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Health & Safety Executive (HSE): Recent Cases Blog

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is a regulatory body in the United Kingdom that is responsible for the encouragement and enforcement of health and safety within the workplace. In our weekly review of recent HSE cases we explore current trends and topics of interest from this week’s HSE Bulletin. This week we look at the potential dangers that can occur if thorough precautions are not taken in relation to machinery in the workplace.  

Andrew Brammer, Head of Regulatory Defence Services at Cartwright King commented,

“These cases demonstrate that even tasks which appear to be simple or routine can pose very real risks to safety, often with tragic consequences. Ask yourself this question: “Why do we do it that way?” If your answer is “…Because that’s the way we have always done it”, then you need to stop, review and risk assess that activity now. Sometimes activities develop over time, often called “custom and practice”. From a risk of harm perspective, the fact that an activity or operation might be routine or repetitive makes it no less potentially dangerous. Management of health and safety is a continuous not isolated activity.”

Vehicle Accident

A waste management and plant hire company based in Derbyshire has been fined after one of their employees was involved in a fatal accident between two vehicles while he was refuelling.

Derby Crown Court heard how a tipper lorry reversed into the worker while he was refuelling a road sweeper at the company’s site. The employee resultantly died of catastrophic head injuries after being crushed between the two vehicles.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation into the incident which occurred on 26th November 2013, during which they discovered that there were no marked or identified vehicle or pedestrian routes. Additionally, there were no rules or control of reversing manoeuvres and the lighting at the site was poor and below the legal standard.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £50,737.

Conveyor Belt Injury

A recycling company based in Nantwich has been fined after one of its employees was seriously injured after he became trapped in a piece of machinery.

Chester Crown Court was told how the worker was dragged into the unguarded conveyor which led to his right arm having to be amputated up to his shoulder. 

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive subsequently followed the incident which took place on 8th August 2013 and found that the conveyor belt was in very poor condition and access to the belt was possible as it was unguarded. It was also discovered that the employee had been working on an ‘indeed conveyor’ which transfers waste brought by skip wagons onto a picking line.

The Court was informed how the conveyor was repeatedly jamming in the lead up to the accident and that there was a lack of information, instruction, training and supervision provided by the company.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £13,000.

HSE Inspector Adam McMahon said: “Had the company assessed the risk, implemented the correct control measures and guarded the machine then the horrific incident could have been prevented.”

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