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CONSTRUCTION HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS:17-28 MARCH 2008

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SUMMARY 

The News Desk this week includes: safe use of mobile access equipment, construction fatalities during January 2008, a prosecution concerning an overhead powerline double fatality, Corporate Manslaughter alert and draft changes to the Coroners system.

For a printer friendly version of this information please CLICK HERE 

MOBILE ELEVATING WORK PLATFORMS (MEWPS)

Enforcement notices mentioning MEWPS

The above link finds prohibition and improvement notices issued by HSE Construction Division Inspectors where MEWPs are mentioned in the notice summary. These records show the range of circumstances in which HSE takes enforcement regarding their safe use.

Comment: Incidents involving MEWPs can be caused by both poor planning before plant arrives on site and operator error. HSE is currently focussing on the management of MEWPs on construction projects and in particular during the erection of large steel portal framed buildings. Some key points to consider when planning the management of MEWPs are:

  • selection of the most suitable type of machine;
  • transport and delivery to site;
  • storage and charging areas;
  • position prior to and during work;
  • handling of materials and any hazards during use;
  • maintenance, examination and testing;
  • operator training, certification and familiarisation and;
  • personal protective equipment, emergency and rescue procedures.

HSE are to issue a Construction Information Sheet (CIS) on this subject. Meanwhile you can access some useful information through our Web Library. Advice 

FATALITIES REPORTED TO HSE DURING JANUARY 2008

The following fatalities arising from construction work have been reported to HSE during January 2008. HSE state that “these initial notifications are not validated in that investigation has not yet confirmed that all the deaths were work related”.

   County (Age)                                  Description

  • Buckinghamshire (22)                 – Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Lancashire (47 and 39)               – Roof collapsed on two workmen
  • Oxfordshire (N/K)                        – Crushed between MEWP and fixed structure
  • London (52)                                – Deceased found alongside stepladder
  • Northants (31)                            – Tipper lorry struck deceased
  • Hertfordshire (44)                       – Groundworker found with internal injuries
  • Lanarkshire (56)                          – Fall of 15m from height
  • Swansea (40)                              – Fall whilst dismantling access platform
  • Midlands (59)                               – Fall from ladder      

OVERHEAD POWERLINES

Contractor fined after double fatality when lighting tower hits powerlines  

The dangers of working with plant or equipment where there is potential to come into contact with overhead powerlines is highlighted by this case involving a major road resurfacing project. The contractor was fined £90k after two workmen  were electrocuted when a mobile lighting tower came into contact with a high voltage overhead powerline crossing the worksite. 

Comment: The proximity of overhead power lines must be recognised and work properly planned with suitable control measures put in place. A second contractor involved in this project was recently found not guilty after protracted legal proceedings. This second contractor argued successfully that, as regards their role in the incident, the event was not foreseeable. Advice  

CORPORATE MANSLAUGHTER ACT 2007 

Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007 comes into force from 6 April 2008 

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 (CMCH 2007) comes into force on 6 April 2008. All construction related deaths will from this date be subject to a Police/HSE investigation into the circumstances to establish if the death has arisen from gross failure by senior managers within organisations involved. These investigations may explore the actions taken by clients, designers and contractors. 

Comment: The advice from Government is that whilst CMCH 2007 does not create any new regulatory standards it does provide the opportunity for organisations to think again about how risks are managed. Juries will consider how any fatal activity was managed or organised throughout your organisation, including any systems and processes for managing safety and how these were operated in practice. A major change is that investigations will look in detail at how health and safety was managed at senior levels. The Institute of Directors / Health and Safety Commission publication on health and safety leadership will therefore be an important benchmark.  Advice     

HSE ENFORCEMENT

Prosecutions added to the HSE database in the last two weeks  

The above link finds prosecutions taken by HSE Construction Division that have been added to the database in the last two weeks. Two cases were added this week involving (1) fall from height whilst installing roof trusses on a home extension and (2) fall from scaffolding used by a major UK home improvements company.  

Enforcement notices added to HSE database in the last two weeks 

The above link finds all Prohibition and Improvement Notices issued by HSE Construction Division and added to the database in the last two weeks.

Two JCB Group companies prosecuted after fatal incidents  

CORONER REFORMS UPDATE

Government to place the bereaved firmly at the centre of the Coroner process  

The draft Coroners Bill includes for the first time a strengthened obligation on organisations to respond to coroners’ recommendations to prevent future deaths, a revised appeal system and new inspection arrangements for the coroners service. Further changes to the draft Bill include:

  • provision for registered medical practitioners to notify the coroner of relevant deaths
  • juries being retained for work place death inquests
  • same duty to investigate deaths will apply where a death occurs abroad
  • local authority responsibility to provide and maintain accommodation for coroner
  • local or police authority responsibility to secure the provision of coroner staff needed. Advice

OTHER NEWS

HSE deplore excavator antics on YouTube

Two die in Miami crane collapse

Mothers, wives and girlfriends asked for help prevent asbestos exposure

AND FINALLY… 

Squinty bridge repaired

I hope you find our News Desk helpful and informative. Your feedback on the content and format is always much appreciated.

Best wishes

Philip Poynter

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