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  • £200k fine for maritime firm after employee fractures foot
    A maritime freight and logistics company has been fined after a worker suffered multiple bone fractures to his foot when a forklift truck was driven over it.A worker was injured when a 15-tonne forklift truck drove over his foot during unloading and stacking of steel coils in a shed at premises in Corporation Road, Newport, Newport Magistrates Court was told. The incident happened on 5 January 2018.The HSE’s investigation found that there was inadequate control of workplace transport risks. The company had also failed to conduct a suitable and sufficient assessment of controls for workplace transport.Simec Ports (UK) Limited, formerly known as Cargo Services (UK) Ltd, was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company has been fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,732.04.Speaking after the case, HSE Inspector, Sian Donne said: “Failure to ensure that workplace transport is managed safely is a serious breach of fundamental health and safety duties.”

  • £120k fine for manufacturer after employee fatally crushed
    A manufacturer of adhesive tape has been fined after a worker was fatally injured while operating a rewind slitting machine.Mr Brett Dolby was operating the machine, designed to cut a large roll of adhesive material into narrower rolls, when he was drawn into an in-running nip between a rotating roller and the adhesive material. Mr Dolby’s colleagues found him trapped in the machine at the factory in Dunstable, having suffered fatal crush injuries. The incident happened on 10 April 2018.The HSE’s investigation found that Mr Dolby was required to work close to an unguarded in-running nip whilst the rewind slitting machine was in operation, which presented a hazard due to rotating parts. The risk assessment for the machine was inadequate because it failed to identify the in-running nips and other hazards on the machine. Therefore, machine operators were provided with inadequate information and training relating to the risks associated with this operation; and employees were placed at severe risk of injury.The company previously received advice in 2012 from both the HSE and an external consultant in relation to the guarding of machinery on site, but had failed to take action to ensure the necessary guarding of the rewind slitting machine prior to the incident in April 2018.Scapa UK Limited of Ashton Under Lyne, Manchester, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £120,000 with full costs of £15,192.68.After the hearing HSE Inspector Emma Page said: “This tragic incident could easily have been prevented if the company had properly assessed and applied effective control measures to minimise the risks from dangerous parts of the machinery.“The dangers associated with in-running nips are well known, and a wealth of advice and guidance is freely available from HSE and other organisations.”

  • 71% of all UK excavation work is now preceded by a thorough search for pipes and...
    ‘Tipping point’ reached, in terms of safe digging in Britain, as searching revolution leaves workers safer than ever, according to LSBUD Digging Up Britain 2020 report, but there remains ‘work to be done to ensure total safety’.Digging-Up-Britain-2020-report-212x300.jThe Digging Up Britain 2020 report, produced by LSBUD, which provides a free to use online underground asset search facility, has provided a welcome safety boost to UK excavation work, by revealing that 71% of all digging work that takes place in the UK is now preceded by a thorough search for pipes and cables.The report details that a record 2,832,027 enquiries were registered on its collaborative portal in 2019. This is a 10% increase on the previous year, and almost double that of just five years ago. A search enquiry was placed every 3.7 seconds during the average working day.Richard Broome, Managing Director of LSBUD, comments: “We have reached a ‘tipping point’ in terms of safe digging – both for the UK’s underground pipes and cables, and those who dig near them. Asset searching on the LSBUD portal has rapidly become second nature for people. It’s now a standard step in the vast majority of excavation projects. It’s great to see it now such an intrinsic part of safe working practices.”LSBUD has also identified changes in behaviour from asset owners. 2019 saw more utility companies using the data generated by the portal to manage risk, futureproof their networks, and better identify areas of potential weakness. They are increasingly using historical data to predict who is likely to work within the vicinity of their network, the type of work they are going to do, when they are going to do it and the exact locations – to better target advice, support and supervision.Excavation-search-numbers-1.jpgIncrease in ‘emergency searches’Digging Up Britain 2020 not only analyses the volumes but also the type of digging work taking place. It reports that ‘emergency searches’ increased by 59% on the previous year and 197% on two years ago with 316,922 searches deemed as urgent in 2019. This is a key consideration for health and safety professionals as emergency projects are more likely to result in an asset strike of a more severe nature.Richard Broome adds: “This continued growth in emergency projects is worrying. While our portal delivers results often in minutes, if an asset isn’t registered with us, the firm doing the digging will need to deal with the asset owner directly and that can take up to 28 days. This time scale does not fit with the idea of an ‘emergency’ – so corners may be cut, and assets struck due to the need for speed. That’s a real health and safety concern, which is why it’s so important for all asset owners to come on board.”The Report also identifies whose workers are doing the majority of digging and therefore provides an indicator of the workforces most vulnerable to asset-strikes. As in previous years, the majority of digging work is done on behalf of the telecoms sector, with its contractors and operators completing 911,455 searches and making up 32% of all searches in 2019. The water industry followed with 592,126 searches, accounting for 21% of the total.Whilst the telecoms and water industries did more searches than ever before, their overall share of the total fell. This is due to a 10% increase in enquiries by private individuals, and a surge by agricultural businesses, where searches increased by 42%.Richard-Broome-219x300.jpgRichard Broome continues: “It is good to see the number of searches increasing, but there is still work to be done in order to ensure total safety of workers, contractors and the general public when it comes to digging. In 2019 there were still 1,230 safety related electrical incidents reported to the HSE, 73 of these were injury related. Gas related incidents have steadily come down since 2013, but still there were 1,248 reported to the HSE.”Digging Up Britain 2020 suggests safety could be improved through all asset owners getting involved in the collaborative search portal. Whilst the number is growing, just 10% of water companies currently share their asset information via the LSBUD portal. This means the water sector remains incredibly vulnerable to asset strikes, and those digging near its assets are doing so without a full picture of what is beneath them. This is in stark contrast to gas and electricity companies where 80 and 70% respectively share their network data.Richard Broome concludes: “We have seen significant strides taken in terms of the volumes of assets which can now be easily found, and the numbers of thorough searches taking place before a spade hits the ground. But there is more that can be done.“On the asset owner side, we hope the remaining utility companies recognise the benefits of sharing their information through our portal. In terms of searching, we want to keep the momentum going and get even more people who are doing the digging, be they employees, contractors, or private individuals, to complete a search before any digging work begins. If we have change like this from both sides, and have everyone pulling in the same direction, assets and people will be safer.”

  • HSE issues MoD with Crown Censure following death of military diver
    The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been issued with a Crown Censure by the HSE after a military diver died during training.Lance Corporal George Partridge, aged 27, was brought back to surface after he stopped responding to lifeline signals while he was underwater. He was sadly pronounced dead after CPR was performed. He had been on a training course at the National Diving and Activity Centre in Chepstow on 26 March 2018. Lance Corporal Partridge and his dive buddy were tasked with attaching a distance line from the base of a shot line to the underwater wreck of a helicopter at a depth of 27m. When he was recovered his cylinders were found to be empty.HSE served two Crown Improvement Notices relating to the failure to train all army divers how to undertake air endurance calculations and to assess the risk of a diver running out of air.Julian Turvey, a HSE Inspector who specialises in diving, said: “This was a tragedy for all concerned however just like any other employer, the MoD has a responsibility to reduce dangers to its personnel, as far as they properly can. The scenario of a diver running out of air is a very real risk that needs to managed.”By accepting the Crown Censure, the MoD admitted breaching its duty under Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 in that they failed to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all its employees, including George Partridge, in relation to the risks associated with diving exercises.The MoD cannot face prosecution in the same way as non-Government bodies and a Crown Censure is the maximum sanction for a government body that HSE can bring. There is no financial penalty associated with Crown Censure, but once accepted is an official record of a failing to meet the standards set out in law.

  • Four in 10 police officers say they were assaulted last year and attacks on fire...
    A poll of more than 40,000 police officers in England and Wales has said that almost four in ten said they had been assaulted in the last year, while latest government figures show that attacks on firefighters in England have surged by 66% in four years.police-officers-3546836_1920-300x199.jpgThe research, carried out by the College of Policing, also found that 88% of officers said they had been assaulted at some stage during their career and three-quarters stated a desire to carry Taser stun guns every day.Earlier this year, SHP reported that the maximum sentence for assaulting an emergency worker would be doubled, following a consultation by Government. It was also announced in April by Director of Public Prosecutions that Anyone using coronavirus to threaten emergency and essential workers would face serious criminal charges.This latest research was commissioned by National Police Chiefs Council Head Martin Hewitt, who said he was shocked by the scale of the assaults and added that a third of officers said they were unhappy with the personal safety training they received.The BBC reports that, in 2018-19, there were 31,000 assaults on officers – equivalent to 328 assaults per 1,000 constables, up from 284 per 1,000 the previous year.The College of Policing report also found:
    • More than two in five police officers killed between 2008 and 2019 died while travelling to and from work. Police chiefs are researching links between shift work and road accidents;
    • Every chief constable will review whether frontline officers and staff have enough Tasers, body armour, spit and bite guards, protective gloves and high-visibility clothing;
    • Trials of new technology and equipment to prevent assaults will be speeded up, including changes in police vehicles and remotely operated devices to immobilise vehicles;
    • A “hard-line” approach will be taken into investigations of assaults against officers, with the default position that the alleged offender will be arrested.
    Huge rise in attacks on firefightersFirefighters-300x195.jpgThe Local Government Association has called for tougher sentences to help tackle a ‘sickening’ rise in attacks on fire crews.Attacks on firefighters in England have surged by 66% in the last four years, from 578 in 2014/15 to 961 in 2018/19, according to the latest government figures. The number of firefighters injured following attacks during this period have soared by 175%, from 24 to 66. The data also showed that attacks have increased during lockdown in some areas.Attacks on emergency workers became a specific crime in 2018, but only 17% of the 9,000 offenders who have since been sentenced for this offence have received an immediate jail term, according to the National Fire Chiefs Council.Cllr Ian Stephens, Chair of the LGA’s Fire Services Management Committee, said: “It’s completely unacceptable for emergency service workers to be subject to attacks, aggression or acts of vandalism while protecting the public. The rising trend in violence towards firefighters is sickening.“Our firefighters, like all emergency service workers, do a fantastic job in protecting our local communities and saving lives and should deserve our completely respect.“The senseless violent actions of a minority of people puts firefighters at risk of injury or even worse and can also stop them from attending an emergency where lives may be at risk.“Firefighters deserve complete protection. Increasing the maximum sentence for assaults on firefighters will show that these attacks will not be tolerated.”

  • Senate bill aimed at limiting employer liability during COVID-19 pandemic
    Washington — Legislation recently introduced in the Senate would temporarily limit COVID-19 liability for employers who comply with public health guidelines and aren’t acting with “gross negligence.”Cornell University Law School defines “gross negligence” as “a lack of care that demonstrates reckless disregard for the safety or lives of others, which is so great it appears to be a conscious violation of other people’s rights to safety.” The school adds that “gross negligence” is more than a simple, inadvertent act.The Safeguarding America’s Frontline Employees To Offer Work Opportunities Required to Kickstart the Economy (SAFE TO WORK) Act (S. 4317), introduced July 27 by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and co-sponsored by 19 other Republicans – including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), would provide liability protection to establishments that employ frontline workers such as teachers, doctors and nurses, among others. Additionally, the bill would limit liability from personal injury lawsuits brought against businesses, schools, colleges, nonprofit organizations or churches. These protections would be effective until Oct. 1, 2024.“These protections would apply to personal injury lawsuits stemming from actual exposure to coronavirus as well as feared or potential exposure,” Cornyn says in a July 27 press release. “This legislation would protect those acting in good faith from being sued into oblivion while ensuring bad actors who willingly put their patients, employees or customers in danger will still be held accountable.”

    in a separate July 27 press release, the advocacy group American Association for Justice claims the bill would “give sweeping liability immunity to corporations” and “increase infection rates, make consumers and workers less safe, and prolong the pandemic because businesses will be allowed to act unreasonably knowing they are immune from accountability.”The association adds that the bill “doesn’t address one action that businesses and lawmakers from both parties have been calling for: enforceable, science-based workplace standards to help businesses protect their customers and workers.”At press time, the bill had been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

  • COVID-19 pandemic: Oregon OSHA seeks input on draft of emergency temporary stand...
    Salem, OR — Oregon OSHA is accepting public comment through Aug. 31 on a draft emergency temporary standard intended to protect workers from exposure to COVID-19.The proposed rule contains multiple provisions that would apply to all workplaces, with specific requirements for those that have “close-in” work activities (e.g., tattooing, massage and hair dressing) and health care activities that involve direct patient care. Among the provisions are physical distancing processes, the use of physical barriers and face coverings, and sanitation policies and procedures. Employers must design workplaces and job tasks so employees can maintain 6 feet of distance from others.For example, in office settings, face coverings would be required when workers aren’t at a desk or are seated in a conference room and when 6 feet of distance can’t be reliably maintained. For shared equipment and high-contact surfaces, employers would have to ensure necessary cleaning and disinfecting supplies are available and the items are sanitized before use by another worker and before each shift.Employers would be required to post Oregon OSHA’s “COVID-19 Hazards Poster” in the workplace, notify employees of physical distancing requirements and how they’ll be implemented, and provide opportunities for workers to offer feedback.For workplaces with 25 or more employees, at least one worker would have to be designated to assist the employer with identifying appropriate physical distancing, proper face covering use and sanitation measures, and then ensuring implementation of the procedures.“We look forward to more review and feedback as we seek to further bolster on-the-job protections for workers against this disease,” Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood said in an Aug. 17 press release announcing the publication of the draft document. “This rule proposal reflects the need to provide both clearer and more stable guidance in the workplace than has been possible during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.”The rule could take effect Sept. 14 at the latest and would remain in effect for 180 days.

    Oregon OSHA – which operates under federal OSHA’s State Plan program – announced June 26 it would pursue drafting the temporary standard, which was developed in consultation with the Oregon Health Authority, various stakeholders and technical advisors. The agency is continuing to pursue permanent rulemaking that would provide a structure for addressing potential future disease outbreaks.Virtual public forums are planned to discuss the draft document. To comment on the draft, email

  • FMCSA awards nearly $80 million in grants
    Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has awarded about $80 million in federal grants to states and educational institutions in an effort to enhance roadway safety.In an Aug. 19 press release, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao says the awards “represent the highest funding level” for the grants, which will be allocated as follows:
    High Priority grants: $45.1 million to strengthen states’ CMV safety efforts, as well as advance technological capabilities.
    Commercial Driver’s License Program Implementation grants: $32.7 million to enhance efforts by states to improve the national CDL program.
    Commercial Motor Vehicle Operator Safety Training grants: $2 million to 20 educational institutions to help train veterans for jobs as CMV operators.
    “This critical funding will support FMCSA’s state and local safety partners, and illustrates the Trump administration’s commitment to reducing crashes and improving safety on America’s roadways,” acting FMCSA administrator Jim Mullen said in the release. “These funds will go directly to where they are needed the most – our states, local communities and educational institutions.”
    Mullen will be stepping down as administrator at the end of the month, the agency recently announced.

  • Speeding up OSHA’s response to COVID-19 whistleblower complaints: DOL OIG makes ...
    OSHA_OIG.jpg?1389116937Washington — Facing a staffing shortage and an increased number of complaints related to the COVID-19 pandemic, OSHA must improve the efficiency of its Whistleblower Protection Program, an audit report from the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General concludes.The program enforces 23 statutes that prohibit employers from retaliating against workers who report employer violations of various workplace safety, consumer product, environmental, financial reform and securities laws.“When OSHA fails to respond in a timely manner, it could leave workers to suffer emotionally and financially, and may also lead to the erosion of key evidence and witnesses,” DOL OIG states in the Aug. 14 report.An audit conducted by OIG found whistleblower complaints increased 30% during the first four months of the pandemic compared with the same period last year. Meanwhile, the WPP’s number of full-time equivalent investigators dropped to 120 from 126 in 2019. As a result, some investigators have as many as 45 open cases – more than double the “optimal” maximum amount of 20, according to the report. OIG recommends OSHA fill these vacancies.The office also recommends the agency continue to assess a triage pilot intended to speed up the complaint screening process and consider extending the program to all regions. The program, set up before the pandemic in Region 2 (New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands), is designed to reassign older whistleblower complaints from regions with sizeable backlogs to regions with smaller backlogs.“Whistleblower program officials have not utilized a similar approach during the pandemic to more evenly distribute whistleblower complaints,” the report states. OIG recommends the agency develop a caseload management plan to be able do so.In general, whistleblower cases are assigned based on the whistleblower’s location or where the majority of witnesses appeared to be located. However, OIG points out, many investigations are conducted via telephone interviews and with electronic delivery of supporting documentation,

     making distributing caseloads easier.Sign up for Safety+Health's free monthly email newsletters and get the news that's important to you. SUBSCRIBE NOWActing OSHA administrator Loren Sweatt agreed with the recommendations in a response memo dated Aug. 10 and addressed to Assistant Inspector General for Audit Elliot Lewis. She wrote that the agency has processed more than half of the COVID-19-related complaints received to date, with an average screening time of 10 days – faster than the agency’s fiscal year 2020 Operating Plan’s performance measure of 13 days.Sweatt added that the “Whistleblower Investigations Manual” is close to its first published update since September 2011.“In the meantime, the agency continues to issue new guidance to investigative staff, strengthen our collaborative relationships with our partner agencies, and develop new customer service and outreach tools,” she wrote.