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CONSTRUCTION HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS: 31 MAR 2008

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SUMMARY 

The News Desk this week covers: corporate manslaughter: an excavation fatality; death of a fitter caused by a falling dump truck bed; construction injury statistics 2007/08; CDM notification changes and details of recent HSE enforcement action in construction. For a printer friendly version of this information please CLICK HERE

NEW CORPORATE MANSLAUGHTER OFFENCE

Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 now in force

The new law came into force on Sunday April 6th 2008.  Companies, organisations and government bodies now face a criminal offence, larger fines and massive reputational damage if a death is caused by their gross corporate health and safety failures. Well-run businesses that already have effective systems in place for managing health and safety have nothing to fear from the new legislation but should nevertheless review their arrangements. Key points to note about the Act are that it:

  • does not require organisations or businesses to comply with new regulatory standards;
  • makes it easier to prosecute when gross failures in corporate management lead to death;
  • has reformed the law so that a company can be convicted without a person at the top of the company being personally liable;
  • allows both small and large companies be held liable for manslaughter;
  • does not apply to individuals (directors, senior managers etc.) but does not affect the existing liability of individuals to prosecution for manslaughter and health and safety offences and;
  • lifts the current immunity to manslaughter prosecution from Crown bodies (such as government departments).

Comment: The latest construction deaths reported below provide a timely reminder of the serious risks that construction can involve. Leaders within construction client, designer and contractor organisations should however focus on the positive measures that can be taken to avoid becoming involved in a corporate manslaughter investigation. The Act is an opportunity to review company health and safety policies, systems and culture in order to be fully satisfied that they are fit for purpose and sufficiently robust. Advice 

EXCAVATION COLLAPSE FATALITY

Workman dies after excavation collapse on water industry project

An investigation has been launched after a 30-year-old workman was killed whilst laying pipes in a trench. The man is believed to have been working on a sewerage system for a contractor on behalf of Scottish Water. It is thought that he had been standing next to the trench when it collapsed.

Comment: This incident highlights the continuing risk from excavations despite a reduction in excavation deaths in recent years to around 2-3 each year. Steps can be taken by designers and contractors to reduce the incidence of such deaths. Precautions include: elimination of excavations where practicable (e.g. use of trenchless methods); designs and systems of work that avoid the need to enter excavations; battering excavation sides to angles of safe repose and the provision of temporary support. Whatever precautions are chosen they must be properly communicated to all involved, supervised and monitored. Advice  

DUMP TRUCK DEATH

Fitter crushed by falling dump truck bed

A fitter has been crushed to death beneath a dump truck on his first day of work at a construction site. The man, in his 20s, was contracted to repair a hydraulic fault with the vehicle. He suffered fatal injuries when the two-tonne tipper section fell on him. 

Comments: A good deal of construction plant repairs are undertaken in the arduous environment of a construction site rather than at a plant maintenance workshop. The systems that contractors have in place need to include temporary support of plant during such maintenance. Advice  

CDM REGULATIONS 2007

Notification form for CDM projects is revised

The form that can be used for notifying HSE of the prescribed particulars regarding CDM projects has been update. The form can be downloaded from the HSE website but cannot yet be completed and submitted on-line.

Comment: Clients (commercial) for construction projects likely to last more than 30 days are required to appoint a CDC-coordinator (CDM-C) as soon as is practicable after initial design has begun. The CDM-C must thereafter notify the project to HSE. Designers need to be aware that CDM prohibits commencement of design work unless the client is aware of their duties under CDM. Designers are advised to have a simple system are in place to comply with this duty and be able demonstrate that sufficient steps have been taken. Advice         

CONSTRUCTION FATAL INJURIES 2007/08

Contract Journal article focuses of construction accident statistics  

Unvalidated construction fatal injury statistics  

HSE has confirmed that number of (unvalidated) construction worker deaths for the period 2007/08 has reduced to 69 from a figure of 77 in 2006/07. The final official figure will not be published until later in 2008. 

Comment: This reduction suggests that the sudden increase in construction worker deaths in 2006/07 may have been a temporary rise caused by increases in the refurbishment and homebuild sectors. When the number of deaths are around 70-80 per annum we should perhaps expect year on year variations of 10% or more. An accurate assessment of fatal injury trends and progress in prevention needs to be considered across a much longer period. In the 1950’s there were almost 300 deaths each year and the number fell in the 1980’s and 90’s to around 100 deaths per annum. Advice

HSE ENFORCEMENT

Prosecutions added to the HSE database in the last week  

The above link finds four prosecutions taken by HSE Construction Division that have been added to the database this week. Two of the cases involved risks during floor construction (a fall from height and a floor collapse).   

Enforcement notices added to HSE database in the last week 

The above link finds the 36 Prohibition and Improvement Notices issued by HSE Construction Division and added to the database this week.

OTHER NEWS

New regulators compliance code published

HSE and HSC merge to form a single regulatory body

AND FINALLY… 

Wolf whistles banned by major contractor 

  

END

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