for the month of October, 2013
HSE announces legislation changes
The reporting of workplace injuries has been simplified and greater flexibility has been introduced for managing the provision of first aid training.The reporting of workplace injuries has been simplified and greater flexibility has been introduced for managing the provision of first aid training.
The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 have been amended to remove the requirement for HSE to approve first aid training and qualifications.
The change is part of HSE's work to reduce the burden on businesses and put common sense back in to health and safety, while maintaining standards. The new approach applies to businesses of all sizes and from all sectors.
Information, including the regulations and guidance for employers is available on the HSE website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/firstaid/
Changes to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995 have been introduced that clarify and simplify the reporting requirements, while ensuring that the data collected gives an accurate and useful picture of workplace incidents.
The main changes are in the following areas:
- The classification of 'major injuries' to workers has been replaced with a shorter list of 'specified injuries'
- The existing schedule detailing 47 types of industrial disease replaced with eight categories of reportable work-related illness
- Fewer types of 'dangerous occurrence' require reporting
The changes affect all employers - including the self-employed. Information and guidance is available on the HSE website at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/
Both changes follow a review of health and safety legislation by Professor Ragnar Löfstedt in which he made a number of recommendations that the Government appointed HSE to implement.
Neither change alters the duties and responsibilities already placed on employers. For example, businesses still have a legal duty to make arrangements to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work.
The amendments to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995 do not affect how an incident at work is reported and the criteria that determine whether an incident should be investigated.
Supermarket supplier fined for botulism risk
One of the UK’s largest chicken suppliers has been fined over £100,000 after staff at one plant hid potentially unsafe chicken from EHOs.
Managers at the 2 Sisters Food Group’s chicken roasting plant in Haughley Park, Stowmarket, deliberately obstructed EHOs from Mid Suffolk District Council with offers of cups of tea for 28 minutes while the potentially unsafe chicken was moved on to lorries.
But EHOs Caroline Johnson and Wai Jarvis - who were checking the firm was complying with a remedial action notice requiring it to stop giving chicken products shelf lives beyond the Food Standard Agency’s recommended limit of 10 days – later found some of the products for sale in shops.
Mid Suffolk District Council said the firm then took over a month to hand over information the EHOs needed to establish the scale of the problem.
‘It then took the company over seven weeks to provide production records which eventually demonstrated the large quantities involved and putting a serious question over product traceability,’ it said.
2 Sisters Food Group – which supplies all the major supermarkets – admitted failing to comply with the notice, failing to have a suitable food safety management system in place and failing to provide records of production at Ipswich Crown Court last week.
The firm was fined a total of £112,500 and Mid Suffolk District Council was awarded costs of over £41,000.
Food Standards Agency guidance for vacuum and modified atmosphere packed chilled foods recommends a 10-day shelf life to prevent the development of botulism, a potentially fatal infection.
EHOs first visited the plant in 2010. They discovered that vac packed and modified atmosphere products were being given a shelf life longer than the FSA recommended limit. In 2011 the EHOs returned to the plant and found the practice was continuing. The firm was then served with a notice.
The council said the offences related to ‘a serious breakdown of management control’ and resulted in ‘a greater risk of botulism for consumers’.
It added that the ‘lack of management control’ by the firm over what happened at the site was ‘disturbing’.
John Grayling, manager of food and safety services at Mid Suffolk and Babergh District Councils said: ‘Someone in the organisation was putting profit before food safety and it seems likely they were doing so because they thought it was what the company wanted. The case illustrates very well why it is necessary to have strong regulators ensuring that compliant businesses are not put at an economic disadvantage by those that will flout the regulations made to protect people.’
Marilyn Curran, cabinet member for environmental health and housing, praised the environmental health service for pursuing this case.
‘In Mid Suffolk, we will always do what we can to support businesses and our Food and Safety team spend the majority of their time giving advice to food businesses to help them improve food safety. Where our advice is ignored and we feel that consumers are being put at risk however, we are always prepared to step in to protect the public,’ she said.
2 Sisters Food Group told EHN that it deeply regretted the disagreement but insisted there was no safety risk.
‘We deeply regret that what started as a genuine disagreement about the proper shelf life for certain products ended in a prosecution due to miscommunication within our organisation which resulted in a number of procedural oversights.
‘Although there was no safety risk, we accept that we should have amended our documentation (in light of the local authority’s inspection) and updated them to reflect the systems that were in place at the site at the time.
‘We also accept that more should have been done after the service of a remedial action notice to monitor what was in fact taking place on site to ensure that the agreement that was thought to have been reached was being put in place with sufficient rigour.
‘We are committed to maintaining the highest of standards. Our Haughley Park site currently holds a BRC global standard for food “A” grade certificate - the highest grade available. We are also expanding our technical training programme by partnering with research organisation Campden BRI, and are creating a training and development hub at our corporate headquarters to ensure that our people have access to the best possible training and support.’
Top ten summer safety myths exposed
Costco 'slow' to act on infestation
Warehouse retailer Costco has been prosecuted for failing to take steps to control a serious and long-term mouse infestation that posed an imminent risk to shopper’s health.
Bristol City Council EHOs visited last year and found large quantities of mouse droppings throughout the Costco’s Avonmouth warehouse, including the food aisles, the in-store bakery and the delicatessen cold store.
The officers also found evidence of rodent damage to food and food packaging, including ready-to-eat foods such as savory snack mixes, chocolate Brazil nuts and pitta chips.
Mice were getting into store through unsealed expansion gaps in the concrete floor of the store.
One Costco customer told the council that she had complained after buying a wrapped chocolate brioche, which had been nibbled by mice. Another customer said she had seen a dead mouse between packets of rolls and had informed the duty manager.
Costco agreed to a voluntary closure of the affected areas to carry out remedial work. The officers then allowed the affected areas to be reopened.
But when they revisited the following month they found further mouse droppings and food product damage at the Costco Store. Officers concluded that Costco’s checking procedures were still inadequate.
Costco admitted five food safety offences at Bristol Crown Court last week. The company was ordered to pay a total of £16,000 fines, £45,000 costs and £15 victim surcharge.
EHO Javed Latif, who led the investigation, said Costco were slow to protect customers.
‘Costco management were aware of the existence and extent of the mouse infestation but were slow to fully control the infestation and put the necessary steps in place to adequately protect their customers against the risk of harm’, he said.
Mr Latif said he considered a very serious case because of the delays, risk to public health from contaminated ready to eat foods and failure to remove pest damaged food from the store.
EHO Wanda Hooper said parts of the store had constituted an imminent risk to public health.
‘We considered the affected parts of the store constituted an imminent risk to public health due to the contamination of food and food packaging from mouse activity. We were specifically concerned about the contamination of ready-to-eat food which was on sale within the store and had, therefore, been placed on the market,’ she said.
Gus Hoyt, assistant mayor with a responsibility for the environment, said Costco failed to prevent a serious infestation.
‘This is a disturbing case where Costco failed to take sufficient steps to prevent a serious infestation by mice and, as a result, food on display for sale to the public was unsafe. The work of city council EHOs has been first class in discovering the extent of the infestation and taking prompt action to protect the public. I am pleased that the sentence shows that the Crown Court has taken the lack of care by Costco as seriously as we do,’ said Mr Hoyt.
Costco told EHN that it takes food safety and pest control very seriously.
‘It is regretted that on this occasion the company fell short of its usually high standards. There was no harm to our members or others, but the circumstances giving rise to the offences were unacceptable. We have taken action to further strengthen our pest control arrangements for the Bristol warehouse, to ensure that our members have access to the warehouse environment that they are entitled to.
‘The offences which were the basis of this prosecution date from February of 2012. Since that time the Bristol branch has maintained an impeccable record of sanitation and currently holds a five star food hygiene and safety rating in its food court.’
Man jailed for running ‘disgusting’ restaurant
The owner of a Coventry food business has been sent to prison for 27 weeks after EHOs found conditions at the premises were so bad it posed serious public health risk.
Akbar Jan, director of Bab E Khybar Original Restaurant and Takeaway in Foleshill Road, Coventry, ran the rodent-infested premises despite having been banned from running a food business after being prosecuted in Birmingham in 2010.
EHOs from Coventry City Council first visited the premises on 14 May 2012 and discovered an ‘extensive mouse infestation’. The restaurant was voluntarily closed due to an imminent public health risk and opened again four days later.
But follow up visits in June and July 2012 revealed conditions had again deteriorated and mouse droppings were found throughout the premises.
EHOs were then alerted to the fact Mr Jan had been prohibited from running a food business. A prosecution was brought against him and his business partner, Israr Raja for multiple breaches of food safety regulations and the restaurant was permanently closed.
Mr Raja was sentenced at Leamington Crown Court on 12 December last year. He received a six-month custodial sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to carry out 180 hours unpaid work.
A warrant for Mr Jan’s arrest was issued earlier this year when he failed to attend a court hearing. Mr Jan eventually pleaded guilty at a magistrates court and sentencing was carried out at Coventry Crown Court on 27 September.
In a highly critical summing up of the case, judge Richard Griffith-Jones said: ‘Many thousands of people eat out each week and the public place a large amount of trust in people providing food, and they expect that it will not make them ill.
‘Food poisoning is a distressing experience and unpleasant to endure. If you keep the premises in a disgraceful state the way you have kept your Coventry business, it generates a severe risk that people may become ill. The risk to vulnerable people was high, and could have caused dangerous illness.
‘I am unable to avoid the conclusion that the offences are so serious that only an immediate custodial sentence is necessary.
New figures show fall in fatal injuries to workers
- 39 fatal injuries to construction workers were recorded – a rate of 1.9 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to an average of 53 deaths in the past five years and a decrease from the 48 deaths recorded in 2011/12.
- 29 fatal injuries to agricultural workers were recorded – a rate of 8.8 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to an average of 36 deaths in the past five years and a decrease from the 35 deaths recorded in 2011/12.
- 10 fatal injuries to waste and recycling workers were recorded – a rate of 8.2 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to an average of 6 deaths in the past five years and an increase from the 5 deaths recorded in 2011/12.
Across Great Britain
- 118 fatal injuries in England were recorded - a rate of 0.5 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to an average of 144 deaths in the past five years and a decrease from the 131 deaths recorded in 2011/12
- 22 fatal injuries in Scotland were recorded - a rate of 0.9 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to an average of 22 deaths in the past five years and an increase from the 19 deaths recorded in 2011/12.
- 8 fatal injuries in Wales were recorded - a rate of 0.6 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to an average of 12 deaths in the past five years and a decrease from the 19 deaths recorded in 2011/12.
Kent print company fined for worker hand injury
A worker had the skin torn from his hand on a printing press at a Dartford print company where vital safety guards had been removed, a court has heard.
New phase of slips, trips & falls campaign launched
Slips, trip and fall incidents in the workplace cost 40 workers their lives last year and cost society an estimated £800 million each year, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) warned today as it launched a hard-hitting campaign.
HSE figures show that slips and trips are the most common cause of major workplace injury in Britain. More workplace deaths are triggered by falls from height than any other cause, according to official statistics.
In addition to 40 fatalities, there were over 15,000 major injuries to workers, as well as over 30,000 workers having to take over three days off work.
As well as the tragic human cost, preventable slips, trips and falls are having a serious financial impact on the UK. HSE estimates that the combined financial costs incurred by society as a whole is around £800million a year, at a time when both businesses and individuals are struggling financially during the current recession.
In response, HSE is launching a new phase of its Shattered Lives campaign, aimed at reducing slips, trips and falls in the workplace. The hard hitting campaign involves raising awareness of the impact of slips, trips and falls in the workplace and direct people to the new Shattered Lives website www.hse.gov.uk/shatteredlives for practical advice and guidance.
The campaign is targeted at those sectors were there are a high number of slips, trips and falls incidents each year, specifically, health and social care, education, food manufacturing, food retail, catering and hospitality, building and plant maintenance, and construction.
On the new campaign website, people will be able to find out information on how they can easily, and cost effectively, reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls in the workplace, and see what other organisations, such as Sainsbury's and First Line Digital, have done. Included on the site is an online tool (STEP) and a work at height access equipment toolkit (WAIT). Advice ranges from how to deal with spills and other slip risks, to the importance of using ladders correctly to reduce the risk of falling from height.
Company fined after toppling trolley severs worker's fingers
FSA statement on Salmonella Gold-coast incident
The Food Standards Agency, with Public Health England and local authorities, is investigating an outbreak of a particular strain of salmonella, called Salmonella Gold-coast, which is known to have caused 18 cases of illness.
The investigation has identified potential links between the outbreak and the consumption of whelks from independent shops, market stalls and mobile seafood vans, largely in the East Anglia area. As part of this investigation, Lynn Shellfish Ltd of King’s Lynn (formerly known as Heiploeg or Heiploeg and Lynn Shrimpers) has issued a recall of all batches of frozen and chilled whelks.
Anyone who has recently purchased and consumed whelks and is displaying the symptoms of food poisoning, such as diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach cramps and fever should contact their GP. None of the affected product remains on sale. However, if you have whelks in your fridge or freezer from independent shops, market stalls and mobile seafood vans in the East Anglia area, you should not eat them but instead throw them away.
How safe is food served by pop-up street outlets?
Street food is increasingly popular across the UK with a boom in outlets and festivals dedicated to the cuisine.
Transport firm owner sentenced following mechanic death
The owner of a Leicestershire transport company has been sentenced for safety failings after a mechanic was killed during a jacking operation.
Mark Wintersgill, 25, of Broughton Astley, Leicester, was attempting to jack up the axle of a double decker HGV trailer at PPR Transport Services in Lutterworth on 25 June 2012 when the jack separated from the axle and struck him. He died at the scene of catastrophic head injuries.
Business owner Paul Anthony Roberts, also of Lutterworth, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found the operation was poorly planned and managed.
Leicester Crown Court heard today (15 October) that Mr Wintersgill was attempting to jack the trailer on a set of concrete ramps, which meant the trailer's landing legs were below the level of the rear axles. This may have encouraged the unit to rock forward when the jacking began.
The mechanic was using an air jack powered by a compressor and is thought to have put two wooden blocks on top of the jack to achieve a greater lifting height. Unfortunately, these may have further destabilised the equipment and separated, causing the jack to jump under the pressure of the load.
The court was told that Mr Wintersgill should not have been under a vehicle being lifted until it was fully supported by appropriate chassis or axle stands.
Mr Roberts was ultimately responsible for ensuring that work at the site was properly assessed and controlled, with suitable safety measures, training and equipment in place and available.
Paul Anthony Roberts, 51, of Lilac Drive, Lutterworth, was fined £12,000 with costs of £43,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety of Work etc Act 1974 for failing to protect his employees.
After the hearing HSE inspector David Lefever said:
"This was a tragic incident that could have been prevented had a few basic precautions been taken.
"Mr Roberts should have ensured that this regular work activity was carried out in a safe location on firm, level ground. He should also have ensured his employees were supplied with the correct equipment and that they were trained in how to use that equipment safely.
"He should have monitored how employees were carrying out this task and stopped the routine use of wooden blocks, which was a highly dangerous practice. He should also have ensured his employees followed a safe system of work.
"He failed to do any of that and as a result a young man paid with his life."
Mr Wintersgill's mother, Jeanine Erasmus said:
"For 25 years I had the privilege and honour of being Mark's mother before he was so senselessly and cruelly taken from me. I still have one amazing son, Craig, whom I love with all my heart, but there is emptiness inside me due to Mark's death that will haunt me every day for the rest of my life.
"Mark was one in a million. He was kind, loving, happy, sincere, loyal, genuine, caring, hardworking and would help anyone out he could. He had this presence when he walked into a room, the room would light up. He had a cheeky smile and such a deep chuckle, and a twinkle in his blue eyes.
"Nobody should have to bury their 25-year-old son. No-one should feel needless pain and suffering. Mark was an extraordinary son and human being who did not deserve this fate."
More than 1,100 construction sites fail safety checks
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