69 sites were inspected – 14 Prohibition Notices served

14 Prohibition Notices served

Dozens of Construction sites across the North East have been put under the spotlight as part of an intensive inspection regime by the Health and Safety Executive.

A total of 69 sites were inspected across the North East during the first three weeks of September and while the majority were found to be managing health and safety appropriately, work was stopped immediately on several sites. A total of 14 Prohibition Notices were served because the proper precautions were not in place for working at height.

The targeted campaign was in response to the continued loss of life and serious injury arising from falls from height. In the 12 months to April 2012, 49 workers lost their lives on construction sites in the UK, with falls from height being the most common cause of fatal injuries.

HSE Principal Inspector Robert Hirst said:

“Whilst the initiative was primarily to raise awareness of the problem of unsafe working practices, it is of serious concern that such a significant proportion of sites visited were undertaking work at height in a dangerous manner.

“Straightforward practical precautions are well known in the industry. Safe access equipment is readily available for purchase or hire and there is no excuse for workers, and the self employed, to put themselves in a position of danger when working at height.

“HSE will continue to maintain a strong enforcement profile where there is blatant disregard to safe working practice.”

via RNN media

Hospitals worst for unnecessary fire call outs – London Fire Brigade –

Hospitals in London are the biggest culprits when it comes to calling firefighters to false alarms, according to the London Fire Brigade’s top 10 list released today.

The top ten, all hospitals, accounted for 1,189 false alarm calls to the Brigade last year, more than three a day.

The nine worst each had more than 100 unnecessary call outs last year. Number one on the list is St. Georges Hospital and its surrounding buildings in Tooting which had 169 false alarms last year, around one every other day.

The other nine hospital sites and the number of false call outs last year are:

• Kings College Hospital, Denmark Hill – 163

• Chase Farm Hospital, Enfield – 161

• Ealing Hospital, Uxbridge Road – 159

• Hillingdon Hospital, Hillingdon – 143

• Queen’s Hospital, Romford – 131

• Guy’s and St.Thomas’ Hospital, Lambeth – 126

• Homerton Hospital, Homerton Row – 112

• Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel – 100

• Royal Free Hospital, Hampstead – 94

Despite a reduction of 23 per cent in the last five years, a fire engine is still called to a false alarm every 12 minutes in the capital, costing an estimated £34 million each year. As well as being costly for London, false alarms are a nationwide problem, with the Government estimating that they cost the UK around £1 billion a year.

Over a third of all emergency calls are to false alarms, with 40,839 attended last year. Of these over 27,000 call outs are to commercial or public buildings and mainly due to faulty or badly maintained automatic alarm systems. These unnecessary calls impact on the Brigade’s ability to attend real incidents, deliver training and carry out vital community safety work.

Fire alarms act as a vital early warning system, helping keep people safe by alerting them to fires and giving them more time to escape. But, the majority of false alarms caused by faulty or badly maintained automatic fire alarm systems or things like burnt toast, steam or cigarette smoke.

James Cleverly, Chairman of London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, said:

“Every penny of taxpayers’ money is precious, especially in the current economic climate. We can’t keep sending our crews out to non existent fires, particularly when a little extra care and attention from the owners or managers of buildings could solve this problem.

“This is about the Brigade being able to do the job people expect it to – attend real emergencies. The management of these alarm systems must improve so that our crews are not sent to needless call outs.”

The Brigade continues to work closely with organisations across the capital, such as hospitals, universities, hotels and airports, in a bid to reduce the number of false alarms it responds to. In 2009, the Brigade introduced call filtering to help reduce the number of unwanted call outs. Between 6am and 9pm control officers ask the caller why the alarm is sounding. If the caller confirms that it is not because of a fire then no fire engines are sent.

One organisation that has taken great strides to improve the number of false fire alarms London’s fire crews are called out to is King’s College London. Staff from the University worked closely with the Brigade to reduce false alarms by 44 per cent between 2007 and 2011.

via London Fire Brigade – Hospitals worst for unnecessary fire call outs.

Contractors, sub contractors and sub sub contractor failings #asbestos – £28,000 and ordered to pay £22,631 in costs

A Wokingham business has been fined for safety failings after two subcontractors were unwittingly exposed to asbestos fibres at Reading University.

Gardner Mechanical Services Ltd had been contracted to undertake a mechanical services upgrade in a room at the university. They subcontracted the project to a Newbury-based company, who in turn subcontracted two self-employed men, Andrew Lloyd and Steve Taylor, to do the work.

Reading Magistrates court heard today (8 October) that on 2 September 2009 the two men drilled through a sprayed asbestos ceiling coating. They had not been made aware that asbestos was in the room and thought all asbestos material had been removed by specialist contractors prior to their work starting.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that as the principal contractor Gardner Mechanical Services was aware that some asbestos-containing materials were to be left on the site. However, they failed to relay this information to the subcontractors in a reliable way.

The company also failed to ensure the asbestos was removed from the site before work started.

Gardner Mechanical Services Ltd, of Grovelands Avenue Workshops, Winnersh, Wokingham, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and Regulation 23(1)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. The firm was fined a total of £28,000 and ordered to pay £22,631 in costs.

After the hearing HSE inspector Adam Wycherley said:

“This case highlights the importance of effective planning when addressing risks in construction, particularly in refurbishment, where there is a higher risk of coming into contact with asbestos.

“Gardner Mechanical Services had a clear duty of care to relay important information to its subcontractors in order to prevent their exposure to asbestos, but this simply did not happen.

“As a result of poor planning on the part of GMS, two men were exposed to high levels of asbestos fibres, leaving them at risk of contracting serious diseases such as lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis of the lungs.”

Information on working safely with asbestos can be found on the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos

via RNN media information for journalists and the press – Press Releases – Contractors failed to alert workers to presence of asbestos – Regional News Network.

Johnson Controls Ltd prosecuted after worker run over by a cherry picker and loses leg

A building maintenance firm has been sentenced after one of its employees lost a leg when he was run over by a cherry picker at a nuclear site in Cumbria.

Ken Brown was escorting the vehicle on foot when it struck him at the Windscale site in Seascale on 5 May 2011.

His employer, Johnson Controls Ltd, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found there had not been a safe system of work for the task, and relevant training had not been provided.

Carlisle Crown Court heard the 62-year-old from Distington had been standing close to the front of the cherry picker to direct it along a one-way road at the site when it ran over his left leg. Mr Brown was taken to hospital where doctors had to amputate his leg above the knee.

The HSE investigation found that Mr Brown and other staff at Johnson Controls had escorted cherry pickers on foot several times a month, for at least 14 months, prior to him being injured.

The only advice the company gave to its employees when directing cherry pickers was to wear a high visibility waistcoat. No specific training was provided for the task.

Johnson Controls Ltd, part of a global organisation which employs more than 160,000 people, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of employees.

The company, of Waterberry Drive, Waterlooville, Hampshire, was fined £65,000 and ordered to pay £8,162 in prosecution costs on 8 October 2012.

Speaking after the hearing, the investigating inspector at HSE, Faye Wingfield, said:

“Kenneth Brown has suffered a terrible injury that will affect him for the rest of his life due to failings of his employer. Vehicles continue to be a major cause of serious injuries in the workplace, and the first principle of any employer should be to keep people and vehicles apart.

“It is questionable whether Johnson Controls actually needed a member of staff on foot to direct the cherry picker, given that it was travelling forwards along a road in a one-way system.

“But if the risk assessment decided someone was needed to escort the vehicle then a safe system of work needed to be devised. Employees should also have been given appropriate training, including how to communicate effectively with the driver.”

Information on how to prevent injuries involving workplace vehicles is available at www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport.

via RNN media information for journalists and the press – Press Releases – Firm prosecuted after worker loses leg at nuclear site – Regional News Network.

School audit of asbestos a $2.5m bungle | Herald Sun

A WAITER, printer and retail sales manager, who had no qualifications in identifying hazardous materials, conducted asbestos audits in hundreds of NSW schools under a $2.5million government contract.

In a damning report questioning the accuracy of the schools’ asbestos registry, the NSW Ombudsman has found the Department of Finance and Services was motivated by saving money instead of protecting public safety when it selected a cheap tender to do asbestos audits in 2335 schools four years ago.

via School audit of asbestos a $2.5m bungle | Herald Sun.

Stories of workers who went to work with every intention of going home, but never did.