Property developer, PJ Livesey Group Ltd fined £100,000 and costs £21,404 > Manchester gas explosion

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A property development firm has been fined £100,000 following a major gas explosion that destroyed dozens of homes in South Manchester.

PJ Livesey Group Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the blast at the Didsbury Gate development on 8 December 2009.

Manchester Crown Court heard today (29 November 2012) that the former Withington Hospital building on Nell Lane was being converted into houses and apartments when a worker cut through a six-inch gas pipe in an underground tunnel.

The 41-year-old from Elton, Cheshire, who has asked not to be named, suffered burns to his hands and face when gas inside the pipe ignited. About an hour later, gas that had continued to leak from the damaged pipe ignited again causing an explosion that destroyed a large part of the site.

The emergency services evacuated residents from hundreds of homes following the initial gas leak, including 21 apartments at the Didsbury Gate development which already had people living in them.

Businesses, three schools, a hospital, two health units and a police station also had to be evacuated, and the Urban Search and Rescue team was brought in to search the rubble to see if anyone was trapped.

Debris from the site landed on The Birches Primary School nearby, damaging buildings, a play area and the power supply for the school.

The court was told that PJ Livesey Group, the principal contractor for the development, had obtained a diagram from National Grid during the planning stages of the project which showed a gas main running into the site.

However, the company did not arrange for a detailed survey to be carried out to find out where the pipe ran, and wrongly informed workers on the site that the gas pipes had been decommissioned.

PJ Livesey Group Ltd pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 after failing to ensure people’s safety. The company, of Beacon Road West in Trafford Park, was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £21,404.

After the hearing, Thomas Merry, the investigating inspector at HSE, said:

“This was a major incident that led to a massive emergency response and significant disruption to the neighbourhood. It was only luck that more people weren’t seriously injured or even killed in the explosion.

“It was unacceptable for PJ Livesey Group to allow the work to go ahead without checking that the gas supply had been properly disconnected. What’s worse is that the company actually had a National Grid document showing a gas main entering the site.

“A simple check would have identified it as being live, and avoided months of disruption and heartache for those residents who lost their homes.

“Construction companies involved in the refurbishment or demolition of buildings must make sure they know what potential dangers they’re dealing with before they allow work to start.”

Information on improving safety in the construction industry is available at www.hse.gov.uk/construction.

via RNN media information for journalists and the press – Press Releases – Property developer sentenced over Manchester gas explosion – RNN media information for journalists and the press.

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Dumfriesshire farmer fined for pollution offences | “Those who offend against our environmental laws will continue to be brought to account”.

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A Dumfriesshire farmer was fined £800 at Dumfries Sheriff Court for polluting the local water environment with silage and slurry effluent between July and October 2011.

Raymond Cassells, aged 40, of Mouswald Banks Farm, Mouswald, Dumfries had pled guilty on 17 September 2012 to two contraventions of the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003.

Mr Cassells produced silage and stored manure at his farm. He failed to control the overflow of effluent (liquid run off) from this, which flowed into his farm yard and entered the surface water drainage system. Due to a blocked drain, the effluent did not reach the Breconrae Burn. Had it done so, it is likely that significant pollution would have occurred.

Environmental regulations restrict all activities that are liable to pollute the water environment and specifically prohibit sewage or trade effluent being discharged into any surface water drainage system.

Craig Harris, Head of the Wildlife and Environmental Crime Unit at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), said:

“The neglect shown by Raymond Cassells could have had a horrific effect on the local water. It was simply fortune that a blocked drain prevented a far more severe environmental incident.

“The steps to prevent this offence were straightforward but were not taken and advice from SEPA was ignored. A responsible farmer would not act in such a way.

“Those who offend against our environmental laws will continue to be brought to account”.

via Dumfriesshire farmer fined for pollution offences | Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

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SpongeBob SquarePants bouncing back after E&S story causes a stir � Express & Star

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SpongeBob SquarePants bouncing back after E&S story causes a stir � Express & Star: SpongeBob SquarePants is coming back to Wolverhampton – after the Express & Star revealed thousands missed seeing him at the city’s Christmas lights switch-on because of health and safety red tape.

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Allerton girl is hurt by PE lesson sticky tape (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)

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Allerton girl is hurt by PE lesson sticky tape (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus): A Bradford school has defended its health and safety policy after being criticised by an angry parent.

Ash Mahmood said his six-year-old daughter Aisha was distressed, crying and in pain when he picked her up from Heaton St Barnabas because of tape put on her ear lobes to cover studs while she took part in a PE lesson run by Sports UK.

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“Don’t eat the flowers” – East Anglian Daily Times

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Sudbury: “Don’t eat the flowers” – News – East Anglian Daily Times: The green and white professionally produced plastic signs, which read “PLEASE do not eat the flowers” sprung up in beds close to St Peter’s Church on Market Hill this week. They have even appeared in two recently planted commemorative iron ladles, due to be officially unveiled before Christmas.

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Baby in lift shaft plunge terror (From The Bolton News)

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Baby in lift shaft plunge terror (From The Bolton News): A THREE-month-old baby had an amazing escape after plunging 15 feet down a lift shaft.

The boy is thought to have escaped serious injury thanks to his pram during the fall from the first floor of Smyths Toy Store at Middlebrook Retail Park, Horwich, at 12.20pm yesterday.

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Owner of Bangladesh factory ravaged in fire says he didn’t know it needed emergency exits – The Washington Post

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Owner of Bangladesh factory ravaged in fire says he didn’t know it needed emergency exits – The Washington Post: DHAKA, Bangladesh — The owner of a Bangladesh clothing factory where a fire killed 112 people says he was never informed the facility was required to have an emergency exit, a sign of how far removed the leaders of the nation’s garment industry are from issues of worker safety.

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Tamworth shopkeeper fined for selling out-of-date food | This is Tamworth

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Tamworth shopkeeper fined for selling out-of-date food | This is Tamworth: AN eight-year-old girl complained about the taste of a lunchtime snack bought from a Tamworth shop – before her mother discovered it was EIGHT days out of date.
The Kraft Lunchables item was purchased from the Costcutter shop at 15-16 Hospital Street – located opposite Moorgate Primary School – on Thursday, July 12.

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“HSE will not hesitate to prosecute companies who put their employees at risk in this way.”

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An Essex packaging company has been fined after one of its employees sustained a serious hand injury on an unguarded laminating machine.

Gary Dean, of Redstock Road, Southend-on-Sea, had the skin on the palm of his left hand torn away in the incident at Frith’s Flexible Packaging, in Southend, on 26 September 2011.

Sourthend Magistrates’ Court heard today (28 November) that he was using a glue laminating machine when he noticed an indent mark on a finished product. He put his left hand into the machine via an unguarded portal to scrape away dried glue residue from a roller that had caused the blemish, but his whole hand was drawn into the roller and the palm of his left hand was de-gloved.

Mr Dean was hospitalised for two days and required emergency surgery. This was followed by several months of physiotherapy to regain movement between his thumb and first finger, before he finally returned to work after two and a half months.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and found that Mr Dean had removed an interlocked guard on the laminating machine some six years earlier to allow him to set the machine up more easily. He and other employees, including his supervisor, had used the machine without the guard ever since.

Had the guard been in place they would have been unable to access dangerous moving parts, including the roller, while the machine was in operation.

HSE inspectors also found that although a risk assessment and a safe system of work were available for the laminator they were very basic, did not adequately set out the control measures or troubleshooting guidance; and staff were largely unaware they existed.

Frith’s Flexible Packaging was served an Improvement Notice by HSE to review their training plan, incorporating revised risk assessments and a safe system of work.

Follow-up enquiries revealed that a second laminating machine at the site had also had its guard removed, and that the company had failed to address this issue following Mr Dean’s incident. HSE therefore served another Improvement Notice for guarding requirements and a third requiring ‘competent person’ training to enable the company to properly manage its health and safety responsibilities.

Frith’s Flexible Packaging Ltd, of Coopers Way, Temple Farm Industrial Estate, Southend-on-Sea, was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £2,046 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Sam Thomson said:

“This incident was entirely preventable. Guards are placed on machines for a good reason and should not be removed for convenience. The fact the offending guard here had been missing for a number of years is particularly disturbing.

“Hand injuries from printing and laminating machines are a well known risk within this industry, and the company had been given previous advice on similar guarding matters. So measures should have been in place to protect Mr Dean and other workers.

“HSE will not hesitate to prosecute companies who put their employees at risk in this way.”

For further information about safety when using printing and laminating machinery, visit http://www.hse.gov.uk/printing/machine/index.htm.

via Packaging company prosecuted after worker injured.

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The Accused was aware that the existing fence contained asbestos – Maasprop Pty Ltd

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Maasprop Pty Ltd

Description of Breach(es)

Being the main contractor at a workplace, failed to ensure that asbestos work at the workplace involving more than 10 m2 of non-friable asbestos-containing material was done by the holder of an unrestricted licence or a restricted licence or a person employed or otherwise engaged by the holder of an unrestricted licence or a restricted licence contrary to regulation 5.45(2A) of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 (WA) (Regulations).
Background Details

As at 21 and 22 September 2011, the Accused’s name was Fencing Unlimited Pty Ltd (ACN 105 353 580). The Accused changed its name to Maasprop Pty Ltd (ACN 105 353 580) on 17 July 2012.

As at 21 and 22 September 2011, the Accused was a corporation principally engaged in the manufacture of fencing. The Accused engaged subcontractors to remove existing fencing and install new fencing.

The Accused itself was engaged by the owner of 6 Houston Crescent, Bunbury, to remove the existing corrugated cement fence on the boundary between 6 and 8 Houston Crescent and replace it with colourbond fencing. The existing fence was at least 26 m long and approximately 1.4 m above ground and 0.6 m below ground.

The Accused was aware that the existing fence contained asbestos. The Accused did not hold an asbestos removal licence under the Regulations.

The Accused subcontracted Donald Graham (t/a Distinctive Fencing) to remove the existing fence and install the new fence. Although Mr Graham indicated to the Accused that he was capable of removing asbestos fencing and that he had done so in the past, in fact Mr Graham did not hold an asbestos removal licence under the Regulations. The Accused failed to enquire whether, or otherwise confirm that, Mr Graham held the relevant licence.

On 21 September 2011 Mr Graham began work on removing the existing fence by breaking off the aboveground portion, leaving the belowground portion unremoved and scattering small fragments of fencing on the ground. This is contrary to Parts 9.5.2 and 9.10 of the Code of Practice for the Safe Removal of Asbestos 2nd edition (Code).

Overnight from 21 to 22 September 2011, Mr Graham left the removed aboveground portion of fencing uncovered in the backyard of 6 Houston Crescent. This is contrary to Part 9.10 of the Code.

Mr Graham continued work on the remaining portions of the existing fence on 22 September 2011. On neither 21 nor 22 September 2011 did Mr Graham wet the fence to prevent generation of asbestos dust, contrary to Part 9.5 of the Code; nor did he wear appropriate respiratory protective equipment, contrary to Part 9.7.1 of the Code, or erect barriers and warning signs in the area, contrary to Part 9.2 of the Code.

In fact, at the time Mr Graham was entirely unaware of the existence of the Code.

When the Accused was contacted by WorkSafe on 22 September 2011, it immediately engaged a licensed operator to remedy the situation and complete the removal of the existing fence.

In a voluntary interview, a director of the Accused (who is no longer associated with the Accused) explained that Mr Graham was originally engaged because the Accused’s preferred operator was not immediately available.

The Accused cooperated with WorkSafe with all stages of the investigation and prosecution.

via Prosecution Details | Prosecutions Database | Department of Commerce.

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