for the month of May, 2012
Recycling company fails to protect employees working with lead
An Edmonton-based recycling company has been fined for failing to protect employees working with lead.
Metal and Waste Recycling Ltd, of Albert Works, Kenninghall Rd, Edmonton had bought and was stripping some lead-sheathed copper cabling from British Telecom (BT) after the network began to be changed from copper to fibre optic cable.
An investigation carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that between October 2008 and July 2009, more than 90 workers – most of whom were Romanian – were significantly exposed to lead as a result of this process.
HSE inspectors visited the site in April 2009 after an employee complained about insufficient protection when working with lead. During the site visit, HSE found nothing had been done to reduce lead exposure, with inadequate ventilation, face masks or respiratory equipment available.
It also found that although gloves were provided by the company, workers wore their own clothes, potentially spreading lead to other people and their own homes when they left work. Metal and Waste Recycling Ltd had not carried out blood tests or other health checks which are legally required when working with lead.
When HSE’s appointed doctor carried out tests, 23 workers were found to have significantly high levels of lead in their blood. Of these, six people had symptoms of lead poisoning and were referred to St Thomas’ Hospital poisons unit and two were put on chelation therapy by consultant toxicologists.
HSE Inspector Chris Tilley said:
“Lead exposure is a recognised cause of occupational ill health and its dangers are well known and documented. Working with lead requires adequate measures to either prevent or control exposure and appropriate monitoring of employees’ blood lead levels.
“In this case there was an abysmal lack of care from the company. It failed to implement adequate control measures, carry out any health surveillance of their workers and provide adequate welfare facilities.
“The company fell far short of its legal duties and exposed its employees to an unacceptable level of risk which resulted in six people suffering lead poisoning and a further two workers needing hospital treatment.”
At Westminster Magistrates’ Court today, Metal and Waste Recycling Ltd pleaded guilty breaching the Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002 between 1 November 2008 and 1 October 2009. The company was fined £49,500 and ordered to pay £25,483 in costs.
More than 400 food outlets rated ‘sub-standard’ across North Wales
THE food hygiene rating scheme was launched last year by the Food Standards Agency. It rates the hygiene standards at every establishment which serves food on a scale from zero to five.
Any outlet rated one or zero is “sub-standard” and in need of major or urgent improvement.
As of Friday, April 27, there were around 300 places, from schools through to takeaways, which score a rating of one or zero -with17 sites registering a zero rating.
The scheme is run by local authorities in partnership with the FSA. Local food safety officers carry out an inspection, and award an FSA food hygiene rating. As well as cleanliness the rating also looks at the condition of buildings – layout, lighting and ventilation – and how a business manages and records what it does to make sure food’s safe.
Inspections are mandatory but businesses are under no legal obligation to display the ratings in store which is why the Welsh Government wants to change the law. However the ratings of all businesses who have been inspected are available on the FSA website at www.food.gov.uk/ratings.
FSA E-NEWS APRIL 2012
The Food Standards Agency April newsletter is now available.
Businessman Ian Woolfitt in crush tragedy
A POPULAR businessman, described as a “baron” of civil engineering, has died after being crushed by a trailer.
Father-of-two Ian Woolfitt, 65, died after he was trapped under a tipping trailer on a road near Driffield.
‘Larger than life character’: Ian Woolfitt.
Paramedics raced to help but were unable to save Mr Woolfitt and he was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident in Station Road, Lockington.
Mr Woolfitt was managing director of Wold Construction Limited in Beverley, a firm he launched 20 years ago.
Last night, tributes poured in for Mr Woolfitt, who lived with his wife Margaret in Lund, a village between Beverley and Driffield.
Mr Woolfitt’s friend, Tracey Craven, health and safety manager at Simpson Civil Engineering in Driffield, said his death has shocked the industry.
She said: “Ian was a baron of civil engineering. He was known by everyone.
“He was the life and soul of the party, a larger than life character.
“No one can believe he has gone. His death has left a big hole, not just in Lund, but across East Yorkshire.”
Mr Woolfitt was a keen racing follower and owned his own horse. He was a popular regular at The Wellington Inn in Lund.
Another close friend, Kath Etherington, who was also Mr Woolfitt’s secretary at Wold Construction, said he was a model employer.
She said: “Ian was easy-going, kind and cared about his workforce. You could not have wished for a better boss.
“Ian loved a drink and his horse racing. He was always off to meetings.
“He also loved a laugh and a joke and was always winding people up.
“Everyone is just in shock at what has happened. He was very well-liked and respected.”
Mr Woolfitt’s business partner and friend Brian Auchterlounie lost his battle with cancer just over a year ago.
Mrs Etherington said: “We’ve lost two directors in just 13 months. Everyone is extremely upset.”
Two years ago, Mr Woolfitt’s company was hired by East Riding Council to make £2 million of safety improvements to the A1079, which connects Hull and York, at Pocklington.
In a company statement, Simon Higgins, Wold Construction’s contracts manager, said: “We are saddened to confirm the death of Ian Woolfitt, the managing director of Wold Construction Company Ltd, following an unfortunate accident.
“Our thoughts are with his family at this time.
“Ian was well thought of and respected. He will be greatly missed by all at Wold Construction Company Ltd.”
Mr Higgins said the company was unable to give any further details about the accident due to an ongoing investigation.
Last night, Mrs Woolfitt was being comforted by the couple’s sons Jonathan and Paul at the family home.
A Humberside Police spokeswoman said they received a report of a man trapped under an Iveco tipping trailer shortly before 4pm on Tuesday.
She said: “Police, fire and ambulance service attended but, sadly, the 65-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene.
“The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was advised of the incident and attended. An investigation is now under way involving both the police and HSE.”
A HSE spokeswoman said they were aware of the accident and are helping with the police investigation.
Egg firm fined after worker’s fingers cut off
A Worcestershire egg company has been fined after a worker severed two fingers while cleaning a drain on a production line.
The 25 year-old employee lost part of his index and middle fingers on his right hand when it came into contact with a heavy duty blade at Bumble Hole Foods Ltd, Fockbury, Bromsgrove on 26 August 2010.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the risks of cleaning around the blade had not been adequately assessed or controlled and employees were able to reach dangerous moving parts while the blade was running.
Redditch Magistrates’ Court was told Bumble Hole Foods Ltd were aware of the risks following a similar incident in 2008. The court also heard how the training for this work was carried out by employees who were not qualified to train others.
Bumble Hole Foods Ltd, of Fockbury, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
The company was fined £13,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,303.
Speaking after today’s hearing, HSE inspector Christopher Gregory said:
“This incident was entirely foreseeable and easily preventable. The risks of cleaning around the drain had not been adequately assessed or controlled so unfortunately, a much larger price has been paid, not least by their employee.
“This case shows the importance of learning from mistakes and ensuring that formal advice from the HSE is not ignored. Employers have a duty to act on their findings. If Bumble Hole Foods had taken prompt action after the previous incident, this could so easily have been avoided.”
There’s food hygiene safety in numbers
The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme tells consumers about the hygiene standards in the
places where they eat out or shop for food. The scheme, an FSA/local authority partnership
initiative, is relatively new, but its roll-out across England, Wales and Northern Ireland has
gathered momentum over the past few months
Following launches in Cumbria, in the North West, Wycombe, in the South East, and many other places in between, 275 local authorities now have the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) in place. This represents about 75% of local authories in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Many more are preparing to launch and, by the time of the London 2012 Games, the Agency expects the figure to rise to about 94%. Others are due to follow a little later and, by the end of the year, we expect Northern Ireland to join Wales in having national coverage.
This is all great news for consumers! They can already check online to find out about the hygiene standards for almost 250,000 food outlets, and the numbers are set to increase week by week.
The scheme gives consumers greater choice and the power to vote with their feet. But it’s also good news for food businesses.
Good performers will be easier to spot.
Look out for the distinctive green and black stickers or check them out at www. food.gov.uk/
Construction firm fined after worker’s narrow escape
A construction worker defied death after falling four metres from the cage of a 20-tonnes cherry-picker into the path of a moving bus, which then pushed him another 15 metres along the Euston Road.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted national construction firm Galliford Try Construction Limited for serious safety failings which led to Camden worker Leszek Soltysiak suffering severe injuries. The employee was part of a two-man team brought in by Galliford Try to fix snagging issues at the iconic St Pancras Renaissance Hotel and Chambers, which had just undergone a £103 million restoration by the company. Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard the firm arranged for two workers from the logistics team to remove tape from the outside of an apartment window on the third floor of the residential block in the early hours of 4 March 2011. As scaffolding had been removed from the site, the men had to move a cherrypicker from a compound in Euston Road to another in Midland Road to enable them to carry out the job. Mr Soltysiak began to reverse the machine out of the exit onto Euston Road, raising his operator platform to clear the fencing. Deciding it was clear, he continued backing out unaware that a double-decker bus had just turned into the road. The second worker waved at the bus to try to get it to stop but it was dark and the bus driver saw nothing. The top of the bus hit the operator platform overhanging the road forcing the jib to slew across and hit a brick gate post. The collision catapulted the driver from the platform and he fell to the ground in front of the still moving bus. The bus driver braked, thinking he had hit a tree and stopped about 15 metres further along. Mr Soltysiak was found partially underneath the front nearside. He suffered serious head, arm, pelvis and leg injuries and was only able to return to work earlier this year. HSE’s investigation found the incident could have been avoided if Galliford Try had fulfilled their duty to properly plan and supervise the work. After the hearing (on 11 April) HSE Inspector Paul Hems said: “This worker narrowly escaped death after a series of events which almost seem unbelievable but in fact could have proved fatal. “A 14-metres long slow-moving machine, not suitable for use on a public highway, was moved against the flow of traffic on to a three-lane road. Both workers were without high visibility clothing and there were no visible warning lights on the cherry-picker despite it being early morning and still dark which made it, and the men, effectively invisible to the bus driver. The dangers involved using cherry-pickers are well known and yet the company failed to ensure safe movement of the vehicle between different compounds at the site. “The company also failed to provide adequate and relevant information and instruction to their employees.” Galliford Try Construction Limited, of Cowley Business Park, Uxbridge, Middlesex, was fined a total of £12,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £16,459.70 after pleading guilty to two serious breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Food Standards Agency show zero tolerance at Blackburn and Darwen food outlets
FOOD hygiene standards at 14 takeaways, shops and cafes in Blackburn and Darwen need ‘urgent improvements,’ according to the Food Standards Agency.
Food safety officers visited around 1,000 food selling outlets including work canteens, pubs and butty shops giving them a rating of zero to five.
The Courtyard Cafe at Blackburn College, The Live Lounge and three newsagents were among the worst.
Inspections of the zero-rated premises were carried out between March 2010 and January this year and will have been required urgently to carry out necessary improvements.
Council cuts one in three EHOs
Crawley BC have confirmed it is cutting its environmental health team by a third, but has denied allegations by a whistleblower that public health would be put at risk.
Six of the 17-strong team will go by 1 August, including five full-time and one part-time post. The council said the decision had been taken earlier in the year.
But contrary to an assertion made by environment and housing director Peter Browning in the local press, the majority of job loses are frontline staff.
A spokesperson told EHN only one manager level position was being deleted, compared to two-and-a-half senior EHO posts, one senior health and safety inspector and one technical support officer.
Reports in the local press citing an ‘anonymous whistleblower’ that the risk to the public would be increased as a result were denied by Mr Browning. He claimed: ‘The public will not notice any difference in frontline services.’
The council said it had undertaken ‘extensive staff consultations’ when planning the job cuts and changes to the department.
The spokesperson added: ‘The changes required by central government on our approach to health and safety plus other legislative changes around public drainage, etc, means that it was an appropriate time to review the service.
‘That review allowed us to refocus on the key public health and environmental services needed by Crawley. This will free up time to concentrate on core aspects of the work and build resilience and flexibility.’
CIEH head of policy David Kidney said: ‘Public protection should surely be a top priority and the CIEH is concerned to learn of these substantial cuts in environmental and public health posts and the concern for public safety they are engendering.
‘I do not believe that the government is expecting councils to reduce such vital frontline services as occupational safety, public health and workplace wellbeing. I would expect to see much stronger justification – in terms of improved public protection and enhanced frontline services – than Crawley BC has yet presented.’
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