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CONSTRUCTION HEALTH AND SAFETY NEWS: 23 JUNE 2008

Complete the News Desk Updates box and we will inform you when the news changes. You can use the Search facility to browse our news Archives. Please alert your colleagues and supply chain partners to this FREE service and let us know of any news, developments or products that we might share with others. Finally, please use our Ask PP service. You can ask questions on construction health and safety and receive a sensible reply.
  
Many thanks.
  
Philip Poynter   

RECENT INCIDENTS

Workman struck by skip during lifting operations

The workman is in critical condition after being injured during lifting operations involving a skip in central London.  

Serious accident at major homebuilder site

A workman is in a serious condition following a fall from scaffolding at the site of a major homebuilder.

WORK RELATED DRIVING

Report alleges official statistics underestimate death and injury at work

This report by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies argues that fatalities and injuries caused through work are far more prevalent than HSE currently includes in official statistics. Comment: This is an interesting report. The higher figure for workplace fatalities is derived by including deaths involving the public (2-3 per annum in construction), those not reportable under Riddor and fatalities arising from driving ‘at work vehicles’. The number of deaths involving driving at work vehicles is estimated by HSE/Department of Transport to be at least 1000 per year (all industries). Now that official construction fatalities are at historically low levels it is perhaps time to pay a little more attention to preventing work vehicle related driving deaths?      

TIMBER FRAME

Timber frame industry ‘disappointed’ at premature focus on fire safety

The UK Timber Frame Association (UKFTA) has responded to an article in Builder Magazine concerning fire risk in timber frame by announcing that they are very close to publishing new guidance on fire safety. There have also been concerns expressed about differential movement causing structural problems and these are currently being tackled. The UKTFA has published relevant new technical guidance for architects.

Further timber frame fire hits Scotland

PROSECUTIONS AND OTHER ENFORCEMENT

Fall through stairwell opening

A firm working on a new build residential property has paid £15k in fines, £5k compensation to the injured worker and over £3k in prosecution costs after an employee carrying out joinery work next to an unguarded stairwell fell over 5m to the concrete floor below sustaining serious injuries.

Prosecution after yet another fall through a fragile roof

A window fitting company has been fined £5k after an employee fell through a fragile roof whilst fitting new doors, windows and roof to a single storey extension.

Lawnmower overturns

A 28 year-old worker was severely injured when a ride-on mower overturned, trapping him between the vehicle and the safety barrier on a motorway. The contractor has been fined over£5k in fines and costs.

Prosecutions added to the HSE database in the last 7 days

This link finds the 8 records of prosecutions taken by HSE Construction Division which were added to the database in the last week including some high fines and a manslaughter case resulting in a prison sentence. The cases with penalty in brackets are: fragile roof fall fatality (prison sentence); fatality caused during a lifting operation (£330k); exploding electrical cable injury (£32k); overturned cherrypicker (£4k) and; injury caused when roof collapsed (£4k).

Notices added to HSE database in the last 7 days

The above link finds the 67 Prohibition and Improvement Notices issued by HSE Construction Division and added to the database in the last week.   

HSE to challenge Appeal Court decision on ‘fanciful’ risk

The Court of Appeal has held in a recent judgement that there is no obligation upon an employer to guard against risks that are merely ‘fanciful’. The fact that risk was part of everyday life went to the issue of whether an injured person had been exposed to real risk by the conduct of the operation in question.

Accident induced suicide can be caused by negligence – See Page 10

Estimates of future Corporate Manslaughter fines 

Court upholds fork truck fine

REFURBISHMENT

Refurbishment blitz on Teeside and Newcastle

Construction firms carrying out refurbishment projects on Teesside and Newcastle are being targeted by HSE for the second time in five months in order to crackdown on dangerous working practices. A series of random spot checks in February 2008 led to work being stopped on a number of sites. HSE inspectors will be checking that:

* Jobs involving work at height are planned with appropriate precautions in place;

* Equipment is correctly installed / assembled, inspected and maintained and used;

* Sites are well organised to avoid trips and falls;

* Walkways and stairs are free from obstructions;

* Work areas are clear of unnecessary materials and waste;

* The workforce is made aware of risk control measures.

Comment: HSE look to be raising the stakes and have stated “we will not tolerate poor standards and will take appropriate enforcement action proactively as well as when an accident occurs.” Such enforcement initiatives are being carried out across the refurbishment sector in 2008 and all refurb projects would be well advised to review their performance and systems.

ASBESTOS

Mesothelioma deaths statistics published

The latest picture for mesothelioma mortality in Great Britain was published last week. The number of mesothelioma related deaths is reported at just over 2000 per annum and the annual total number is predicted to peak at between current levels and 2450 deaths during the period 2011 to 2015. Comment: Asbestos is no longer used in construction processes, however, there is still a significant risk presented by the vast quantity of asbestos present in existing buildings. Great care is required when planning projects, especially maintenance and repair work, to establish the presence of asbestos and take proper precautions. HSE have identified the need to raise awareness amongst tradesmen e.g. electricians, plumbers and carpenters and joiners.

Compensation awarded for mesothelioma death

The human face behind these recent statistics is drawn by this case of a painter and decorator who has died from mesothelioma at the age of 58.

UNDERGROUND SERVICES

Avoiding underground services

This site is a collaboration between National Grid and PowerSystems, working together to achieve zero damages to underground plant and utility apparatus. 

CRANE SAFETY

US task force established to look at tower crane safety

The US crane association (SC&RA) has formed a tower crane task force to review recent tower crane incidents and put forward a set of industry best practices. There are over 2,000 tower cranes in use in the USA on any given day and an estimated 105,000 lifts each day. US experts have identified that human factors are more critical than flaws associated with the equipment or technology.

OTHER NEWS

Seminar for scaffolding industry in Scotland

European risk assessment campaign set for October 2008 

HSE Construction Infonet June edition

AND FINALLY…

A further service has been added to the PP Construction Safety website – visitors can now Ask PP. This facility enables visitors to ask up to two questions on construction health and safety and receive a clear, authoritative reply, usually within 48 hours. Ongoing access to advice by email and telephone can be provided for a fixed monthly fee. 

END

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