Archive for November 2008

RISK ASSESSMENT

Posted on 30th November 2008
HSE ‘example risk assessments’ relevant to construction

A number of example risk assessments are posted on the HSE website. An assessment dealing with ‘Factory maintenance work’ has now been added and it may be of interest to some building contractors. There are currently two specific construction activities covered by the example risk assessments. These concern  ‘Contract bricklayers’ and ‘Plastering company’.

Comments: There are mixed opinions on the value of ‘example’ or ‘generic’ risk assessments. Some argue they divert attention from carrying out a systematic assessment of risk in the specific circumstances applying in each organisation. Others see such assessments as useful tools to avoid reinventing the wheel. If HSE are to provide the assessments rather more than two are required for the construction sector!


POWER LINE DEATH PROSECUTION

Posted on 30th November 2008
Walker died after power company failed to heed warnings

HSE has warned those industries which ‘interface’ with the public to manage risks effectively after the electrocution of a man walking his dog on New Years Day 2007. Western Power Distribution (South West) PLC have been fined £200,000 and ordered to pay over £72k in prosecution costs after thye man contacted a 11k-volt supply. The line is believed to have fallen in storms.

Speaking after the Crown Court hearing, HSE inspector Steve Woods said: “the company should have heeded the warnings that its cables were unsafe and failure to do so resulted in the tragic death of Professor Levinsky. There are many people working in industries, such as farming, quarries, construction and utilities, which ‘interface’ with the public. This tragic incident should act as a reminder to all those who manage the risks created by these industries to be alert and ensure that they take the necessary measures to protect the public”


HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE

Posted on 28th November 2008
Prosecution Cases added to Register

Four (4) records relating to three (3) construction sector prosecutions were added to the HSE Register on 26/11/2008. The cases involved, with fines in brackets:

  • Dumper overturned on ramp. Two defendants. (£7.6 and £20k)
  • Fall of workman through a roof light (£6k)
  • Public risk from materials falling onto highway (£1k)
Enforcement Notices added to Register 

Nineteen (19) construction sector enforcement notices were added to the HSE Register on 26/11/2008. 

Comment: The above links enable you to review HSE construction sector prosecutions and enforcement notices as soon as they are added to the Register. This information provides an insight into HSE priorities and gives contractors, clients, designers and coordinators information on current or potential supply chain partners. To account for appeals and quality assurance 9 weeks elapse following conviction or issue of a notice before the record is added to the Register.


INCIDENT GAS STRIKE

Posted on 28th November 2008
Road closed after vehicle hits gas pipe exposed during roadworks

Homes were evacuated and motorists advised to avoid Newbury after a gas leak caused part of the A4 to be closed. A number of people spent the night away from home accommodated at local Fire Station. Carolyn Murison, the emergency planning co-ordinator for West Berkshire Council, told BBC Radio Berkshire that a ‘road cleaner went over an exposed gas pipe at road works, cutting it open.’


JUST A BIT OF FUN

Posted on 27th November 2008
Incident highlights the importance of detailed lifting plans

This short video clip illustrates that preparation of a detailed lifting plan is essential for safe lifting operations. The plan must consider ALL activities being undertaken in the vicinity of the lifting operation.


ASBESTOS

Posted on 27th November 2008
HSE warn building trade workers of the dangers of asbestos

The ‘Asbestos:The Hidden Killer’ campaign is designed to reduce the rising death rate from asbestos-related disease by educating those in the building trades about the danger that asbestos presents to them. Figures issued by HSE reveal that every week 20 tradesmen die from asbestos-related diseases and this number is set to increase

Asbestos presents a real and relevant risk to plumbers, joiners, electricians and many other maintenance workers as it may be present in any building constructed or refurbished before the year 2000. It is estimated that around 500,000 non-domestic buildings could contain asbestos and require repair and maintenance work. When the asbestos fibres are disturbed e.g. by drilling or cutting, they are likely to be inhaled.

HSE advise that “Those responsible for managing building maintenance and repair of non-domestic buildings, have a duty to inform tradesmen if asbestos is present in a building they are working in. Asbestos sprayed coatings, board or lagging on pipes and boilers – should only be tackled by licensed workers.”


FATAL INCIDENT OVERTURNING DUMPER

Posted on 27th November 2008
Workman dies as dumper overturns on Gloucestershire site
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PROSECUTION FALL FROM HEIGHT

Posted on 27th November 2008
Major client and contractor fined £300k after death of technician

Shell UK Limited and Amec Group Limited have each been fined £150,000 and ordered to pay £41,500 prosecution costs after pleading guilty to breaches of HSW Act Sections 2 and 3. The prosecutions follow an incident in November 2005 when David Soanes was removing stair treads on the Sole Pit Clipper offshore gas installation. He fell 5m to the landing below through the space created by removing two treads and suffered severe head and leg injuries. Mr Soanes was employed by Amec Group Limited and Shell UK Limited operate the Clipper installation.

HSE Principal Inspector, Dr David Perry said: the incident resulted from the companies “failing to manage well known and readily foreseeable hazards, in particular falling from height. Had the companies carried out adequate risk assessments and implemented and supervised the necessary control measures this accident could have been avoided”

Comment:

The oil and gas exploration industry website ‘Step Change in Safety’ is designed to the enable the sharing of information and facilitating cooperation in the sector in order to prevent such incidents. Anyone may access all parts of the site and read or download resources which will also be found useful by those working in onshore construction.


CDM COORDINATION

Posted on 27th November 2008
HSE to shine Christmas lights on CDMC and Client

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OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH

Posted on 25th November 2008
Action to help people stay in or return to work after illness 

New government measures have been announced in the report ‘Improving health and work: changing lives’ including proposals to replace the paper-based ‘sick note’ with an electronic ‘fit note’ and pilots for ‘Fit for Work’ services which will support people on a period of sickness absence to return to work. The announcement come in response to Dame Carol Black’s report, Working for healthier tomorrow’, into the health of Britain’s working age population.

Other proposals include:

  • Pilot occupational health helpline for smaller businesses – providing business hours access to professional occupational health advice on individual employee health issues (including mental health);. 
  • National Centre for Working-Age Health and Well-Being – an independent, authoritative body providing a range of functions related to the health and well-being of working-age people;
  • Health, Work and Well-being Co-ordinators – to stimulate action on health, work and well-being issues in their areas, offering advice and support to help local partnerships and engagement with smaller businesses in particular;
  • Challenge Fund – to encourage local initiatives that improve workplace health and well-being through innovative approaches to ensure worker engagement and;
  • Review of the Health and Wellbeing of the NHS workforce – this will be done in partnership with employers and staff and will identify action to improve the health and wellbeing of the NHS workforce.

HSE INSPECTION BLITZ

Posted on 25th November 2008
Blitz on property development and refurbishment projects

HSE Construction Division in London has ordered that work be stopped on 12 CDM projects because of concerns about unsafe working practices including work at height, unstable structures, fire risks, incompetent workers and dangerous excavations. Twelve prohibition notices and five improvement notices were served on the owners of buildings and contractors.

Inspector Sarah Snelling said: “Last year 77 workers died in the construction industry in the UK and over half of these were in the refurbishment sector, where the number of deaths rose by more than 60%. We have been working with Local Authority officers in this area for several months and have been appalled at the willingness of building owners and their contractors to ignore basic safety precautions. Our advice to those who work in the refurbishment and conversion sector is to plan work, use competent workers and, if working at height, use the right equipment and use it safely.”


COST OF ACCIDENTS AND ILL-HEALTH

Posted on 25th November 2008
Update on cost of accidents and ill-health published  

The HSE Economic Analysis Unit publish data on the cost accidents and ill-health.  Estimates for the average case of ill health now reflect the most up to date information available. The total cost for the average case of ill-health is now around £10k and the total cost of a fatal injury is placed at £1.5m.


BRITISH STANDARD ON H&S

Posted on 25th November 2008
Conference on new occupational health & safety (OH&S) standards

BSI are holding a conference at Manchester United football club on the 9-10 December 2008 to launch their forthcoming standards, BS OHSAS 18002 and BS 18004, designed to support and guide good practice application of OH&S in all organisations. The conference will provide a briefing on what the standards cover and will “look at the real-world application of BS OHSAS 18001 one year on from its publication, and provide the latest thinking and best practice advice on tackling current, pressing OH&S issues.”


STRUCTURAL SAFETY

Posted on 25th November 2008
Oxford Street closed after building declared ‘unsafe’ 

A section of Oxford Street between Bond Street and Holles Street is reported by Property Week to have been shut due to an unsafe building being redeveloped by Legal & General. The 21,000 sq ft shop has a double height glazed frontage and the existing Oxford Street façade is being retained. The facade is reported to have become unstable and the project manager therefore informed the authorities. The police closed the road as a precaution and Westminster City Council surveyors have visited the site. It is understood that vandals may have played a part in making the structure unstable.

Comment: The potential consequences of a building collapse in a such a location are enormous. All facade retention works require meticulous assessment, planning and implementation of the precautions for structural stability. CIRIA publish a useful best practice guide


VEHICLE LOAD SECURITY

Posted on 25th November 2008
Precautions required for load security on curtain sided lorries

HSE has published a 225 page Research Report on good practice for securing loads on curtain sided lorries. The report also signposts other practical, robust guidance on load restraint to minimise the risks to H&S of all those working on and around curtain-sided vehicles.

The report reviews existing legislation and guidance in the UK, Europe, and in North America and Australasia and current practice across a cross-section of UK industry, and assesses the mechanics of load shift and what systems of load securing are most effective in restraining loads.

The Report concludes:

  • Costs involved in securing a load (equipment and time etc.) must be set against the consequences of load shift causing product damage, vehicle damage, delays, death or injury or prosecution in the event of an accident;
  • Risk assessment and a loading plan prepared a competent person is the key to good load security. This does not have to be an onerous process but ‘thinking through’ the operation in advance may identify potential issues before they become a problem;
  • Communication between all parties involved in the loading, transport and unloading may help to avoid or ameliorate problems surrounding load securing;
  • Secure loads so they do not move relative to the trailer bed;
  • Load restraint is not the same as load containment. Some loads may require a combination of both;
  • Placed loads against the trailer headboard if possible and if this is not possible for reasons of weight distribution, the gap to the headboard should be filled or an intermediate bulkhead could be used;
  • Curtains and weather-protection structure are generally not suitable for load securing;
  • Friction alone should not be relied on as a method of load securing and;
  • Over-strapping loads is the least-risk method for load restraint, however it would not be suitable for all types of load. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to securing a load safely.

FATAL INCIDENT ON WATER PROJECT

Posted on 24th November 2008
Workman dies in fall from height on major water project 

A 38-year-old man has died during construction work at sewage treatment works. The fall occurred at the Yorkshire Water Knostrop sewage works near Leeds. A Laing O’Rourke spokesman told Contract Journal: “We can confirm that, on the 13 November there was an incident at a Laing O’Rourke project site at Knostrop, near Leeds that resulted in the fatality of a member of Laing O’Rourke’s supply chain.”

Police and the HSE Inspectors are continuing investigations at the site. This is the second fatal accident on a Laing O’Rourke group project during November 2008 and the third construction sector death on water industry projects since 1 April 2008. 


CORPORATE MANSLAUGHTER FINES

Posted on 24th November 2008
Delay before fines under Corporate Manslaughter Act clarified 

The Sentencing Guidelines Secretariat has indicated that sentencing guidelines in respect of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 will not be published until early 2009. The Ministry of Justice had originally suggested that the guidelines would be ready in Autumn 2008. 

Comment: This is a major piece of law and it is surprising that it came into force without sentencing guidelines established. Boardrooms will remain in doubt for some months to come. The consultation document suggested fines of 2.5 -10% of annual turnover. We unaware of any prosecutions commenced under the new Act although there are Police / HSE investigations ongoing.


FRAGILE ROOFLIGHT FALL PROSECUTION

Posted on 21st November 2008
Workman dies after 6m fall through rooflight

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STRATEGIC FORUM H&S GROUPS

Posted on 21st November 2008
SFfC turns attention to plant and the ‘non-engaged’

The Strategic Forum for Construction (SFfC) Health and Safety Group has reported on progress of the SFfC Working Groups and agreed the establishment of two new task and finish groups. The position regarding each Working Group is as follows:

  • Sharing Best Practice concluded after completion of the web portal for sharing best practice;
  • Tower Crane – concluded after tower crane guidance published; 
  • Competency ongoing and seeking to raise the competency levels across the industry. Working on client leadership; industry licensing or compulsory training and; improvements to the site induction process;
  • Worker Engagement – ongoing and seeking to improve worker engagement across the industry. Working on guidance on construction worker engagement in SME’s and a Worker Safety Advisor scheme.
  • Plant new group to harness the success of the tower crane sub-group and recognising the continuing health and safety challenges created by the use of plant on UK sites. Colin Wood, Chief Executive of CPA will chair the group.
  • Communications new group to seek ways of reaching the estimated 20% of the industry currently not engaged on health and safety issues

OCCPATIONAL HEALTH DUST CONTROL

Posted on 21st November 2008
HSE publish case study on dust control for power tools  

A construction sector case study concerning the control of dust from power tools in occupied premises has been published by HSE. The case study outlines how a contractor dealt with dust control on a project constructing a new teaching suite and making alterations to existing accommodation at a residential college.


UPDATE ON FATAL MEWP INCIDENT

Posted on 21st November 2008
HSE confirm workman crushed between roof and cherry picker

On Friday August 19 a 28-year-old workman died in hospital from extensive injuries caused whilst working on a construction project in Oxford. A short HSE statement has now confirmed that the investigation was still going on but that “It is clear that the accident occurred as a result of the operator of a mobile elevating work platform (cherry picker) being crushed between the top edge of the elevating platform and a roof rafter of the incomplete steel framed building.” A date for the inquest has not yet been fixed.

Comment: The danger of the MEWP operator being trapped against overhead and adjacent objects whilst in the platform was highlighted by HSE in 2005 and advice provided on prevention.


FALL FROM CHIMNEY PROSECUTION

Posted on 20th November 2008
Client and demolition contractor fined £1/4m after fatal fall 

Sellafield Ltd and P C Richardson & Co. (Middlesbrough) Ltd were ordered to pay over £325,000 in fines and costs after a workman fell 95m to his death whilst decommissioning a chimey on the Sellafield site in Cumbria. The workman was removing steelwork inside the chimney.

HSE Principal Inspector Mark Cottriall said “A safe working method had been prepared for removing the steelwork in the chimney. If this had been followed, Mr Cannon would not have had to leave the safety of the working platform that had been built inside the chimney. As often happens on construction projects, however, the proposed method was changed as the work progressed. These changes took place over a period of time and resulted in workers, including Mr Cannon, having to work on an unprotected ledge inside the chimney approximately 95 metres above ground level. Ongoing monitoring of the work in progress should have identified the changes and the increased risk.”


BOARDROOM H&S LEADERSHIP

Posted on 20th November 2008
Awareness rising now HSE to focus on behaviour in Boardrooms

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ROOFLIGHT FALL FATALITY

Posted on 20th November 2008
Scaffolder dies after fall through factory rooflight

A scaffolder has died after falling through a rooflight on a building at the Davidstow premises of Diary Crest in Cornwall. It is understood he was erecting scaffolding as part of work being undertaken on the roof. He was taken to Hospital where he subsequently died from his injuries. The man from Plymouth worked for M J Stone Scaffolding Limited who were engaged by the project principal contractor. 

HSE are investigating the death in conjunction with the coroner and the Police. A Dairycrest spokesman said: “We can confirm that a contractor was seriously injured in an accident while carrying out ­maintenance at our factory in Davidstow, on November 4. We were most sad to learn that he has since died from the injuries sustained in the accident.”

 Comment: We are aware of 5 fatal falls through fragile roofs or rooflights during construction work since 1 April 2008, representing 25% of all fatal falls in that period. The safety precautions required when working near fragile materials need to be more widely promoted so that Clients, CDM-C’s, Principal Contractors and Contractors have the issue at the top of their agenda especially when working on existing ‘industrial’ buildings.


JUST A BIT OF FUN

Posted on 19th November 2008
One way to load an excavator on to a lorry

This short video clip shows the ingenuity of an excavator operator in dealing with the problem of loading his excavator on to the rear of a lorry. Very clever if somewhat unorthodox … and dangerous? Not a system of work recommended by UK plant hire companies.  


HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE

Posted on 19th November 2008
Prosecution Cases added to Register

Eleven (11) records relating to seven (7) construction sector prosecutions were added to the HSE Register on 19/11/2008. The cases involved, with fines in brackets:

  • Concrete layer fell 4m through opening into lift shaft well (£15,000)
  • Concrete burns risk levelling concrete foundation (£500) 
  • Fell from edge whilst installing steel beam (£8,000)
  • Truck mounted telescopic crane overturned. Two defendants. (£10,000 each)
  • Accident circumstances not stated. Two defendants (£20,000 and £18,000)
  • Work at height accident and failure to report (£4,000)
  • Fall 3.5m through fragile roof (£235)
Enforcement Notices added to Register 

Eighteen (18) construction sector enforcement notices were added to the HSE Register on 19/11/2008. 

Comment: The above links enable you to review HSE construction sector prosecutions and enforcement notices as soon as they are added to the Register. This information provides an insight into HSE priorities and gives contractors and clients information on current or potential supply chain partners. To account for appeals and quality assurance 9 weeks elapse following conviction or issue of a notice before the record is added to the Register.


GAS RELEASE INCIDENT

Posted on 18th November 2008
Major gas leak after contractors damage high pressure main 

A 200m cordon has been established after serious and large gas leak in Weymouth, Dorset. Residents in the exclusion zone were advised to keep windows and doors shut.

Comment: Incidents of this nature rarely give rise to fire or explosion. However, the cost in terms of disruption and repair can be substantial and the noise caused by gas escaping under high pressure could present a noise hazard!  


LEGAL ISSUES ‘REASONABLY PRACTICABLE’

Posted on 18th November 2008
House of Lords soon to rule on HSW Act ‘reverse burden’ duty

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TUNNEL COLLAPSE DISASTER

Posted on 18th November 2008
Seven dead as tunnel under construction collapses in China

A 75m stretch of road over a tunnel has collapsed trapping workers building a new metro system and creating an opening into which vehicles have fallen. River water entering the tunnel has caused flooding to a depth of 5m. Nineteen others are reported injured. The incident took place in Zhejiang province. 

Comment: There have been a number of high profile construction project incidents in China during the last 12 months. The last major tunnel collapses in the UK were at Gerrards Cross (2005) and Heathrow (1994). Both are included in well presented case studies in an Arup presentation (4.8MB pdf) at a GeoTechNet meeting in 2005.


LEGAL ISSUES H&S OFFENCES ACT

Posted on 17th November 2008
Health and Safety Offences Act legal challenge inevitable

Law firm DWF believe it is ‘inevitable’ that the new Health and Safety Offences Act coming into force on 16 January 2009 will be subject to legal challenge. The DWF Head of Regulatory argues that:

” by making imprisonment an option for many offences, what was once considered a breach of regulations will become a criminal matter. The Act amends the existing Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. It raises the maximum penalties which can be imposed by lower court from £5k to £20k, increases the range of offences for which an individual may be imprisoned and makes certain offences, which are currently only triable in the lower courts, triable in both lower and higher courts.  The way the health and safety law works is that in many circumstances people are presumed guilty unless they can prove their innocence. In the case of Regina v Janway Davies in 2003, the Court of Appeal decided that this reverse burden of proof could be justified, in part because health and safety offences were not ‘truly criminal’ in nature. Given that one of the justifications for this decision has arguably disappeared, I believe that a challenge is inevitable.”


SAFETY IN DESIGN COMPETITION

Posted on 17th November 2008
Designers challenged to produce safer public spaces 

Students of design can take part in the ‘Public Spaces, Safer Places’ initiative which asks them to think about security features and safety issues when designing a fictional public space. The competition is a response to one of the recommendations Home Office Security Minister Lord West made last year in his review of how best to protect crowded places from terrorism. The competition is open to UK students of architecture and design and there is a £2,000 prize fund.


US BRIDGE COLLAPSE ‘CAUSE’

Posted on 14th November 2008
Investigators find fatal design error caused bridge disaster

At a two-day hearing before release of final findings and recommendations, the US National Transportation Safety Board has declared that the bridge collapse in Minneapolis in 2007 was caused by a fatal design error. This error finally led to the bridge to collapse following an accumulation of weight added to the bridge over its 40-year lifespan plus the weight associated with a new construction project. The incident caused 13 deaths and injured 145 others.

Carl Schultheisz, who conducted a sophisticated computer analysis of the collapse for the NTSB said “On the final day, the day of the collapse, there was this concentrated location of construction materials and equipment on the bridge. And all of those things combined to overload the gusset plates and cause the collapse”


JUST A BIT OF FUN

Posted on 14th November 2008
Case study in how to demolish a very tall chimmney

These pictures show how the challenge of demolishing a very tall chimmney was accomplished by one innovative contractor.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH SUPPLY CHAIN

Posted on 14th November 2008
Report on progress with HSE occupational health supply chain work

A progress report on the HSE occupational health supply chain initiative has been published. The initiative aims to improve the way occupational health issues are managed in construction. The topics that form part of the work are:

  • Paving – increasing use of mechanical laying;
  • Masonry Blocks – reducing manual handling;
  • Panel products e.g. plasterboard – use of mechanical lifting aids;
  • Silica – control of dust during kerb and block cutting and;
  • Drainage products –  promotion of lifting aid use.

The report explains the aim of each part of the initiative and progress to date.


CORPORATE MANSLAUGHTER UPDATE

Posted on 14th November 2008
Investigations put directors and managers under the spotlight 

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide (CMCH) came into force in April 2008. Since that time we are aware of over 30 deaths in the construction industry that will now be under investigation by the Police and/or HSE. In many cases, offences under CMCH will be ruled-out rapidly and the investigation will become the sole jurisdiction of HSE. For example, where the deceased is the only dutyholder or where there is overwhelming evidence that the incident is the result of unforeseeable action by the deceased. 

A proportion of the deaths since April 2008 have occurred on larger projects involving major clients and contractors. Deaths on such projects will be the most challenging for both investigators and those working in the investigated organisations. Informal feedback on live CMCH investigations suggests:

  • managers are being arrested at work as part of the investigations;
  • investigations are being conducted in an extremely rigorous manner;
  • site staff are being considered as part of ‘senior management';
  • police investigators are being supported effectively with HSE expertise;
  • significant time is being spent within investigated organisations and;
  • police are treating the CMCH offence as one step down from murder.

Comment: Rigorous, lengthy and wide ranging investigations were always likely to result from the introduction of CMCH and directors and managers can do very little to change this process. It is therefore vital that directors and managers focus upon matters that can be influenced including:

  1. Reviewing how your organisation measures up to the practical CMCH Guidance for directors and;
  2. Revitalising your existing health and safety management system to increase the likelihood that what should be done is being done throughout your organisation. 

CDM 2007 INDUSTRY VIEWS

Posted on 13th November 2008
Industry body considers how CDM 2007 is working

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PROSECUTION OF ROOFWORK CLIENT

Posted on 12th November 2008
Client and contractor prosecuted after roof fall

Read the rest of this article »


BUILDING COLLAPSE

Posted on 12th November 2008
Midlands building collapses for second time

Read the rest of this article »


HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE

Posted on 12th November 2008
Prosecution Cases added to Register

Three (3) records relating to two (2) construction sector prosecution cases were added to the HSE Register on 12/11/2008. The cases involved, with fines in brackets:

  • Fall of 8m whilst working to remove part of ‘balcony’ when the concrete slab on which men were standing gave way. No fall protection or fall mitigation measures in place. This was a fatal incident. (£125k)
  • Lack of safe system of work during piling operations. Failure to adequately assess risk. Resulted in amputation of leg above the knee (£17k)
Enforcement Notices added to Register 

Thirty-four (34) construction sector enforcement notices were added to the HSE Register on 12/11/2008. 

Comment: The above links enable you to review HSE construction sector prosecutions and enforcement notices as soon as they are added to the Register. This information provides an insight into HSE priorities and gives contractors and clients information on current or potential supply chain partners. To account for appeals and quality assurance 9 weeks elapse following conviction or issue of a notice before the record is added to the Register.


ELECTRICAL INCIDENT

Posted on 12th November 2008
Explosion during electrical work seriously injures workman  

A workman is being treated for “severe” injuries after an explosion during electrical work on a building site in Aberdeen. The the exact cause of the incident is not known and the injured man is reported to but in a stable condition. 

Firefighters, police and ambulance attended and a Scottish Ambulance Service spokeswoman said there had been reports of a “small explosion”. It was thought the man had suffered severe burns. A spokeswoman for Grampian Fire and Rescue Service said reports were of a “small fire in a building”, which was out when fire crews arrived.


MOBILE TOWER FALL PROSECUTION

Posted on 11th November 2008
Shopfitting contractor fined after fall from mobile tower

E&F Joinery of East Sussex is to pay over £30k after a workman fell 3m from an incorrectly assembled mobile tower scaffold whilst fitting ductwork at a new shopping centre. He suffered serious head injuries which consequently lead to deteriorating physical and mental health. Helen Donnelly, the HSE investigating Inspector commented that those involved in such work “should ensure that the work is planned properly and sensible measures taken so that workers are not exposed to risk” and that “scaffolding should be checked”


LIFTING OPERATION FATALITY

Posted on 11th November 2008
Construction worker dies on major PFI hospital project

The death occurred on part of a building under construction at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford. The BBC report that the a building has collapsed whilst other reports suggest masonry may have fallen from a crane after a gust of wind caused the crane to spin out of control. The main contractor is Bouygues. HSE are carrying out an investigation with the police. Our further enquiries suggest that the incident happened during a crane lifting operation involving installation of a structural beam.


FALLS FROM VEHICLES CAMPAIGN

Posted on 10th November 2008
Assessment of HSE falls from vehicles campaign published  

The HSE campaign on falls from vehicles has been assessed by researchers and the following conclusions and recommendations have now been published. The conclusions are:

  •  Awareness of the campaign was reasonable in terms of recall and recognition. There were lower awareness levels amongst drivers and better awareness levels amongst Fleet managers and those with HGVs;
  • Construction site managers where markedly affected by the campaign;
  • Risks of falls from vehicles awareness was raised but there was less impact on how to deal with the risk;
  • Views on responsibility and duty of care were influenced positively;
  • HSE was seen as an organisation from which to obtain information on vehicle safety and;
  • 50% of those aware of the campaign took practical action and half also planned to do so.

The researchers also make the following recommendations:

  • Longer term attitudinal shift may be achieved by a further campaign, especially regarding purchasing and specification of vehicles;
  • Messages should be filtered through managers to a greater extent. Findings indicated that targeting managers could be more effective than targeting drivers and;
  • Vehicle fleet operators should be targeted although others, without fleets, should be reminded of their duty of care.

EXPLOSION INCIDENT UPDATE

Posted on 10th November 2008
Worker remains critical in hospital as site stays closed 

Contract Journal has reported further on the explosion at the Laing O’Rourke site in Hertfordshire. A spokesman said it was too “early to be ‘definitive’ about when work would restart. Work will resume once all the necessary checks and HSE activities related to an incident of this nature have been concluded, and the site is passed safe for work to continue”. Meanwhile, a tribute, by the managing director, has been placed on the Laing O’Rourke website. The deceased workman  Adam Johnston, aged 38, was a family man and an advanced plumber and gas service engineer.


STRUCTURAL COLLAPSE

Posted on 10th November 2008
Building collapse on housing development site in Dorset

A four-storey house has collapsed in Mudeford, Dorset, during building work. There were no injuries caused by the incident although a nearby road was closed as a precaution. The cause of the collapse is unknown and HSE is investigating.

The developers said “Midas Group has stopped all work in the local area and is investigating the cause of the single house that has collapsed. The adjacent road has been closed as a precautionary measure and Midas Group is eliminating any possible further problems on the site. The debris will be cleared from the affected area as soon as possible. The site is expected to reopen on Tuesday.”


JUST A BIT OF FUN

Posted on 9th November 2008
Spot the construction hazards and reduce the risk

This drawing illustrates that hazards do not change over time although we can affect the risk! Workwear styles in the drawing date it at well over 50 years old. One thing that has changed is that there were almost 300 deaths each year in the building and civil engineering industries in 1950’s compared to 72 in 2007/08.


TOWER CRANE MANAGEMENT

Posted on 7th November 2008
Construction College launching tower crane management course 

Cranes Today has reported that a new National Construction College (NCC) course ‘Introduction to the Management of Tower Cranes’ is intended for those involved with or who are responsible for the management of tower cranes on site. The course is aimed at make managers aware of current legislation and their responsibilities and providing the right skills for best practice approach when it comes to managing tower cranes.

Andy Walder, Director of NCC, said: “through developing these courses with industry partners and through our experienced instructors, we aim to provide the industry with high quality training at first class facilities.” The two day course is aimed towards both those who have received no training and those who require refresher training. 


DRIVING FOR WORK

Posted on 7th November 2008
Driver jailed after ignoring Highways Agency Officers

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TOWER CRANE SAFETY

Posted on 7th November 2008
Bovis Lend Lease to fit tower cranes with ‘black box’ data recorders

Building Magazine have reported that recording devices, as used on aircraft, will be adopted by Bovis Lend Lease (BLL) to improve communication between tower cranes. The crane integrated safety system (CISS) will be employed on the BBC Broadcasting House redevelopment and introduced on all BLL major projects in 2009. 

Nick Pollard, BLL CEO hopes the system will become an “industry standard” and “will save lives and prevent serious injury”. The CISS package costs £12k including hands-free communication system, camera, TV monitor, black box, recording software, radio belts and handsets. 


FALL FROM HEIGHT PROSECUTION

Posted on 6th November 2008
Emergency roof repair work results in fall and fine 

Berneslai Homes Ltd of Barnsley have been ordered to pay £4k after pleading guilty to breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The prosecution follows the 5m fall of a workman from a roof whilst carrying out emergency repairs. After the hearing, HSE Inspector David Stewart said: “Falls from height are the most common type of fatal injury and caused 3409 major injuries in 2006/07. Work at height must always be properly planned, appropriately supervised and carried out in a safe manner. Berneslai Homes, failed to ensure that the risks involved in this work were adequately assessed and controlled.”

Comment: This case highlights that the emergency nature of work will provide no legal excuse for carrying out work at height in an unsafe manner. Securing personal safety takes priority over risk to property. However, anticipating such emergency work and planning / organising ahead is the key to success.   


SCAFFOLDING SAFETY

Posted on 6th November 2008
Major player insist scaffold contractors must be NASC members

BAM Construct UK has written to scaffolding contractors informing them that it believes that membership of the National Access and Scaffolding Confederation (NASC) represents best practice and that BAM is backing the NASC approach to health and safety.

Frank Garnett, BAM Director of Health and Safety at BAM Construct UK, said, ‘Our goal is continuing to reduce accidents and creating an incident free work place for the benefit of all personnel on BAM sites. We also believe in engaging with our supply chain for the betterment of the industry” and have therefore “committed our support to NASC by stating that in future BAM will only employ NASC member companies on all our construction sites.’

The policy change will be brought in over a period of time, allowing non members to align themselves and join the NASC. The company will work with partnering scaffolding contractors to ensure this transition is as trouble free as possible thereby allowing adequate time for committed companies to become members.

Robin James, NASC Managing Director, said, ‘BAM’s decision to use NASC members is a significant backing for the industry’s commitment to spread best practice and change regarding safe erection of scaffolding. It will help scaffolding contractors to use collective protection and comply with the Work at Height Regulations. This protects both themselves and those around them.’


ROAD DEATH STATISTICS

Posted on 6th November 2008
Road casualties trend is downwards during 2008

National Statistics on road casualties for the second quarter of 2008 show:

  • the number of fatalities in road accidents were down by 13 per cent for the twelve months ending June 2008 compared with the previous 12 months
  • total casualties were down by 7 per cent, and killed and seriously injured casualties 6 per cent, compared with the previous 12 months. 

EXPLOSION FATALITY

Posted on 6th November 2008
Site explosion kills one worker and leaves a further life in danger

One man has died and six people injured, one with life-threatening injuries, after an explosion on a construction project in Hertfordshire. A police spokeswoman said “The building itself has sustained some damage but remains largely intact which enables the search to be continued by police officers.” An HSE spokesman said the site was being renovated or converted. 

Local newspaper, Welwyn and Hatfield Times, reports that the construction project involves building and conversion work for a new data centre. A spokesman for the builders, Laing O’Rourke, told the WHT: “I can confirm there was an explosion earlier today at our data centre project site in Welwyn Garden City. At this point details are extremely limited. Our first priority is to our people and the community, and supporting the emergency services.”

Jon Smith, Group Commander of Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue, is reported to have said: “a cylinder of gas depressurised, there was no actual fire, the gas is inert, which acted like a missile and set off the other cylinders. Each cylinder weighs about 50kg and is about 5ft tall, they’ve made a real mess of the inside of the building, they’ve taken down walls and floors. They are argon cylinders which were actually being used as a fire suppressant in the building for the computer room. The building is under construction, there is significant widespread damage. The external structure is intact, but 50% of the internal structure has been affected, walls are down, floors are up and walls knocked out. These cylinders have become missiles and fired around randomly.”


FALLS FROM HEIGHT

Posted on 5th November 2008
HSE to host stand at National Painting and Decoration Show

The show will be held at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry on 11th and 12th November and HSE are hosting a stand in a bid to reduce the rate of fatalities, serious injuries and days lost through work-related injury and illness in construction and refurbishment industries. Jan Foers, HSE Awareness Officer, said:  “The National Painting and Decorating Show gives the trade an opportunity to find out first hand about the latest developments in improving health and safety.”


HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE

Posted on 5th November 2008
Prosecution Cases added to Register

3 records relating to one construction sector prosecution case were added to the HSE Register on 05/11/2008. 

Comment: This case involved three defendants on a construction site where a suspended pack of bricks fell onto a workman causing injuries that proved to be fatal. The deceased was not wearing head protection and was working below a suspended load. The three parties were prosecuted and fined a total of £8.4k. On sentencing in the Ayrshire Court, the Sheriff made a statement towards explaining the disparity between the minimal fines and fatal consequences of the offences.

Enforcement Notices added to Register 

21 records relating to construction sector enforcement notices were added to the HSE Register on 05/11/2008. 

Comment: The above links enable you to review HSE construction sector prosecutions and enforcement notices as soon as they are added to the Register. This information provides an insight into HSE priorities and gives contractors and clients information on current or potential supply chain partners. To account for appeals and quality assurance 9 weeks elapse following conviction or issue of a notice before the record is added to the Register.


COURT OF APPEAL JUDGEMENT

Posted on 4th November 2008
Fencing contractor ruled not to be an “employee” 

In the case of Harvey Jennings v The Forestry Commission the Court of Appeal considers the test of “employment”. The Court considered whether there was an employment relationship between the Forestry Commission and Mr Jennings and after considering the case of Lane v Shire Roofing Company (considered the most relevant legal authority), found that Mr Jennings had been “plainly acting as an independent contractor and not as an employee”. The Court went on to consider issues of control.

Comment: This case will be of interest to those involved in disputes over “employment” under health and safety law. 


DEMOLITION ROOF FALL PROSECUTION

Posted on 4th November 2008
Roof fall causes serious injury and lands demo contractor in court 

Demolition Dismantling Services Ltd has been ordered to pay over £5k after a labourer fell whilst removing a working platform from the roof of an industrial unit. He fell 5m onto a concrete floor and suffered serious leg and pelvic injuries. The company had (a) not provided suitable training and supervision (b) failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment and (c) failed to provide suitable safety equipment to prevent a fall. HSE Inspector Christina Goddard said: “The labourer was given a job for which he had absolutely no training, was working from an inadequate platform and there was no other form of fall protection. This was an avoidable incident which could have quite easily resulted in a man’s death. The company’s failings resulted in this man suffering serious injuries, which have resulted in ongoing disability and a reduced earning potential.


HAND ARM VIBRATION SYNDROME (HAVS)

Posted on 4th November 2008
Useful guidance for employees now updated

HSE have updated their advice leaflet Hand-arm vibration: advice for employees. The essential action points for those at risk to consider can be summarised as:

  • Tool Choice – ask if  your job could be done without using vibrating tools or by using suitable low-vibration tools. Use the right tool for each job. Less time means less vibration exposure;
  • Check Tools – before using to make sure they are properly maintained and that cutting tools are kept sharp so that they remain efficient. Store tools to avoid very cold handles when next used;
  • Work Practices – reduce the amount of time you use a tool in one go and avoid gripping or forcing a tool more than you have to and;
  • Personal Actions – keep warm and dry e.g. use gloves, hat, waterproofs and heating pads.  Give up or cut down on smoking and massage/exercise your fingers during work breaks.

Comment: Construction sector employers must make those using vibrating tools aware of these practical steps that can be taken. These actions should form part of a programme of HAVS risk management starting with an assessment of who is at risk, the control measures in place and what more could be done. There is a good deal of construction specific information available for employers on this subject.    


FALL FROM HEIGHT

Posted on 3rd November 2008
Surveyor survives fall through rooflight 

A surveyor is reported to be recovering after falling through a skylight on a building in Basingstoke. He was admitted to hospital in a serious condition , but is now reported as stable. HSE are investigating.

Comment: Falls through fragile rooflights and fibre cement roofs remain one of the biggest single causes of fatal injuries in the construction sector. This incident highlights that it not just industrial roof workers who are at risk. Client representatives, surveyors, architects, engineers and many other construction professions will occasionally find themselves invited onto or near an existing roof.  Before doing so, assess the risk and ask: is it essential to go on to the roof and if so are there any fragile areas on or adjacent to the roof. Building owners and occupiers have a duty to control and manage access to roof areas.


DRIVING FOR WORK CONFERENCE

Posted on 3rd November 2008
US host conference on preventing work-related driving deaths

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ROAD WORKER SAFETY

Posted on 3rd November 2008
‘Respect Our Road Workers’ launched with hard hitting DVD  

Road workers regularly survive near-misses when other vehicles enter road works despite the presence of warning signs. The Highways Agency (HA) has launched a new safety campaign, Respect Our Road Workers, including a hard-hitting DVD looking at the lack of respect some drivers have for road workers and the consequences their actions could have. The message is that road workers deserve space and respect to do their work as much as other professionals.

Graham Dalton, Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, said: “Between 2003 and 2007, 10 roadworkers were killed and 81 were seriously injured while working on motorways and major A roads in England. One accident is one too many, and these tragic incidents are avoidable. Road workers are out there doing a job to make journeys better for road users. They work close to moving traffic every day and deserve our respect for doing so. Our new toolkit is about encouraging drivers to use appropriate behaviour whilst driving through roadworks, to respect those working there and to help the construction and maintenance industry to do as much as it can for them too.” There are six simple messages for drivers near road works:

  1. Keep within the speed limit – it is there for your safety;
  2. Get into the correct lane in good time – don’t keep switching;
  3. Concentrate on the road ahead, not the roadwork;
  4. Be alert for works traffic leaving or entering roadwork;
  5. Keep a safe distance – there could be queues in front and;
  6. Observe all signs – they are there to help you.

ASBESTOS RISK

Posted on 3rd November 2008
Construction industry trades remain at risk from asbestos

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