A civil engineering firm has been fined £600K for safety breaches after a seven-year-old child became trapped and suffocated on a construction site.

Seven-year-old Conley Thompson went missing from home on the morning of 26 July 2015 and was found the next morning by workers at the construction site at Bank End Road, Worsborough, in South Yorkshire.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Conley had become trapped in a drainage pipe, which had been fixed into the ground in preparation for the installation of fencing posts. Tragically, he had suffocated before being found the next morning when work restarted on site.

Howard Civil Engineering Ltd of Howard House Limewood Approach Leeds pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 13(4)(b) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £600K and ordered to pay £42,952.88 in costs at Sheffield Crown Court today.

The construction site was a new-build housing development next to an existing housing estate and adjacent to busy pedestrian footpaths and roads. HSE found that there was insufficient fencing in place to prevent unauthorised persons from accessing the construction site due to a combination of poor planning, management and monitoring of the site and its perimeter.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Paul Yeadon said: “Conley should never have been able to be on that site. He should have been kept out.

“The construction industry should be aware of the dangers of construction sites to members of the public and any other unauthorised persons.

“The dangers to children gaining access to construction sites and treating them like a playground is an ongoing problem which must be addressed at all types of sites no matter what their complexity or size.

“The industry must do all it can to ensure children can’t access construction sites and be exposed to the inherent risks they present to prevent further tragedies like this from occurring.”

As reported on: HSE Media

This month we are giving you a chance to get your SMSTS training course absolutely free!

Importantly you don’t have to be an existing Goldcross customer, the draw is open to all – so whether you are:

  1. An existing; tradesman, specialist, operative, supervisor or manager
  2. Someone who is thinking of becoming a manager in the; construction, rail, road, utility, engineering or safety related sectors

this may be an ideal opportunity for you to cover your current/future training expenses or perhaps take those important steps to gaining a managers qualification.

How can You win?

The draw will run from Monday 01st through til midnight on Wednesday 31st August 2022 and all you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is:

  • Book a 5 day SMSTS course of any type via the Goldcross website for any time over the next three months (August – October 2022), either with a deposit or full-payment.

That’s all there is to it.

The Prize Wheel

We will be using the ‘Wheel of Names’ to determine the winner and the video recording of the ‘wheel spin’ will be broadcast on our social media pages on Monday 05th September.

Terms and Conditions

The winner and prize:

  • will be determined by ‘chance’ using the ‘Wheel Of Names’.
  • the ‘wheel of names’ will be spun by an entity independent from Goldcross and also witnesed appropriately.

Entry into the draw:

  • Only those bookings for which Goldcross have recieved payment (deposit or full payment) will be entered into the draw.
  • One entry per delegate booked on an SMSTS course will be allocated i.e. bookings with 4 delegates will receive 4 entries.
  • The name of the person (company, entity) making the booking will be the name entered.

Prize:

  • Should the winner have paid in full for the course they will receive a full refund, covering the cost of one delegate, in full.
  • Should they have only paid the deposit, Goldcross will cover the cost of one SMSTS course, for one delegate, in full – subject to its standard terms and conditions.
  • The value of the prize will not exceed the cost of:- one 5 day SMSTS course.

Goldcross provides this draw in good faith and accepts no responsibility for any: loss, error, misunderstanding or misrepresentation that may arise as a result of it’s provision.

Please don’t keep it to yourself – ‘Spread the word’ on social media using the links below and let your friends know about the draw.

The Mineral Products Association (MPA) has launched a number of new resources, available to all, after identifying ‘Working at Height’ as one of the ‘Fatal 6’.

As reported in the HSE statics there were 35 deaths attributed to falls from height in 2021/22 and they continue to be the major cause of workplace related fatalities.  One such incident being investigated by the HSE occurred only this week at a premises in Scunthorpe.

Whilst these resources are primarily aimed at the mineral products industry, we have no doubt that many of you (if not all) will find them useful.

Guide to Safe Working at Height – handbook

This ‘Guide to Safe Working at Height’ booklet has been produced to outline how the potential hazards associated with activities that involve working at height can be either eliminated or mitigated.  It is designed for use by managers, employees, and contractors, its intent being to achieve a significant reduction in fatalities and serious injuries due to a fall from height.

All incidents involving falls from height can be avoided by applying and following the right procedures or engineering solutions.

Based on the hierarchy of control (HOC), the handbook provides ‘clear, simple and smart’ guidance for those managing Work at Height. An introduction is provided for each element of the hierarchy of control, along with examples of good practice and questions every site should be asking. The guidance should be considered when conducting a risk assessment and conducting a work at height safety review.

The full ‘Guide to Safe Working at Height handbook’ is available here.

Employee Guide for Working at Height Safely

This booklet provides advice for employees on how they can avoid danger and keep themselves and their colleagues safe by applying the hierarchy of control for all work at height activities.  Whilst shorter than the above guide it is comprehensive

The ‘Working at Height Safely – Employee Guide’ is available here.

Tony Entwistle, MPA’s Health and Safety manager said: “Even those companies who may think they have already rolled out this issue might consider re-auditing or repeating the campaign focus. Experience shows that either people begin to forget or changes aren’t fully embedded.

Why not consider carrying out a company/site audit, working together with site staff to identify gaps and put together a scheme of planned improvements. Then, use the handbook, e-learning module and other resources to hold training sessions or discussions with your workforce and provide them with copies of the Employees’ guide. Even consider running a companywide campaign week.”

Well done the MPA for sharing!!

Want to know more about the ‘the fatal 6’? visit here.

A Lincolnshire based manufacturing company that specialises in lifting and handling equipment has been fined after an employee died after falling with a work platform onto the M25 motorway.

Reading Crown Court heard that Rick Jeager-Fozard, an employee of Kimberly Access Limited, was carrying out a routine pre-delivery inspection on a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) on 5 June 2013.

The MEWP extended to an unsafe angle and resulted in the MEWP falling onto the M25 motorway. Mr Jeager-Fozard was working in the platform of the MEWP, falling with the device.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the device had become unsafe because a miscalibration of its secondary boom angle sensor, which started to extend even though the boom had not been raised to the necessary angle.  It was found that the MEWPs secondary boom had raised to an angle around 6-degrees lower that required, the boom then extended beyond its safe working limit and tipped over.

The miscalibration occurred through incorrect data being manually manipulated and uploaded onto the machine via a laptop using password protected WebGPI software.  The carrying out of warranty repairs on the machine during this period, including granting access to the WebGPI software, fell within the conduct of Genie UK Ltd’s undertaking.

Genie UK Limited of The Maltings, Wharf Road, Grantham, Lincolnshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was fined £270,000 and ordered to pay costs of £165,175.

HSE inspector Stephen Faulkner said: “This was a tragic and harrowing incident. Modern high reach MEWPs rely on accurate data to ensure they extend and operate safely, and steps should be taken to ensure the process of calibrating sensors is correctly followed.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

As reported on: HSE Media

A Kent company, RPS Scaffolding Ltd, has been fined following an incident where a scaffold the company erected collapsed, injuring two workers.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that on 10 August 2020, two individuals were injured when a scaffold they were working from on Thorpebank Road, London collapsed.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found RPS Scaffolding Ltd erected a scaffold to enable the exterior of the property to be decorated. The scaffold erected did not conform to standard configuration and it was erected without strength and stability calculations being carried out. Soon after the two individuals accessed the top lift of the scaffold it collapsed. One of them suffered a fractured shoulder, elbow and wrist while the other suffered a fractured shoulder.

RPS Scaffolding Ltd of 24 Chaplin Drive, Headcorn, Ashford, Kent pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 8(b)(ii) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The court fined them £40,000 and awarded full costs of £4,705.16.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Adam Thompson, commented: “The Work at Height Regulations are clear, where scaffolding is erected that does not conform with a generally recognised standard configuration then strength and stability calculations shall be carried out.

“RPS Scaffolding Ltd’s failure to do this resulted in a scaffold that was unsuitable for its use that collapsed within the first morning of its use, injuring two people and putting the public at risk.”

As reported on: HSE Media

Lancashire County Council has been fined after several employees carrying out work in the highways department developed a debilitating nerve condition as a result of failure to control exposure to vibration.

Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard that, in February 2019, HSE received a RIDDOR report from Lancashire County Council, relating to the diagnosis of a case of Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVs). An improvement notice was served to the council in July 2019 requiring the council to improve their control of HAVs. However, subsequent to this, a further ten cases of vibration- related ill-health, unrelated to the RIDDOR report, were uncovered and reported late. Four more reports were also filed, but these were on time.

Regular use of vibrating tools causes the painful and disabling disorder which, in this case, has left the employees with nerve damage to the hands and arms, making everyday tasks and leisure activities difficult or impossible.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that there had been insufficient supervision and monitoring by the council to ensure that operatives accurately recorded their levels of exposure to vibration.

Furthermore, health surveillance records had not been acted upon promptly to reduce or stop exposure levels when symptoms were reported. In addition to this, risk assessments were not adequate for controlling the amount of exposure of operatives, and practices had not been implemented to prevent overexposure. Had these measures been in place the total of fifteen reported HAVs incidences of ill-health could have been prevented. It was also found that the council had failed to send reports of the various diagnoses to HSE without delay as required under the RIDDOR regulations.

Lancashire County Council of County Hall, Fishergate, Preston pleaded guilty to breaches of Section 2 (1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Regulation 8 of the RIDDOR Regulations 2013. The Council was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,366,78.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Jennifer French, said: “HAVs can be a serious and sometimes disabling condition that is irreversible.

“All employers have a duty to provide effective measures to ensure the health of their staff are not seriously or permanently harmed by the work they are asked to do. HSE is committed to thoroughly investigating companies who do not comply with their duties and will prosecute if necessary.”

As reported on: HSE Media Centre

A MANCHESTER CONSTRUCTION COMPANY was fined after loft conversion and ground floor extension work to a three-bedroom domestic property in Stretford caused much of the house to collapse.

Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard that on 4 May 2020, Mughal Construction Limited had been carrying out a loft conversion when it collapsed, causing workers to flee from the site.

Loft Conversion Collapse

The loft conversion house had insufficient temporary supports and workers did not have sufficient skills, knowledge and experience, to carry out the work safely.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company had failed to properly plan, manage, and monitor the work. It had failed to provide adequate health and safety measures to prevent the risk of collapse at the property including sufficient measures to ensure it remained safe and stable.

Mughal Construction Limited of Levenshulme Trading Estate, Printworks Lane, Manchester pleaded guilty of breaching Regulations 13(1) and 19(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. The company was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,000.

HSE inspector, Phil Redman, said after the hearing: “This was a very serious incident, and it is fortunate nobody was injured as a result of the collapse. Where contractors fail to take suitable and sufficient precautions whilst carrying out structural alterations HSE will take appropriate action including prosecution.”

Gurmit Properties Limited were fined today for safety breaches after a substantial part of a wall at a construction site at Barnsley Road, South Elmsall collapsed, seriously injuring a child.

Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard that, Gurmit Properties Limited (GPL) were the owners of the site at Barnsley Road, South Elmsall. The company had previously received a large delivery of aggregate, which was deposited on land next to the construction site. Officials from the local council attended the site and ordered the materials to be removed. GPL then brought the materials back on to their site storing them behind the wall.

On 7th February 2018 an eight-year old child was walking with her mother along Harrow Street, adjacent to GPL’s construction site, when she was hit by the collapsing wall. She sustained serious injuries, including crush injuries to her foot which resulted in the amputation of a big toe.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that GPL had not assessed the structural integrity of the wall to ensure it was safe to be used as either a secure boundary for the site or as a retaining wall for storing materials. When the materials were stored against the wall it failed and this led directly to the collapse and the injuries to the child.

GPL were a client and a contractor within the meaning of Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and failed in their duty to ensure that the wall was either safe for use as a secure site boundary or as a retaining wall for storing materials.

Gurmit Properties Ltd of Albion Street Castleford West Yorkshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company has been fined £22,500 and ordered to pay £11,998.80 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Chris Tilley commented: “ The company should have appointed a competent person to carry out an assessment of the wall at the start of the project to establish whether it was safe to use as a boundary wall and then carried out a similar assessment when the wall was then used as a retaining wall for storing materials.

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

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

As reported on HSE Media.

A contractor and a water management company have been fined after a worker was injured when he was hit by a 1.5 tonne water valve.

Newcastle upon Tyne Magistrates’ Court heard that on 5 June 2018, Northumbrian Water Limited had contracted JW Colpitts & Co Limited to connect a 1.5 tonne water valve in a confined chamber at Kielder Reservoir, Northumberland. The valve was suspended from a lorry mounted crane when it swung across the chamber and struck the worker. He sustained an open compound fracture of his tibia and fibula and was airlifted to hospital.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that both companies had failed to risk assess the work and the additional hazards introduced by a change in the scope of work. They failed to implement suitable safety measures and safe systems of work; and provide adequate supervision to the workers.

Northumbrian Water Limited of Northumbria House, Abbey Road, Pity Me, Durham pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. They were fined £365,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,360.69 and a victim surcharge of £120.00.

JW Colpitts & Co Limited of John Anderson House, Coniston Road, Blyth Riverside Industrial Estate, Blyth pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 etc. They were fined £30,000 and ordered to pay costs of £17,452.22 and a victim surcharge of £120.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Clare Maltby said: “Companies must understand that work activities involving confined spaces, work at height and lifting operations must be subject to a robust risk assessment. Furthermore, risk assessments should be reviewed if the scope of work changes and additional hazards are introduced.

“Companies must also ensure that they have suitable safety control measures and safe systems of work in place to address the identified risks. Appropriate arrangements should be in place to supervise and monitor work.”

As reported on HSE Media.

A construction company and its groundworks contractor have been fined after unsafe excavation work left a worker with serious burns to his hand and arm.

High Wycombe Magistrates’ Court heard that, on the 2 August 2018, a groundworker was preparing the ground to install a post to carry an Automatic Number Plate Recognition Camera (ANPRC), at Twyford near Reading, Berkshire.

Initially, the worker dug by hand, however, due to the ground conditions and numerous hedgerow roots he started to use an 110V mechanical electric breaker.

The incident occurred when the groundworker struck a power cable supplying an adjacent British Telecommunications building. The voltage of the cable was 415v causing the ground worker to receive an electric shock that caused burns to one hand and to his opposite arm.

An Investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that site plans for buried cables had not been consulted and a cable avoidance tool had not been used to locate buried services in advance of carrying out the work. In addition, there was a lack of properly trained labour and supervision in place for the excavation works.

The principal contractor on site had failed to plan, manage and monitor the excavation works and also failed to provide adequate supervision for the ANPR installation project.

CLC Contractors Limited (the Principal Contractor), of Unit 2 Northbrook Industrial Estate, Vincent Avenue, Southampton, SO16 6PB pleaded guilty to breaching 13 (1) Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and were fined £400,000.00 and ordered to pay costs of £5,300.00.

Paul Gale, Company Director of PAG Building Services Ltd of 2 Moore Crescent, Netley Abbey, Southampton, Hampshire pleaded guilty to Section 37(1) Health and Safety Work Act 1974.

Due to the seriousness of the offence the case was referred to Aylesbury Crown Court for sentencing. Paul Gale was sentenced to 14 months imprisonment suspended for 24 months and 150 hour of community service. HSE was awarded costs of £7,200.

Speaking after the case, HSE inspector John Caboche commented: “Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers in the safe system of working. In this instance, readily available buried service records were not consulted, and a cable avoidance tool was not provided to the groundworks team. Utilising these simple steps would have prevented this serious incident.”

As reported on HSE Media