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FARMING COMPANY FINED £320,000

A company involved in fruit and vegetable production has been fined £320,000 after a man “who always put family first” was killed at a site in Burscough.

Francis Schlachter, known as Frank, suffered severe head injuries when he fell from a skip at a farm operated by M.A.Forshaw Ltd on 3 January 2020. The 64-year-old from Southport was described as ‘a rock’ by his wife of 35 years Linda, who said how much he would be missed by his friends and family. “I have lost my soul mate,” Linda said. “No man should go to work and not return home.”

Frank had been tipping food waste into a skip from a container attached to a forklift truck. (FLT) The container could not be securely attached to the FLT, which was known to detach from the vehicle during the procedure. As Frank attempted to manually assist in the operation, he was standing on top of the skip when the container slipped from the FLT causing him to fall to the ground, resulting in fatal head injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that M.A.Forshaw Ltd had not fully assessed the risks involved in this daily task. Had they done so, the dangers would have been identified. They also failed to maintain equipment in safe working order and to properly instruct staff in safe working practices.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974. They were fined £320,000 and were ordered to pay £4,574 costs at a hearing at Wirral Magistrates’ Court on 1 February 2024.

“It was caused by the failure of the company to implement safe systems of work, properly maintain work equipment, and sufficiently assess the risks involved in routine work processes. Stated the HSE.

Companies that use work equipment must manage the risks associated with its use. Detailed guidance on the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 is available. Guidance for those using lifting equipment for work is also available.

WE ARE COLLECTING GIFTS AGAIN

As more women enter the construction and safety industries, ill fitting PPE is one of the first issues they encounter, and this has been the case for many years. Although PPE specifically designed for women is produced, availability of such products remains low. The reality is PPE was designed for men and when the issue is raised by women in construction, they are left having to explain that it is not safe for them to wear ill fitting ‘protective’ clothing, with women forced to cut and modify their PPE.

  • Tripping on the end ends of trousers which are too long
  • The risk of baggy oversized clothes getting caught in heavy machinery
  • Gloves designed for men’s hands, can dilute the protection offered to women, as they are more likely to drop materials due to poor grip, or they simply fall off.
  • Safety boots not available in women’s sizes offer little support and contribute towards, twisted ankles, blisters, trips, and access issues.

The main reason for the lack of women’s PPE is demand, but with more women coming into construction, transport and manufacturing, the balance is starting to tip so the demand is increasing. Issues regarding PPE for some women are not related to how it fits, but to how it accommodates religious and cultural norms and with very few options available to them, they are reluctant to enter certain industries, or progressing in their existing roles. Aside from safety and inclusivity benefits, how people look and feeling comfortable in what they are wearing at work plays a big part in their confidence and ability to carry out a task efficiently. Industry and workwear manufacturers should think about working together to boost the availability and range of women’s PPE, making women feel comfortable, safe, and included in the workplace and could be key to addressing the construction industry’s gender imbalance.

WHY TOOLBOX TALKS?

Toolbox talks are a great management tool that can be used to brief employees of any specific hazards relating to their working processes and the controls or safe working practices in place that help them perform their duties safely. It also brings any new safety legislation or safe working practices to their attention. The toolbox talk can be delivered using a range of styles, with each depending on the audience and topic. It’s important to keep the talks brief, to hold the attention of the audience, but it is more effective if the audience can get involved and can give feedback in the form of a quick question and answer period towards the end of the talk.

My style

My style is more of a straightforward approach, where I include facts and try to debunk myths about the subject using short stories as examples. This helps to highlight the hazards and why the controls are in place to do the job safely. Occasionally this can be highlighted using statistics relating to the subject. If appropriate, I will highlight the human factor and how by not following good practices and procedures, families and work colleagues can be impacted emotionally, psychologically, and financially. For me personally, this is the main reason that toolbox talks are important, in that they can highlight how our actions affect others and that by following good practices and looking after our colleagues, we all get to go home at the end of the day.

Written by Darryl Jones, Health and Safety Consultant

TRAINING DATES

A BLANTENT DISREGARD

A manufacturing company has been fined £15,000 after exposing its own workers to wood dust and failing to comply with two improvement notices.

Wood dust can cause serious and often irreversible health problems, including sino-nasal cancer, asthma and dermatitis. Employers have a legal responsibility to prevent or adequately control exposure in the workplace.

After concerns were raised to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), inspectors from the workplace regulator went to Billy Davidson NV Stables Limited’s premises in Wingate, Durham on 17 June 2022. As a result, notices were served on the firm requiring it to undertake an examination of the local exhaust ventilation (LEV) system fitted to a chop saw and for failing to control exposure to wood dust from the use of a circular table saw.

Proper dust extraction can include having the right machinery, and vacuuming dust instead of sweeping is often required.

Despite the action taken by HSE, when inspectors returned to the site on 12 January 2023, the circular saw was still being used, despite the company saying it had been taken out of use. Likewise, the chop saw and LEV was also still being used, and the company had not provided HSE with confirmation it had been examined and was adequately controlling wood dust exposure.

The subsequent HSE investigation found the company had shown a disregard for health and safety due to their failure to comply with the improvement notices.

Billy Davidson NV Stables Limited was found guilty of contravening two counts of Section 33(1)(g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulations 9(2) and 7(1) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002. The company was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £4,500 in costs at Peterlee Magistrates Court on 24 January 2024.

HSE inspector Clare Maltby said: “This company showed a blatant disregard to the safety of its own workers. “Companies are responsible for controlling the exposure to wood dust, a substance which is hazardous to health and can cause long term health effects such as occupational asthma.

“Compliance could have been achieved by simply getting a LEV fitted to the circular table saw and getting a competent person to undertake a thorough examination and test of the LEV on the chop saw.

ARE DRONES A SAFETY SOLUTION?

Drones are incredibly versatile remote-controlled robots that can be used for surveillance in the workplace. In fact, they’re becoming increasingly popular in higher-risk tasks as a way to avoid injuries.

By using drones, you can analyse an area before starting to work there. You’ll be able to take a look at your work area ahead of time and take safety precautions, if any are needed, before you get started on your work. A drone can quickly fly over, detect threats and provide aerial images and real-time footage. This allows security staff to assess the level of danger and identify the appropriate response. Adding drones to your workplace provides you with valuable tools for improving safety and preventing accidents on the job.

Drones, A Safer Solution

With so many fatalities, leaders and decision-makers must do everything they can to keep their employees out of harm’s way. Safety discussions and personal protective equipment help mitigate situations like falls from a height. However, they cannot prevent them. The only way to ensure some of these fatalities will not occur is to completely remove people from dangerous environments. Drones are ideally suited to complete many of the tasks that place humans at dangerous heights. Visual inspections of wind turbines, for example, put people hundreds of feet in the air. Inspection personnel are suspended with ropes as they methodically search for defects in the rotor, nacelle, tower, foundation, and electrical system of each wind turbine.

During the entire process, people are in danger of falling. Drones, on the other hand, can complete much of the inspection process without ever placing people in danger. Additionally, the versatility of payload options can allow for much more detailed data collection during the process.

Heights are not the only situations where drones can keep people out of harm’s way. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) can operate in smoke, high temperatures, toxic gas, confined spaces, dust, and radiation. Another example of drones keeping people safe can be found in how we combat fires. Firefighters are often placed in burning buildings where flames, toxic smoke, and falling debris can quickly cause injury or death. Fire departments around the world are finding UAVs as a solution to keeping their teams safe.

Drones can assess the hot spots of a building and provide firefighters with situational awareness before they even approach a burning structure. They can then monitor the situation and keep track of individual firefighter locations, avoiding potential disaster if a team member is in danger. Drones provide an extra layer of safety between firefighters and flames.

WHAT’S ON

Eggs-travaganza Easter hunt

Winchester Science Centre

16 Mar 2024 – 15 Apr 2024

Don’t expect to be on the hunt for brightly coloured eggs, instead enjoy finding the rabbits and hares around the centre.

www.winchestersciencecentre.org/whats-on/easter-hunt

Kids Archery Tournament

New Forest Activities, Beaulieu

Easter School Holidays

Target shooting with a twist! Learn how to shoot a real bow and arrow as you release your inner archer.

www.newforestactivities.co.uk/seasonal/easter-archery

The Big Eat – Food Festival

Royal Victoria Country Park

25 May 2024 – 27 May 2024

A 3 day food festival, entry to the event is free. Showcasing the best food and drink in Hampshire as well as lots of entertainment & live music.

www.hampshire.co.uk/whats-on

Southampton Sporterium

Guildhall Square, Southampton

22 Apr 2024

Sporterium is an exciting event to get people on their bikes! Starting in Guildhall Square, the two will be on open roads with friendly marshals and plenty of feed stations.

These events are not recommendations, they are for information only. MSA cannot be held responsible for lack of enjoyment, financial loss or issues arising from these activities. Activities are undertaken at the readers choice and risk.

BEDDING MANUFACTURER FINED

 bedding manufacturer has been fined more than £250,000 after one of its employees were seriously injured.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Sartex Quilts and Textiles Limited following the incident, which saw the worker undergo amputations.

The incident took place on 29 March 2020 and involved a 32-year-old employee. On his first day working on the line, he was instructed to clean the measuring wheel on a cutting machine. He climbed onto the conveyer belt; however the cutting machine had not been properly isolated from all sources of power and the machine’s clamp came down, trapping the employee’s left hand and causing the circular saw to move. The saw was brought to a stop by another employee who pressed the emergency stop button. Unfortunately, this was not in time and resulted in the worker having three fingers amputated from his left hand.

The worker said in his victim personal statement: “Prior to this incident, I was a healthy, happy and active person. At the time I had one very young son, now I have two children. I try not to expose my left hand too much to my children when I am playing with them or when they are in my company. When I am out in public, I try to keep my injured hand out of the public view.”

On 22 October 2021, a second Sartex Quilts and Textiles employee was involved in an incident while operating a quilting machine. The 51-year-old, from Rochdale, had noticed a fallen casing and attempted to place it onto the back of the machine while it was being operated.

However, his gloves became tangled in the machine, causing his right hand to be dragged in. This caused lacerations and crush injuries to his right hand and resulted in the tips of two of his fingers to be amputated.

HSE Inspectors Leanne Ratcliffe and Elena Pickford investigated the incidents in 2020 and 2021 respectively and found Sartex Quilts and Textiles Limited did not guard the machinery and did not implement suitable and sufficient procedures to isolate machinery from power.

Sartex Quilts and Textiles Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined £251,250 and ordered to pay £6,862.63 in costs at Manchester & Salford Magistrates’ Court on 14 February 2024. HSE Inspector Elena Pickford said “Employers should make sure they properly assess and ensure that access to dangerous parts of machinery are prevented. Had these machines been adequately guarded and a safe isolating procedure been in place, these incidents could have easily been prevented.”