolysis plant was ever built, and the site continually handled excessive volumes of waste tyres which threatened to damage the environment.

In a separate case, in February 2020 Falcons Two Ltd took over the operation of the Old Brickworks at Eldon, Bishop Auckland, with Waldron as one of its directors and the person with waste management knowledge.

But the site was never in compliance with its environmental permit and was continually storing excessive volumes of waste causing a major fire risk.

Following inspections of the site, the Environment Agency told Waldron to take remedial action to bring the site back into compliance given the risk of a significant environmental incident due to multiple failures of the site’s fire prevention plan.

It also issued an enforcement notice requiring the site to remove waste and create fire breaks, which was breached just before the major fire broke out in August 2020. This fire also burned for many days and was challenging for the fire service due to the sheer volume of waste involved.

This is valid as of the 29th May 2024.

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Home care agency found to have failed to protect workers against violence following nurse’s death

(United States) A federal workplace safety investigation following the death of a licensed practical nurse during an 28 October 2023, home visit in Willimantic, Connecticut, found one of the nation’s largest home-based care providers did not provide adequate safeguards to protect the nurse, Joyce Grayson, and other employees from the dangers of workplace violence.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) determined that on or about 28 October 2023, and at times prior, Elara Caring exposed home healthcare employees to workplace violence from patients who exhibited aggressive behavior and were known to pose a risk to others.

Following its investigation, OSHA cited Jordan Health Care Inc. and New England Home Care Inc., both doing business as Elara Caring, for one willful violation under the agency’s general duty clause. OSHA cited the employer for not developing and implementing adequate measures to protect employees from the ongoing serious hazard of workplace violence. The agency also cited the employer for one other-than-serious violation for not providing work-related injury and illness records to OSHA within four business hours, as required.

Elara Caring faces $163,627 in proposed penalties.

OSHA also found that Elara Caring could have reduced the hazard of workplace violence by, among other ways, performing root cause analyses on incidents of violence and near misses, providing clinicians with comprehensive background information on patients prior to home visits, providing emergency panic alert buttons to clinicians, and developing procedures for the use of safety escorts for visits to patients with high-risk behaviors.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

This is valid as of the 13th May 2024.

(United States) A federal workplace safety investigation following the death of a licensed practical nurse during an 28 October 2023, home visit in Willimantic, Connecticut, found one of the nation’s largest home-based care providers did not provide adequate safeguards to protect the nurse, Joyce Grayson, and other employees from the dangers of workplace violence.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) determined that on or about 28 October 2023, and at times prior, Elara Caring exposed home healthcare employees to workplace violence from patients who exhibited aggressive behavior and were known to pose a risk to others.

Following its investigation, OSHA cited Jordan Health Care Inc. and New England Home Care Inc., both doing business as Elara Caring, for one willful violation under the agency’s general duty clause. OSHA cited the employer for not developing and implementing adequate measures to protect employees from the ongoing serious hazard of workplace violence. The agency also cited the employer for one other-than-serious violation for not providing work-related injury and illness records to OSHA within four business hours, as required.

Elara Caring faces $163,627 in proposed penalties.

OSHA also found that Elara Caring could have reduced the hazard of workplace violence by, among other ways, performing root cause analyses on incidents of violence and near misses, providing clinicians with comprehensive background information on patients prior to home visits, providing emergency panic alert buttons to clinicians, and developing procedures for the use of safety escorts for visits to patients with high-risk behaviors.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

This is valid as of the 13th May 2024.

Contractor fined after young carpenter dies

A carpentry contractor has been fined after a 22-year-old man died after he was struck by construction equipment on a building site.

On 30 October 2019, Niall McCormack from Kettering, Northamptonshire had been working for KM Carpentry Contractors Limited installing roof trusses at a new build site at Alconbury Weald, Cambridgeshire.

Both the truss packs and party wall spandrel panel had been lifted by crane onto a pair of semi-detached properties the day before the incident – temporarily supported by timber restraints.

Mr McCormack was working with another carpenter to remove trusses from the pack, to then spread and install across the building. As the two carpenters were in the process of spreading, the wind caught a spandrel panel, pushing it against the remaining trusses in the pack. Both the truss pack and spandrel panel fell into the work area. Niall McCormack was struck by the falling material and suffered a fatal head injury.

The HSE’s investigation found that KM Carpentry Contractors Limited had failed to identify the risk of wind loading, and the effect this could have on the stability of the spandrel panel prior to being secured in place. The method statement for the installation of the spandrel panels included lifting and placing them on the roof only after the roof trusses had been installed and permanently secured. This could not be followed as they had both been placed on the roof at the same time as the roof trusses the day before.

KM Carpentry Contractors Limited, of High Street, Higham Ferrers pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act and was fined £8,000 with costs of £6,974.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Jenny Morris said: “Our thoughts are with Niall’s family, a 22-year-old who was just setting out on his career in the construction industry.

“This case highlights the importance of identifying the risks associated with a work activity and ensuring a safe system of work is devised and then followed.”

A family statement said: “The whole family has been badly affected by Niall’s loss. One of his friends is going to Australia and we can’t help thinking Niall should be here and going with him.

“Niall has lost the ability to grow up and have children of his own. He won’t be getting married and all the things you do as families. He’s missed out on so much, for what, going to work. No one should go to work and not come back.”

The prosecution was brought by HSE enforcement lawyer Samantha Wells and paralegal officer Lucy Gallagher.

This is valid as of the 13th May 2024.

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Fine of £1.2m for vehicle and pedestrian control failures

A Yorkshire metals recycling company has been fined £1.2m after a worker was injured after being struck by a wagon at a processing site.

On 10 August 2020 an employee of CF Booth Limited was walking across the site yard in Rotherham when he was struck by a moving 32-tonne skip wagon. The man was not wearing his hi-vis jacket and did not see the wagon approaching. The wagon driver did not see the employee prior to the collision due to concentrating on manoeuvring the vehicle around some low-level skips which had been placed on the corner near where the employee was crossing the yard.

Following the incident, the man sustained a fractured skull and also fractured his collar bone in two places. He has since made a full recovery.

Investigating, the HSE found that at the time of the incident the site was not organised in such a way that pedestrians and vehicles could circulate safely. The investigation revealed:

  • A suitable and sufficient workplace transport risk assessment was not in place for the segregation of vehicles and pedestrians.
  • The company had failed to take steps to properly assess the risks posed by the movement of vehicles and pedestrians.

The incident could have been prevented by adequately assessing the risks and implementing appropriate control measures such as physical barriers and crossing points.

CF Booth Limited of Clarence Metal Works, Armer St, Rotherham, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. They were fined £1.2million and ordered to pay costs of £5,694.85.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Kirstie Durrans said: “If CF Booth Limited had assessed the risks and ensured vehicles and pedestrians could circulate in a safe manner, this incident could have easily been avoided.”

This HSE prosecution was brought by HSE enforcement lawyers Karen Park and Kate Harney, and supported by paralegal officer Rebecca Forman.

This is valid as of the 7th May 2024.

A Yorkshire metals recycling company has been fined £1.2m after a worker was injured after being struck by a wagon at a processing site.

On 10 August 2020 an employee of CF Booth Limited was walking across the site yard in Rotherham when he was struck by a moving 32-tonne skip wagon. The man was not wearing his hi-vis jacket and did not see the wagon approaching. The wagon driver did not see the employee prior to the collision due to concentrating on manoeuvring the vehicle around some low-level skips which had been placed on the corner near where the employee was crossing the yard.

Following the incident, the man sustained a fractured skull and also fractured his collar bone in two places. He has since made a full recovery.

Investigating, the HSE found that at the time of the incident the site was not organised in such a way that pedestrians and vehicles could circulate safely. The investigation revealed:

  • A suitable and sufficient workplace transport risk assessment was not in place for the segregation of vehicles and pedestrians.
  • The company had failed to take steps to properly assess the risks posed by the movement of vehicles and pedestrians.

The incident could have been prevented by adequately assessing the risks and implementing appropriate control measures such as physical barriers and crossing points.

CF Booth Limited of Clarence Metal Works, Armer St, Rotherham, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. They were fined £1.2million and ordered to pay costs of £5,694.85.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Kirstie Durrans said: “If CF Booth Limited had assessed the risks and ensured vehicles and pedestrians could circulate in a safe manner, this incident could have easily been avoided.”

This HSE prosecution was brought by HSE enforcement lawyers Karen Park and Kate Harney, and supported by paralegal officer Rebecca Forman.

This is valid as of the 7th May 2024.

Jury finds that railway contributed to two deaths in Montana town where asbestos sickened thousands

(United States) A federal jury has said that BNSF Railway contributed to the deaths of two people who were exposed to asbestos decades ago when tainted mining material was shipped through a Montana town where thousands have been sickened.

The jury awarded $4 million each in compensatory damages to the estates of the two plaintiffs, who died in 2020. Jurors said asbestos-contaminated vermiculite that spilled in the rail yard in the town of Libby, Montana was a substantial factor in the plaintiffs’ illnesses and deaths.

The vermiculite from Libby has high concentrations of naturally-occurring asbestos and was used in insulation and for other commercial purposes in homes and businesses across the U.S.

After being mined from a mountaintop outside town, it was loaded onto rail cars that sometimes spilled the material in the Libby rail yard. Residents have described piles of vermiculite being stored in the yard and dust from the facility blowing through downtown Libby.

The jury did not find that BNSF acted intentionally or with indifference so no punitive damages were awarded. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. acquired BNSF in 2010, two decades after the W.R. Grace and Co. vermiculite mine near Libby shut down and stopped shipping the contaminated mineral.

The estates of the two victims argued that the railroad knew the asbestos-tainted vermiculite was dangerous and failed to clean it up. Both lived near the rail yard decades ago and died from mesothelioma, a rare lung cancer linked to asbestos exposure.

The pollution in Libby has been cleaned up, largely at public expense. W.R. Grace, which played a central role in the town’s tragedy, filed for bankruptcy in 2001 and paid $1.8 billion into an asbestos trust fund to settle future cases.

Yet the long timeframe over which asbestos-related diseases develop means people previously exposed are likely to continue getting sick for years to come, health officials say.

The case in federal civil court over the two deaths was the first of numerous lawsuits against the Texas-based railroad corporation to reach trial over its past operations in Libby. Current and former residents of the town near the U.S.-Canada border want BNSF held accountable, accusing it of playing a role in asbestos exposure that health officials say has killed several hundred people and sickened thousands.

The railroad was considering whether to appeal, said a BNSF spokesperson.

Federal prosecutors in 2005 indicted W. R. Grace and executives from the company on criminal charges over the contamination in Libby. A jury acquitted them following a 2009 trial.

The Environmental Protection Agency descended on Libby after 1999 news reports of illnesses and deaths among mine workers and their families. In 2009 the agency declared in Libby the nation’s first ever public health emergency under the federal Superfund cleanup programme.

A second trial against the railroad over the death of a Libby resident is scheduled for May in federal court in Missoula.

This is valid as of the 29th April 2024.

(United States) A federal jury has said that BNSF Railway contributed to the deaths of two people who were exposed to asbestos decades ago when tainted mining material was shipped through a Montana town where thousands have been sickened.

The jury awarded $4 million each in compensatory damages to the estates of the two plaintiffs, who died in 2020. Jurors said asbestos-contaminated vermiculite that spilled in the rail yard in the town of Libby, Montana was a substantial factor in the plaintiffs’ illnesses and deaths.

The vermiculite from Libby has high concentrations of naturally-occurring asbestos and was used in insulation and for other commercial purposes in homes and businesses across the U.S.

After being mined from a mountaintop outside town, it was loaded onto rail cars that sometimes spilled the material in the Libby rail yard. Residents have described piles of vermiculite being stored in the yard and dust from the facility blowing through downtown Libby.

The jury did not find that BNSF acted intentionally or with indifference so no punitive damages were awarded. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. acquired BNSF in 2010, two decades after the W.R. Grace and Co. vermiculite mine near Libby shut down and stopped shipping the contaminated mineral.

The estates of the two victims argued that the railroad knew the asbestos-tainted vermiculite was dangerous and failed to clean it up. Both lived near the rail yard decades ago and died from mesothelioma, a rare lung cancer linked to asbestos exposure.

The pollution in Libby has been cleaned up, largely at public expense. W.R. Grace, which played a central role in the town’s tragedy, filed for bankruptcy in 2001 and paid $1.8 billion into an asbestos trust fund to settle future cases.

Yet the long timeframe over which asbestos-related diseases develop means people previously exposed are likely to continue getting sick for years to come, health officials say.

The case in federal civil court over the two deaths was the first of numerous lawsuits against the Texas-based railroad corporation to reach trial over its past operations in Libby. Current and former residents of the town near the U.S.-Canada border want BNSF held accountable, accusing it of playing a role in asbestos exposure that health officials say has killed several hundred people and sickened thousands.

The railroad was considering whether to appeal, said a BNSF spokesperson.

Federal prosecutors in 2005 indicted W. R. Grace and executives from the company on criminal charges over the contamination in Libby. A jury acquitted them following a 2009 trial.

The Environmental Protection Agency descended on Libby after 1999 news reports of illnesses and deaths among mine workers and their families. In 2009 the agency declared in Libby the nation’s first ever public health emergency under the federal Superfund cleanup programme.

A second trial against the railroad over the death of a Libby resident is scheduled for May in federal court in Missoula.

This is valid as of the 29th April 2024.

Tank truck manufacturer and director fined a combined $680,000 after workers fatally injured

[Canada] Following a guilty plea in the Ontario Court of Justice in Ottawa, Eastway Tank, Pump and Meter Limited has been fined $600,000, while company director Neil Greene was fined $80,000, over the death of six workers in an explosion which occurred in January 2022.

Eastway Tank, Pump and Meter Limited was found to have failed to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of workers, contrary to section 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The company also failed to provide adequate information, instruction, and supervision to workers to protect their health and safety, contrary to section 25(2)(a) of the Act. Neil Greene failed to take all reasonable care to ensure that the corporation complied with section 25(2)(h) of the Act, contrary to section 32 of the Act. The Court also imposed a 25% victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act.

The Court heard how, on 13 January 2022, workers inside the company’s fabrication shop performed a wet test on a newly built tank truck to check for leakage. This entailed running diesel test fuel through different compartments of the tank and other truck components.

This was a routine operation at the workplace. Workers knew never to use gasoline and the company had a standard operating procedure that prohibited gasoline, or any tanker truck containing gasoline, from entering the fabrication shop. The diesel test fuel was stored in a tank outdoors.

The day before, another worker had used the diesel test fuel to wet test a different newly built tank truck outdoors. They left the diesel test fuel in the truck to calibrate the diesel meter. At some point, more fuel was added to the truck.

On 13 January, a worker pumped the diesel test fuel from the truck outside into the truck in the fabrication shop. That afternoon, flammable liquid vapours in the vicinity of the truck in the shop ignited, causing one explosion followed by a second larger explosion. Seven workers were injured, six fatally and one critically, as a result.

Following the explosions and fire, several fuel storage tanks at the workplace were tested for contamination. Gasoline was identified as a contaminant in several tanks of diesel, and diesel was identified as a contaminant in a tank of gasoline.

An Ontario Fire Marshall investigation found that the gasoline involved in the explosion was the result of contaminated diesel test fuel being used in the wet test. The diesel test fuel from the outdoor storage tank was contaminated with gasoline, and it was increasingly contaminated by gasoline when it was transferred to the outdoor tank truck. These two sources of gasoline cross-contaminated sufficiently to cause the explosions.

The company and its director failed to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect the health and safety of workers by failing to ensure that diesel fuel to be used for the wet testing of trucks was not contaminated with gasoline or any other flammable liquid or substance.

The company also failed to provide adequate information, instruction, and supervision to workers on safe fuel storage and handling procedures to protect the workers from the hazard of diesel fuel, used for the wet testing of trucks, from becoming contaminated with gasoline.

This is valid as of the 25th April 2024.

[Canada] Following a guilty plea in the Ontario Court of Justice in Ottawa, Eastway Tank, Pump and Meter Limited has been fined $600,000, while company director Neil Greene was fined $80,000, over the death of six workers in an explosion which occurred in January 2022.

Eastway Tank, Pump and Meter Limited was found to have failed to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of workers, contrary to section 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The company also failed to provide adequate information, instruction, and supervision to workers to protect their health and safety, contrary to section 25(2)(a) of the Act. Neil Greene failed to take all reasonable care to ensure that the corporation complied with section 25(2)(h) of the Act, contrary to section 32 of the Act. The Court also imposed a 25% victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act.

The Court heard how, on 13 January 2022, workers inside the company’s fabrication shop performed a wet test on a newly built tank truck to check for leakage. This entailed running diesel test fuel through different compartments of the tank and other truck components.

This was a routine operation at the workplace. Workers knew never to use gasoline and the company had a standard operating procedure that prohibited gasoline, or any tanker truck containing gasoline, from entering the fabrication shop. The diesel test fuel was stored in a tank outdoors.

The day before, another worker had used the diesel test fuel to wet test a different newly built tank truck outdoors. They left the diesel test fuel in the truck to calibrate the diesel meter. At some point, more fuel was added to the truck.

On 13 January, a worker pumped the diesel test fuel from the truck outside into the truck in the fabrication shop. That afternoon, flammable liquid vapours in the vicinity of the truck in the shop ignited, causing one explosion followed by a second larger explosion. Seven workers were injured, six fatally and one critically, as a result.

Following the explosions and fire, several fuel storage tanks at the workplace were tested for contamination. Gasoline was identified as a contaminant in several tanks of diesel, and diesel was identified as a contaminant in a tank of gasoline.

An Ontario Fire Marshall investigation found that the gasoline involved in the explosion was the result of contaminated diesel test fuel being used in the wet test. The diesel test fuel from the outdoor storage tank was contaminated with gasoline, and it was increasingly contaminated by gasoline when it was transferred to the outdoor tank truck. These two sources of gasoline cross-contaminated sufficiently to cause the explosions.

The company and its director failed to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect the health and safety of workers by failing to ensure that diesel fuel to be used for the wet testing of trucks was not contaminated with gasoline or any other flammable liquid or substance.

The company also failed to provide adequate information, instruction, and supervision to workers on safe fuel storage and handling procedures to protect the workers from the hazard of diesel fuel, used for the wet testing of trucks, from becoming contaminated with gasoline.

This is valid as of the 25th April 2024.

Fines issued after dockyard scaffolder seriously hurt

A man sustained numerous injuries after falling through a hole which should have been covered up, a court was told.

Devonport Royal Dockyard and Kaefer Limited were fined after scaffolder Arran Seymour was injured while working on HMS Bulwark in Plymouth. He fell 15ft through the hole in April 2023.

District Judge Jo Matson said the injuries had a “significant impact on his life”.

The court was told Mr Seymour was dismantling scaffolding inside a ballast tank as part of maintenance work for the ship on 11 April. As he climbed down a ladder, he stepped back and fell 15ft through an exposed lightening hole onto the lower tank floor. A lightening hole enables water to flow in and our of the ballast tank voids when the ship is at sea.

Mr Seymour sustained multiple fractures to his pelvis, a splintered wrist, a dislocated elbow and broken bones in his arm, hands and fingers. He spent two months in hospital and two weeks in a rehabilitation centre before returning home.

Devonport Royal Dockyard Limited (DRDL) and Kaefer Limited admitted health and safety breaches in relation to the incident, following a prosecution by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).

District Judge Jo Matson said: “It is such the case, as in these types of cases, where had measures been put in place in the first place, Mr Seymour would not have been put in the sad situation that he has been.”

She added that both defendants should be “commended for their openness”.

DRDL pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that people not in its employment were not exposed to risks to their health and safety, as well as failing to ensure that its employees were not exposed to similar risks. The company was ordered to pay fines and costs totalling to £757,589.90.

Kaefer Limited, who Mr Seymour worked for, admitted failing to ensure the health and safety of its employees in relation to the risks arising while working at height. The judge ruled that the company should pay a total of £154,249.90 in fines and costs.

The court also heard of a previous incident on the same site in January 2021 when a Kaefer contractor fell in the same hole. He managed to avoid falling completely through, avoiding serious injury.

Dan Hasted from the ONR said it welcomed the outcome which recognised DRDL and Kaefer Limited “failed in their duty to protect workers”.

“This incident was entirely avoidable and was the result of a series of significant failings on the part of both organisations involved in this work,” he said, adding: “Nobody should go to work and not come home in a fit and healthy state.”

Kaefer Limited said it was “deeply saddened” one of their colleagues received these injuries whist at work, and it had since “supported his wellbeing and rehabilitation”.

The company said: “The health and safety of our employees remains our top priority, we have a strong safety culture, and are dedicated to achieving the highest standards in all our operations.

“Having completed our investigations into the event and determined the root causes, our teams are implementing identified improvements to procedures and sharing the lessons learnt.”

This is valid as of the 9th April 2024.

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Landlord jailed after putting ‘lives and safety of residents and employees at risk’

A landlord has been jailed after she “put the lives and safety of residents and employees at risk” by failing to comply with fire safety regulations.

Angela Chang admitted six breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (the Order) after pictures showed properties filled with rubbish and old mattresses which would have prevented her tenants from leaving the building safely.

Flats at the Great Fortune House, at Victoria Road West, and St Georges Lane in Thornton-Cleveleys in Lancashire were issued with the prohibition notice after being inspected by safety officers from the fire service.

The flats were occupied at the time by several employees of the Great Fortune House, a family of three and a builder undertaking work on the premises.

Alongside the mattresses and rubbish Lancashire Fire and Rescue (LFRS) Officers found the flats were also not equipped with appropriate fire detectors and alarms.

LFRS said the breaches posed a “serious threat to the life and safety of the tenants” and anyone else who may visit the property.

Chang was prosecuted for her failure to comply with the Order and the prohibition notice. She pleaded guilty to all six charges.

Chang was sentenced to three months in prison and ordered to pay £10,414 in costs to LFRS.

Ian Armistead, Protection Department Group Manager for LFRS, said: “Ms Angela Chang is the responsible person for these premises, and as such has a legal duty to ensure that people who use her premises are provided with a safe environment.

“We hope that this prosecution will ensure that the standard of her properties is kept within the requirements of the law.

“In our constant drive to make Lancashire safer, our fire safety enforcement teams are always actively seeking out other dangerous premises.

“We would hope that the outcome of this particular case where a custodial sentence has been issued, sends a clear message that fire safety must always be a priority.

“In this instance the consequences of the inadequate fire safety measures and inadequate management could have led to serious injury or loss of life and circumstances left us with no other option but to take this action.

“Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service will always work with those willing to address fire safety issues and businesses can be assured that we will continue to support them in complying with the Fire Safety Order.

“We would urge landlords and responsible persons who need to take action to comply with fire safety regulations to visit the Business Safety section of our website, which contains advice and guidance on how to comply with your legal duties.”

This is valid as of the 9th April 2024.

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Director jailed for failing to protect workers from asbestos exposure

A company director has been jailed for eight months after failing to protect workers from exposure to asbestos at a student development project in Winchester.

Stephen Davies, 59, had set up Cavendish Winchester Ltd with the sole purpose of refurbishing the Winnall Close commercial unit into student rental accommodation. His co-director Neil Bolton, 56, was spared an immediate spell behind bars when he was handed a four-month suspended sentence. The company itself was fined £30,000 – with all three defendants pleading guilty.

The HSE’s investigation found that the company removed an estimated ten tonnes of asbestos insulating board (AIB) during the refurbishment in late 2019 and early 2020. The dangerous materials were stripped out by workers unqualified to do the job and unaware of the risks to their health.

The investigation arose when the HSE received a concern that large quantities of AIB had been illegally removed. The work was all carried out under the direction of Stephen Davies.

The court was told both directors were aware of the considerable extent and quantity of the materials containing asbestos within the building, as they had previously sought legitimate quotes for its competent removal.

However, they chose to save a considerable sum of money by avoiding properly planned, safe removal, by a Licenced Asbestos Removal Contractor. They knowingly exposed workers to significant risk to their health. In addition, the investigation was unable to determine where a very sizeable quantity of asbestos-contaminated debris ended up, such that others in the waste removal chain were likely to have been put at risk too.

All three defendants pleaded guilty to charges relating to a lack of adequate management of the removal of asbestos containing materials.

Both Stephen Davies and Neil Bolton pleaded guilty to Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, by causing their company, The Cavendish Winchester Ltd, to breach Section 4(1) of the Act.

Davies, of Petworth, West Sussex was given an immediate custodial sentence of 8 months in prison.

Bolton, of Petworth, West Sussex was given a custodial sentence of four months, suspended for 12 month, with 250 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of over £5,123.

The Cavendish Winchester Ltd, of Newtown House, Liphook, was fined £30,000.00.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE principal inspector Steve Hull said: “We brought this case because, despite the directors of this company being put on notice of the risks involved, they put profit before the health of those they employed.

“The dangers to health associated with exposure to asbestos fibres are well known and a wealth of advice and guidance is freely available from HSE and other organisations.

“Structural refurbishment which either exposes or is liable to expose people to asbestos fibres should only be carried out by competent persons working to a strict plan of work to ensure safety. Higher risk asbestos removal, such as the removal of AIB, can only legally be carried out by Licenced Asbestos Removal Contractors who have the knowledge and equipment to prevent the spread of fibres and properly protect the workers undertaking the removal work.

“This work involved the removal of an estimated ten tonnes of AIB. The defendants then tried to cover their tracks by legitimising the removal of a small amount of residual asbestos containing materials, after illegally stripping out the majority, by obtaining a new quote for legal removal of that very small remaining portion. This deliberate attempt to save money, when they knew full well that the workers would have to live with the possibility of developing serious asbestos-related disease in the future, makes the case particularly serious.”

This case was brought by HSE enforcement lawyer Kate Harney, who was supported by Paralegal Officer Helen Jacob.

This is valid as of 2nd April 2024.

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