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.

It’s Competition time again – yes, we are giving you another chance to win a training voucher courtesy of Goldcross Training up to the value of £399!

The voucher can be used in a variety of different ways i.e. you can take one course or you can take multiple courses (up to the value of the voucher) and you can spend it on either ‘online’, ‘classroom’ or ‘e-learning’ based training.

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

  1. An existing; tradesman, specialist, operative, labourer, supervisor, manager or first aider
  2. Someone who is thinking of entering the; construction, rail, road, utility, engineering or safety related sectors

this may be an ideal opportunity for you to cover your current training expenses or perhaps take those first steps in gaining the required qualifications to enter a new industry/sector.

How can You win?

The competition will run from Monday 11th April through til midnight on Wednesday 20th April 2022 and all you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is:

  • Visit the Goldcross Training ‘Facebook Page’ – visit: https://www.facebook.com/GoldcrossTraining/
  • Scroll down the page to our most recent competition post and answer the following question:  Who traditionally delivers ‘eggs’ over Easter?

That’s it and remember ‘you have to be in it to win it’ so make sure you answer the question on our facebook page – Good Luck!

Additionally why keep it to yourself? ‘Spread the word’ and let your friends know about the competition.

The Prize Wheel

This time we have made it a two-stage process and the ‘Wheel of Names’ will be used to determine:

  • The winner
  • The value of the prize voucher which could be anything from £199 up to £399!

as a bonus should the value of the first prize not land on £399 – the wheel will be spun a second time to select a second winner for a voucher of £199 so the full prize pot is guaranteed to go!

The video recordings of the ‘wheel spins’ will be broadcast on Facebook on Thursday 21st April.

Terms and Conditions

The voucher:

  • will be valid for 12 months.
  • Can also be redeemed against any Goldcross course booked over the period of the competition.
  • can only be redeemed against a Goldcross Training provided training course.
  • has no redeemable ‘cash value’.
  • can only be redeemed by the named winner of the competition.

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.

Ventilation, protective equipment and appropriate guarding are some of the measures businesses should consider as Britain’s workplace regulator is carrying out inspections to protect the respiratory health of workers.

From April, health and safety inspectors across Great Britain will be visiting business within woodworking industries such as sawmilling, manufacture of composite boards, and carpentry, as well as other industries where wood dust exposure can occur.

Woodworking industries have the potential for high incidence rates of occupational asthma and work-aggravated asthma caused by worker exposure to inadequately controlled wood dust in the workplace.

Inspectors will be looking for evidence that employers have considered the control measures required to reduce workers exposure to wood dust, that workers understand the risks of exposure to wood dust, and effective control measures have been put in place to protect workers from harm. Inspectors will take enforcement action when necessary to make sure workers are protected.

HSE’s head of manufacturing David Butter said: “Around 12,000 workers died last year from lung diseases linked to past exposure from work, with thousands more cases of ill-health and working days lost. Wood dust can cause serious health problems. It can cause asthma, which carpenters and joiners are four times more likely to get compared with other UK workers, as well as nasal cancer. Our campaign aims to help businesses whose workers cut and shape wood to take action now to protect their workers’ respiratory health.

“Through visiting wood working businesses, our inspectors are able to speak to a range of dutyholders and look at the measures they have in place to comply with the guidance and protect workers from respiratory diseases such as occupational asthma and nasal cancer.  

“Businesses can act now to ensure they are complying with the law by ensuring the control of wood dust at source by fitting and using extraction on machines.  Ensuring they fit and use guards on machines to protect fingers and hands and ensure those that use the machine to understand the risks and how to control them. Checking that guards are well adjusted will minimise danger and ensure that dust capture remains effective.

“Our inspection initiative aims to ensure employers and workers are aware of the risks associated with the activities they do. They must recognise these dangers and manage these risks through reducing exposure. Dutyholders need to do the right thing, for example, through completing a risk assessment, ensuring workers are trained, appropriate guarding is fitted and adjusted correctly, and reducing exposure using local exhaust ventilation (LEV) and using suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE) to protect workers, where required.”

For the latest advice and guidance visit www.hse.gov.uk/woodworking/

As reported on HSE Media.

Northern Gas Networks Ltd were sentenced today for safety breaches after a fire and gas explosion at residential premises in Mirfield resulted in the death of the homeowner.

Leeds Crown Court heard that, on 11 February 2019, West Yorkshire Fire service were called to a fire and explosion in Huddersfield Road, Mirfield, West Yorks. The occupier, Elena Frunza, was discovered during a search of the property, whilst it was still on fire. She was taken to Pinderfields General Hospital where she died the following morning.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the source of the gas escape was identified as being from a fractured six inch cast iron main running under the carriageway to the front of the property. The investigation found that the main did not appear on Northern Gas Networks drawings and had therefore not been maintained in accordance with the Pipelines Safety Regulations 1996.

Northern Gas Networks Ltd of Thorpe Business Park, Colton, Leeds pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £5 million and ordered to pay costs of £91,487.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Neil Casey said: “This incident, that put the lives of the elderly residents of a care home at risk and cost a homeowner her life, has highlighted a failure by Northern Gas Networks Limited to follow their own safety procedures, in this case requiring the prompt and effective investigation and correction of anomalies in their records. Other gas network operators should take the opportunity to learn from this tragic incident.”

As reported on: HSE Media

A builder has been jailed for more than three years after he killed one of his workers while demolition a garage.

Paramjit Singh, 48, of Iris Road in Southampton, was found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter following a two-week trial at Winchester Crown Court on October 2021.

He was sentenced on December 03rd to three years and three months in jail for the charge. He was also sentenced to 20 months in prison after admitting to breaching sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act and his sentences will run concurrently.

The incident happened in Chilworth in 2019 when Singh had been hired to demolish Birchdene, on Ling Dale. At the time, Singh was the owner and manager of SAB builder and employed staff to work as “odd job men”.  The day before the incident took place Singh had demolished all but one side of the garage on the ground and then returned on July 16, 2019, to complete the job.

Singh arrived at around 9am to demolish the final wall before jumping into a digger and moving towards the wall.

However, when the wall was demolished Kulwant Singh Athwal, one of Singh’s workers, was standing on the other side and the structure collapsed on top of him.

Singh is understood not to have known where his team were when he began working with the digger.

A post mortem examination found that Mr Athwal died of his injuries, which were consistent with being crushed by a heavy object.

Speaking after the sentencing hearing, Detective Chief Inspector Kate Gunson said:

“This was an extremely tragic case resulting in the completely avoidable death of Kulwant Singh Athwal.  It is a tragedy for all involved. We hope that lessons will be learned that prevent this from ever happening again.”

The court also heard how Singh’s public liability and CS card were expired after SAB Builders went bankrupt in 2015 and the company ceased trading.

HSE inspector James Lucas said: “All demolition work, however large or small, has the potential of serious risk if it is not properly planned and controlled.

“Paramjit Singh failed to prepare a written plan for the demolition of the building or any site-specific risk assessments. In this case, simple control measures and safe working practices, such as excluding people on site from danger zones with physical barriers, could have saved a life.

“There are no winners here. The victim, Kulwant Singh Atwal, so sadly lost his life because of the absence of basic safety measures. The perpetrator, Paramjit Singh, will spend time in prison and will always carry the heavy burden of having caused another person’s death.  HSE would like to encourage all small builders to ensure they know how to properly plan, manage and monitor all construction work they undertake. The HSE website provides a wealth of information, some of it translated into other languages.  In addition, HSE wants to stress to all workers from minority communities or anyone from any background who may feel vulnerable, that health and safety law is there for their protection, just as much as any other workers. HSE always focuses on making workplaces safer and healthier, whoever is at risk.”

A national construction company has been fined after an unannounced inspection by Health and Safety Executive inspectors found poor welfare standards, dangerous electrical systems and inadequate health and safety provision on site.

Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard how concerns had been raised regarding the health and safety standards at the construction site of the former Tobacco Warehouse, Stanley Dock, Liverpool, being renovated by Abercorn Construction Limited. A site inspection found the welfare cabin used by employees to be in poor condition, containing exposed live wires and damaged electrical sockets, a mouldy dishwasher and an accumulation of rubbish both inside and outside the cabin with the potential to attract vermin.

A general site inspection found numerous uncontrolled high risks such as a damaged cable on a 400v transformer, insufficient fire alarms, a lack of fire extinguishers and signage indicating emergency routes and multiple examples of unprotected edges and openings exposing workers to risk of a fall from height. There was also inadequate pedestrian and vehicle segregation, poor order, poor lighting and the risk of exposure to live electrical conductors.

The investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had failed to effectively plan, manage and monitor the works which had resulted in these health and safety issues arising on site. These risks had already been highlighted to the company in previous written enforcement. Despite compliance being achieved, poor standards had been allowed to develop again.

Abercorn Construction Limited of 50 Bedford Street, Belfast pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £77,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,025.52.

After the hearing, HSE inspector John Padfield commented: ”This type of proactive prosecution will highlight to the industry that HSE will not hesitate to prosecute companies for repeated breaches of the law.

“Good management of health and safety on site is crucial to the successful delivery of a construction project and principal contractors have an important role in managing the risks of construction work and providing strong leadership to ensure standards are understood and followed”

As reported on: HSE Media

Work-related stress and poor mental health risk becoming a health and safety crisis for Great Britain’s workplaces, the regulator has warned.

While the full impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is yet to be fully understood, mental health issues are the number one reason given for sick days in the UK. Last year more than 17 million working days were lost as a result of stress, anxiety, or depression. A recent survey by the charity Mind suggests that two in five employees’ mental health had worsened during the pandemic.

In response the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is today, Tuesday 16 November, launching its new campaign, ‘Working Minds’, at its Health and Work Conference, which examines issues relating to health at work. The campaign aims to help businesses recognise the signs of work-related stress and make tackling issues routine.

While ‘Working Minds’ is specifically targeting six million workers in small businesses, HSE is calling for a culture change across Britain’s workplaces, to ensure psychological risks are treated the same as physical ones in health and safety risk management.

HSE’s chief executive Sarah Albon said: “Work-related stress and poor mental health should be treated with the same significance as risks of poor physical health and injury. In terms of the affect it has on workers, significant and long-term stress can limit performance and impact personal lives.

“No worker should suffer in silence and if we don’t act now to improve workers’ mental health, this could evolve into a health and safety crisis.

“The pandemic has highlighted the need to protect the health of employees who have faced unprecedented challenges; the Government is committed to building back better and we want to make sure good mental health is central to this.”

HSE is reminding business that no matter where people work, employers have a legal duty to assess the risks in the workplace, not just in terms of potential hazards and physical safety. They should also promote good working practices. It says this promotes an open environment where employees can share their concerns and discuss options to ease pressures.

Sarah Albon added: “Our campaign is focused on giving employers a clear reminder of their duties while championing reducing work-related stress and promoting good mental health at work.”

The regulator has partnered with a number of organisations to highlight the triggers of stress, the legal duty of employers and how to manage the risks. The network of Working Minds champions includes the charity Mind, which supports and empowers anyone experiencing a mental health problem in England.

Working Minds is aimed specifically at supporting small businesses by providing employers and workers with easy to implement advice, including simple steps in its ‘5 R’s’ to Reach out, Recognise, Respond, Reflect, and make it Routine.

Employers and workers wanting to know more about the Working Minds campaign, including the legal obligations, advice, and tools available, should visit: workright.campaign.gov.uk/campaigns/workingminds.

Comments in support of Working Minds

Dane Krambergar, Head of Workplace Wellbeing Services at Mind, said: “We’re really pleased to be supporting HSE’s Working Minds campaign which aims to support businesses to promote good mental health among their staff. Mind has long been working with employers of different sizes and sectors to help them create mentally healthy workplaces, but this has never been more important. This campaign couldn’t have come at a better time, given the impact the pandemic has taken on employers and staff.

“We recently surveyed over 40,000 staff working across 114 organisations. Two in five (41 per cent) employees told us their mental health had worsened during the pandemic.”

Prof Neil Greenberg, Chair of the Occupational Psychiatry Special Interest Group at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “Good mental health is just as important as good physical health, so it’s vital that employers do all that they can to promote good mental health in the workplace. Employees should be given appropriate support to help minimise the likelihood of experiencing work-related mental health problems and be supported in their treatment and recovery if they do develop or live with a mental illness.

“HSE’s campaign will give organisations and employers the necessary tools to spot potential signs of mental ill-health, and to develop or improve their practices to protect the psychological health of their staff.”

Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work Chloe Smith said: “Making sure businesses have the right tools to recognise and support their employees with their mental health is key to creating healthy workforces across the country.

“Campaigns like this are so important and alongside our other measures to help reduce ill-health related job loss and initiatives such as Access to Work we can ensure even more people can stay in their job and thrive.”

As reported at: HSE Media

HSE’s inspectors across Great Britain will be targeting construction firms to check that their health standards are up to scratch during a month-long inspection initiative, starting on Monday 4 October 2021. 

This year inspections will focus on respiratory risks and occupational lung disease, looking at the control measures businesses have in place to protect their workers’ lungs from construction dust including silica, asbestos and wood dust. This is part of HSE’s longer term health and work strategy to improve health within the construction industry. 

While the primary focus will be on health during this programme of inspections, if an inspector identifies any other areas of concern, including immediate safety risks, they will take the necessary action to deal with them.  

Inspectors will be looking for evidence of employers and workers knowing the risks, planning their work and using the right controls. If necessary, they will use enforcement to make sure people are protected. 

The initiative will be supported by HSE’s WorkRight campaign, aimed at influencing employer behaviour by encouraging builders to download free guidance and advice, increasing knowledge and capability to protect workers’ health.  

More than 3,500 builders die each year from cancers related to their work, with thousands more cases of ill-health and working days lost. 

HSE’s chief inspector of construction, Sarah Jardine, said: “Around 100 times as many workers die from diseases caused or made worse by their work than are actually killed in construction accidents. 

“Our inspection initiatives ensure that inspectors are able to speak to duty holders and visit sites to look at the kind of action businesses in the construction industry are taking right now to protect their workers’ health, particularly when it comes to exposure to dust and damage to lungs. These are mature health challenges that the industry ought to be managing effectively. 

“There are a few simple things that everyone can do to make sure they are protecting their health and their future. Be aware of the risks associated with activities you do every day, recognise the dangers of hazardous dust and consider how it can affect your health. We want businesses and their workers to think of the job from start to finish and avoid creating dust by working in different ways to keep dust down and wear the right protective equipment.” 

HSE is being supported by the Health in Construction Leadership Group (HCLG) and Tier 1 industry contractors. Throughout October 2021, HCLG members will carry out more than 1,000 site visits to assess the effectiveness of measures in place to controls workers’ exposure to respiratory risks from dust. Findings from site visits and a survey will allow industry to feed into HSE’s broader commitment to improve the health of construction workers by providing HSE with a wider dataset to evaluate ongoing practices across industry. 

HSE and industry Insights will support HSE’s strategic plan to broaden the range and depth of future regulatory health interventions. 

For more information on the programme of inspections visit the Work Right campaign website: https://workright.campaign.gov.uk/campaigns/construction-dust/ 

As reported in: HSE Media

It’s been claimed that computer systems controlling signs on smart motorways crashed three times in four days, meaning signs across hundreds of miles of motorway could not be changed.

A whistleblower has claimed staff operating England’s smart motorways are ‘petrified’ of road users being killed following a string of computer crashes.

Three system failures in April meant that across hundreds of miles of motorway, the digital signs which inform drivers of speed limits or lane closures were left ‘unusable’.

The signs, also called gantries, could not be changed along parts of the M1, M4, M5 and M62, leading an insider at National Highways (formerly England Highways) to warn that ‘someone is going to get killed.’

The Sunday Telegraph spoke to the member of staff at National Highways (formerly Highways England) who said the system failed in April and that a Freedom of Information request to National Highways, the Government-owned company, shows two control centres covering Yorkshire, the North East and South West of England were hit by a computer “bug” and server problem disabling digital control of signs for a total of eight hours.

The whistleblower told the Telegraph: ‘We have had enough.

‘The system keeps breaking down, meaning we can’t control our signs and signals on motorways, including smart motorways.

‘One day, we could not access signs and signals for up to seven hours. So, there was information telling drivers lanes were closed when they were actually open, and speed limits were in place when they actually were not.

‘Control room staff are petrified because it feels like the whole system is a ticking time bomb.

‘Some will quit and others will go off sick because we feel we can’t keep people on the network safe. The system is broken.’

Dynac, the computer system controlling the signs and gantries on the smart motorways, has been dubbed ‘Die Now’ by staff over fears that further system failures could cause fatal traffic accidents.

Reporter Steve Bird writes that Dynac, the software used to set signs and signals, including the red X on overhead gantries which closes lanes in which motorists have broken down, was rendered “unusable”, according to documents, however, he adds, it transpires that Dynac, the Austrian-made software programme, is not to blame and the problems were often found in the myriad of high-tech systems running alongside it.

One document classified “sensitive” records a manager stating how that April system crash “impacts on customer and traffic officer safety in not being able to set signs and signals to protect live lane incidents”.

The succession of computer crashes came as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps was announcing the continued roll-out of the smart motorways – which see the removal of the hard shoulder in favour of a fourth lane.

National Highways regional director Andrew Page-Dove said:

“Our motorways are among the safest roads in the world, designed to be so even without the use of technology, while our traffic management systems provide an extra layer of support for road users, using a range of measures including CCTV and variable speed limits to keep traffic flowing safely.

“We also have well-rehearsed procedures to deal with technical issues and our traffic officers are always on hand to help drivers and deal with incidents safely. We also recognise the pressures our employees are under performing vital tasks, which is why support systems and a range of 24/7 employee assistance options are available to them.”

As reported on: Safe Highways

Health and safety in construction is one of the most popular guides to Construction Health and Safety with the firsts two editions selling in excess of 250,000 copies.

It has been updated and expanded in the light of new legislation, in particular the Work at Height Regulations 2005.  It also features new information on recent advances and examples of good practice in the construction industry.  The book is primarily aimed at the small contractor but equally applies to everyone involved in construction, employers & employees.

It provides help and assistance on how to work safely on most tasks you will encounter.  It will also help to identify the main causes of accidents and ill health and explains how to eliminate hazards and control risks. The guidance is simple but comprehensive and the solutions are straightforward and easy to adopt.  It is also an excellent source of revision!

Edition three of this popular book can be downloaded free from the HSE website – here.