Ensuring that all members of staff have appropriate incident response training is a must for all businesses, no matter what industry you’re in. Without this in place, if something does happen situations could worsen quite quickly because you have no one there who knows how to react in an emergency.
Here are a few case studies of some of the biggest health and safety failures to have taken place in recent months that could prove to be just the inspiration you need to really prioritise your company’s risk assessment procedures in the future.
A leading construction company was fined £500,000 by Sheffield Crown Court after it was found that the company’s workers had been exposed to hand-arm vibration over the course of nine years. According to Planning & Building Control Today, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that the firm had failed to make sure that the risks to workers who use such tools were kept to as low a level as possible.
In addition, it had failed to implement and monitor appropriate risk control measures, and hadn’t brought in a suitable health surveillance system.
A care home was fined £3 million after a resident died of Legionnaires’ disease at the Essex-based nursing facility. Ipswich Crown Court heard that the proper control and monitoring measures weren’t implemented in order to safely manage the hot and cold water system when major refurbishment works were going on.
Those in charge of overseeing legionella controls and for taking essential water temperature measurements also hadn’t been trained to the appropriate standards.
“Mr Ibbetson and other residents were exposed to the risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease because adequate controls were not in place. The risk is more acute in care home settings because residents are more susceptible due to their underlying health conditions. We would expect those who have a duty of care to understand this and have the necessary controls in place to manage the risk,” principal inspector with the HSE Vicky Fletcher said.
According to the Guardian, the HSE has investigated numerous mistakes over the last couple of years that have led to scientists falling ill at labs run by private companies, hospitals and Public Health England.
One scientist contracted Shigella, which is a highly contagious bacterial infection that causes dysentery. The HSE found that there were over 40 mishaps between June 2015 and 2017, which equates to one every two to three weeks.
Back in 2011, Red Arrows pilot Sean Cunningham died after being ejected from his jet while carrying out pre-flight safety checks at RAF Scampton, the BBC reported at the time. Earlier this year, an ejection seat manufacturer was prosecuted over the incident and fined £1.1 million after the judge said the firm’s systems fell short of the required standards.
A plastic manufacturer was fined £1 million earlier this year after a delivery driver was fatally injured when he was hit by a forklift truck with large coils suspended from the forks.
An HSE investigation found that the systems of work were not safe as far as was reasonably practicable, with the company also failing to manage workplace transport in the yard where staff and the public were exposed to the risk of being hit.
In 2015, a ground worker was struck and run over by a tipper truck, sustaining serious injuries including several broken bones in both feet and legs, and severe damage to the blood vessels, injuries that resulted in him having his right leg amputated to the knee more than a year after the incident.
The principal contractor was fined £500,000 after pleading guilty to breaching health and safety regulations, and ordered to pay costs of £30,000.
According to the Guardian, 46-year-old cleaner doing work for a national railway company, died after falling onto a 750-volt rail during his night shift at one of the train company’s Sussex depots.
An investigation found that the equipment intended to protect workers doing such jobs was not in use, with the companies in question found guilty of breaches of the Health and Safety at work Act. Protection boards to keep staff members safe from the live rail were not in use, with all four available propped up against the buffers.
Back in February of this year, according to a local media media outlet, it was reported a refinery had been fined £400,000 after 50 tonnes of explosive butane gas escaped from their premises.
A refinery spokeswoman said at the time: “The release did not cause any harm but we accept entirely that it should not have occurred.
“The safety of our employees and contractors is paramount to us at all times. We have worked closely with the Health & Safety Executive throughout the investigation and have fully cooperated to provide all the necessary details. We have worked closely with the HSE in order to learn as much as possible from this incident and will share our experience within the industry.”
A theme park operator found itself making national headlines during to an incident on one of its roller coasters dating back to 2016. The fine was handed down after a Crown Court heard that an engineer felt pressured to get the ride back into service after it developed a fault not long before the crash, the Daily Telegraph reported at the time.
If you need any help carrying out risk assessments and making sure your place of business is safe for employees and doesn’t pose a risk to members of the general public, get in touch with us at HFR Solutions CIC today.