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CONSTRUCTION HEALTH AND SAFETY NEWS: 21 APRIL 2008

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SUMMARY

The News Desk this week covers: recent fatalities, CDM competence, roof truss safety, HSE enforcement, prosecution of construction director for manslaughter and crane safety. For a printer friendly version of this information please CLICK HERE

RECENT FATAL INCIDENTS

Two builders die in separate falls this week

HSE reported some 70 deaths (provisional figure) in the construction industry during 2007. We are aware of 7 fatal injuries since the start of the new reporting period on 1 April 2008. These deaths have occurred in the following circumstances:

  • Excavation collapse (2) – involving excavations on a small domestic extension and at a larger water industry project;
  • Falls (3) – fall through a fragile rooflight, scaffolder fall and a builder who from height on a block of flats;
  • Mobile Platform (1) – mewp overturning and;
  • Vehicle (1) – surveyor struck by reversing road works vehicle.

Roofworker dies after fall through farm roof

A 29-year-old man has died almost three weeks after he fell while working on the roof of a farm building. HSE and North Wales Police are jointly investigating.

Comment:  Falling through roofs or fragile rooflights remains the most common cause of fatal injuries when working on roofs. The majority of these deaths now occur on refurbishment projects as new build projects have seen the widespread adoption non-fragile rooflights and safety nets over the last 10 years. The big challenge is to influence the smaller contractor and refurbishment client to adopt the precautions required to prevent such deaths.

Workman dies after becoming trapped in lift shaft

A worker has died after becoming trapped in a lift shaft at a carpet warehouse. The dead man is thought to be a construction worker and to have become trapped between the cage of the lift and the lift shaft itself.

Comment:  Lift maintenance and repair engineers work in an environment where there is considerable scope for communication difficulties and for lifts to be started whilst persons are in unsafe positions. We are not aware of any standard advising on the design of safe systems of work for lift repair and maintenance work. This is a gap that needs filling.   

CDM 2007 COMPETENCE

Competence and accreditation under CDM 2007

Clients, designers, contractors and others must be competent as regards their CDM health and safety duties and likewise only engage other competent organisations. The CDM Approved Code Appendix 4 provides a framework for demonstrating and assessing competence and in recent months this has encouraged interest in:

  • preparation of statements summarising corporate CDM capabilities and;
  • accreditation schemes to help simplify pre-qualification processes. 

The preparation of a CDM Capability Statement is a good idea for all dutyholders and should help when seeking work from others who now have a strict legal duty to be satisfied as to the competence of your organisation before you are engaged. 

HOMEBUILD ISSUES

Roof truss collapse

This incident, from Canada, involves the collapse of roof trusses on a homebuild project and highlights a risk that is present on homebuild sites in the UK. It provides a timely reminder that structural stability can only be secured by detailed assessment and design, an established sequence of erection plus good on-site communication and supervision.

HSE ENFORCEMENT IN CONSTRUCTION

Firmed fined after telehandler overturns

A contractor has been fined nearly £20k after a telehandler, operated by an untrained worker, overturned. There were no injuries.  The firm was charged with failing to ensure the safety of both workforce and the public.

Prosecutions added to the HSE database in the last week  

The above link finds prosecutions taken by HSE Construction Division that have been added to the database in the last week. The eight records added relate to four separate incidents and all concern work at height. One case involves a fatality.   

HSE critcised for failing to publicise prosecution outcomes

The Centre for Corporate Accountability (CCA) has published research showing that HSE fails to publicise the vast majority of health and safety convictions including those involving deaths. This despite the fact that one of the main purposes of prosecutions is to act as a deterrent against others from committing similar offences. CCA report that the research shows that in 2007, HSE issued a press release following only 33% of prosecution cases.

Enforcement notices added to the HSE database in the last week 

The above link finds the117 Prohibition and Improvement Notices issued by HSE Construction Division and added to the database in the last week. These notices were served in early February 2008 when the HSE carried out an enforcement initiative on falls, trips and good order.  

MANSLAUGHTER

Construction director charged with manslaughter

The director of a construction company has been charged with the manslaughter following the death of a man on a Norfolk building site. He was also charged with four other offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

CRANE SAFETY

More than 25% of New York tower cranes alleged to be unsafe

A survey of New York City tower cranes following the crane collapse that killed seven people has found widespread safe breaches. This comes at a time when officials announced that the building where the accident happened should ‘never have received a permit’. Inspectors visited 29 tower cranes operating in the city, and found that eight of them had ‘unacceptable violations’.

Comment: These reports are very disturbing given the tragic deaths that were caused by the recent crane collapse. HSE have been responding to the recent UK crane incidents by a programme of visits to major users and hirers of tower cranes to check on arrangements for installation, use, maintenance and thorough examination .    

MP committee supports call for UK national crane register

Anchor failure cause tower crane collapse 

AND FINALLY …

Cornish drivers urged not be distracted by men at height

CONTACT

Information, Advice and Feedback: Call Philip on 01462 612 381 or just send an email

News Desk Update: Complete box above to be reminded when News Desk is updated

END

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