News
for the month of October, 2013

HSE announces legislation changes

4th of October 2013

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.

 

First aid

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/

RIDDOR

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.

Source

Supermarket supplier fined for botulism risk

4th of October 2013

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.’

Source

Top ten summer safety myths exposed

4th of October 2013

HSE's Myth Busters Challenge Panel was set up in 2012 to provide quick advice to people subject to ridiculous or disproportionate health and safety decisions by insurance companies, local authorities, employers and overzealous jobsworths.

The Panel has received over 200 cases since being launched in April last year with nearly all rulings finding a decision was made without having any basis in health and safety law.

Minister for Employment Mark Hoban said: "It's time businesses and others stopped hiding behind health and safety when the simple truth is that they are either jobsworths or giving poor customer service. Their attitude gives health and safety a bad name and it undermines good health and safety which keeps people safe and enables them to enjoy the summer."

HSE Chair, Judith Hackitt added: "The stories just keep on coming in - you just could not make them up. I am proud of what our Myth Busters Panel has achieved in exposing the real reasons behind all of these so-called "health and safety" stories. If we understand what is really driving this blatant misuse of health and safety then we can all tackle the root causes - jobsworths be warned!"

Here are this summer's top myths;

  1. Jenna Barton was enjoying a break in Suffolk when she saw a young family stopped in their tracks by a sign in a chip shop window that struck her as particularly fishy.

    A notice declaring "under three year olds are not allowed on the premises or in the restaurant" was hanging near the front door at the chippy in Aldeburgh.

    Jenna, 33, a facilities supervisor, from Colchester knew there would be no health and safety regulations applying to children entering restaurants or takeaways, but alerted the Myth Busters to confirm it was a nonsense excuse.

    Of course, the Panel ruled this was yet another case of health and safety being used as an excuse and a complete over-reaction to an easily controlled risk. The restaurant should simply ask parents to control their children while in the premises if it doesn't want little ones running around, not cite non-existent health and safety rules.

    Jenna said: "At the time it seemed like overkill and I know enough about the law to realise they were using the old health and safety line as an excuse, thinking no-one will challenge it."

  2. A children's soft play centre in Oxfordshire has signs up stating "customers must not consume their own food or drink on the premises due to health and safety reasons".

    Unsurprisingly though, customers ARE allowed to consume hot drinks and cooked meals on the premises as long as they are bought from the play centre's own cafe.

    One disgruntled mum informed the Panel who were happy to clarify that of course no health and safety laws exist that would stand in the way of customers consuming their own food in circumstances as described. The panel all believed this was a clear case of commercial motives being conveniently hidden behind the catch-all health and safety excuse.

  3. Patrons of a Village Hall in Burford, Oxfordshire will probably be glad they don't have to get their hands clean by doing the washing up as the Committee reckons putting your hands in soapy suds is a health and safety issue.

    It has told people using the hall for private parties, christening etc they must use a dishwasher as a requirement of health and safety.

    What nonsense, there is no health and safety legal requirement that would stipulate use of a dishwasher, so whatever the real reason, the Panel says the washed-up Committee should stop misleading folk and come up with a better excuse to get out of doing the dishes!

  4. A leading DIY store was hardly doing itself any favours when it refused to help a customer do-it-himself and cut a piece of timber in store.

    The customer popped into his local branch of a high street DIY store to pick up some timber beading for his home improvements. However, when the wood was too long to fit in his car he asked staff to cut it down to size. He was stunned when the assistant said he could not help as it was against health and safety rules. The bemused customer then asked for a saw to do it himself and was again rebuffed as the store said it would liable if he hurt himself.

    He approached Myth Busters who ruled that the company should be fully aware of the risks and how to safely use the tools and equipment they sell. The Panel put this case down to poor customer service and urged the store to practice what it preaches.

  5. A local gym raised a few heckles (and chuckles) when a notice stating that for "health and safety reasons, members are requested to only use the hair dryers for hair on the head" appeared in the changing rooms.

    One fitness enthusiast was left scratching his own barnet at the bristly directive so alerted the Myth Busters. They of course ruled there is no occupational health and safety legislation regarding the use of hairdryers to dry hair on body-parts other than the head. The Panel stated; "This is clearly an easy excuse to deter people from using hair dryers inappropriately in a public place and the health club should give the real reason for their decision rather than hiding behind the health and safety catch all.

  6. One might think that it would be in the best interests of hotels, restaurants and bars to provide the means for customers to leave the premises in the same way they found them. Not so one hotel...which refuses to provide toilet brushes in its bathrooms for patrons on the grounds of, you guessed it, health and safety.

    Despite there being absolutely no law preventing the use of bog brushes in loos around Britain, the hotel has taken it upon itself to refuse to supply the bristly cleaners to customers on the well-worn excuse of 'elf and safety grounds. Now experts at the Health and Safety Executive's Myth Busters Challenge Panel have flushed the nonsense excuse down the proverbial pan.

    Bemused customer Malcolm Forbes, 64, from Hertfordshire contacted Myth Busters after staying at a plush hotel in Newport, South Wales in June. When the company director and father of two tried to flush out the real reason for the ban, he was told it was for health and safety reasons.

    The Myth Busters ruled that no legal requirements exist that prohibit the provision of toilet brushes in hotels or other public conveniences. Lots of shared toilet facilities in offices, bars, supermarkets etc do provide them with any hygiene risks easily managed.

    Whatever the real reason for the brush ban, HSE thinks the hotel operator should come clean and stop pulling the public's chain. If true grounds are for commercial reasons or reducing cost then be clear and flush these tired excuses away.

    Malcolm said: "I couldn't believe it when they cited health and safety. What about the effect on staff having to face dirty pans every morning? The hotel should not embarrass customers in this way. They have not thought this policy through and have just used health and safety as a cover".

    "I can't imagine what the real reason is but I do know I would not want any of my family working as a housekeeper at a hotel that actively discourages residents from cleaning the pan after themselves."

  7. A table tennis table used by factory workers in break times was removed after a jobsworth claimed it was a health and safety risk. The panel smashed that nonsense out of the court by declaring there are no health and safety rules that prevent employees playing table tennis in their leisure time. A suitable location is all that is needed.

  8. One diner who went to a department store in London for breakfast thought staff were yolking when he was told he couldn't have a fried egg for health and safety reasons.

    Stunned at this response he probed further and was told someone in another store left a frying pan on the heat causing a fire, so a decision was made to stop supplying fried eggs in all store restaurants.

    The Myth Busters said this was a classic case of an over the top and misguided response to a problem. Banning the sale of fried eggs will not stop other pans being overheated if staff do not take appropriate care. Fire is a risk when cooking but one that can be easily managed. The store later admitted this was not a health and safety decision at all but a matter of company policy.

  9. One overzealous racecourse steward confiscated a sun parasol from a racegoer because he said it posed a health and safety risk. Despite the searing heat this summer, the steward told the lady in question that someone could use it as a weapon. Bizarrely this silly rule ignores the fact that when it is raining, umbrellas are allowed.

    The Panel said there was clearly no health and safety issue here - many of us carry umbrellas with points when we travel on crowded public transport every day without incident. The racecourse has a clear policy that states that they reserve the right to refuse articles being brought into the event. On this occasion, someone judged that a parasol could be used as a weapon - a bizarre decision and certainly not health and safety.

  10. A Chinese restaurant in East Sussex refused to provide a customer with a finger bowl giving health and safety as the reason. The bemused diner complained to the Myth Busters who were clear that this nonsense excuse was blatantly used to hide the poor customer service. There is no health and safety regulation that could possibly be interpreted as a reason for banning finger bowls.

Source

Costco 'slow' to act on infestation

4th of October 2013

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.’

Source

Man jailed for running ‘disgusting’ restaurant

4th of October 2013

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.

Source

New figures show fall in fatal injuries to workers

4th of October 2013

 

Provisional data released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reveals that 148 workers were fatally injured between April 2012 and March 2013, compared with 172 in the previous year.

The overall rate of fatal injury has dropped to 0.5 per 100,000 workers, below the five-year average of 0.6.

Britain has had one of the lowest rates of fatal injuries to workers in leading industrial nations in Europe consistently for the last eight years.

Judith Hackitt, the HSE Chair, said: "These figures are being published in the same week as the 25th anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster, and are a reminder to us all of why health and safety is so important. Although the number of people killed at work has dropped significantly, last year 148 people failed to return home to their loved ones.

"The fact that Britain continues to have one of the lowest levels of workplace fatalities in Europe will be of little consolation to those who lose family members, friends and work colleagues.

"HSE is striving to make health and safety simpler and clearer for people to understand so that more people do what is required to manage the real risks that cause death and serious injury.

"We all have a part to play to ensure people come home safe at the end of the working day and good leadership, employee engagement and effective risk-management are key to achieving this."

The new figures also show the rate of fatal injuries in several key industrial sectors:

  • 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.

Source

Kent print company fined for worker hand injury

7th of October 2013

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.

 
The printer, then aged 30, who does not want to be named, also fractured a finger in the incident at Howard Hunt (City) Limited on 24 April 2009.

The firm, part of the Howard Hunt Group, which produces leaflets, magazine inserts, and direct mailing products, was prosecuted yesterday (26 September) by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation identified safety failings.

Dartford Magistrates' Court heard the injured worker was using a printer's knife when filling an ink reservoir that fed rollers transporting ink to printing plates.

Guards should have been in place to prevent access to the dangerous parts of the roller system while the press was running, but these had been removed four days earlier for cleaning and had not been replaced.

The knife stuck as he was filling the ink reservoir and his right hand was pulled between two rotating rollers and 'de-gloved', with the skin ripped away from the back of his hand. He managed to stop the machine using an emergency stop button before pulling himself free and alerting colleagues.

He was hospitalised for five days and later required a skin graft. He then had to wear a special pressure glove for more than a year, which interfered with his normal life and caused additional irritation.

He has now been left with permanent scarring.

HSE established that in addition to the injured worker, seven other people had also operated the machine with the protective safety guards removed. All were therefore placed at unnecessary risk.

The court was told that a proper risk assessment would have identified that cleaning should only have taken place when the press was turned off, and that routine checks should have established that all necessary guards were in place prior to it being switched on.

Magistrates also heard that training provision was inadequate, and that the injured worker had received no training or instruction on the safety features of the press.

Howard Hunt (City) Limited, registered to Crown House, Loughton, Essex, was fined a total of £11,000 and ordered to pay £4,399 in costs after pleading guilty to two separate breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and a single breach of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Gordon Chase said: "The painful injury the worker sustained could have been avoided had the guards been in place when the press was running. A proper risk assessment would have identified the requirement of a safe system of work, and the necessity of proper training on how to safely use the machine.

"Incidents of this kind occur all too often in the printing industry, and the onus is on companies like Howard Hunt to take adequate steps to control risks and protect their workforce."

New phase of slips, trips & falls campaign launched

7th of October 2013

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.

 

Source

Company fined after toppling trolley severs worker's fingers

12th of October 2013

The 35-year-old, from Middlesex, who does not want to be named, had the little and ring fingers on his right hand severed to below the knuckle in the incident at Noon Products Ltd, on Dean Way, Southall, on 26 July 2012.

The Surrey-based company was prosecuted yesterday (25 September) by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found the rack posed a clear danger.

Westminster Magistrates' Court heard the worker was using a tall rack with wheels to move trays of products. It featured a custom-made sheet metal top cover that had been unsuccessfully trialled but needlessly left in situ.

The rack had been poorly loaded by a colleague and as he pushed it, it overbalanced and toppled over, taking him with it. The sharp edge of the top cover landed directly on his right hand and cut clean through his fingers and knuckles.

He was hospitalised for ten days as surgeons successfully reattached his fingers. However, he is still unable to return to work and has been left with limited mobility that makes everyday tasks difficult or impossible.

HSE found the rack was inherently unsafe because it was top heavy thanks to the custom cover, which had been made in-house by Noon Products. It should have been removed as soon as an earlier trial had established it required modification, especially as a standard cover was available from the rack manufacturer that would have provided a safer suitable alternative.

Magistrates were told the incident could also have been prevented had the company better communicated and monitored the risks arising from overloading the rack, which are well known in the industry.

Noon Products Ltd, of Thorpe Lea Road, Egham, Surrey, was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £5,068 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Neil Fry said:

"Thankfully this incident was not symptomatic of widespread failures at Noon Products Ltd. The company has a proactive commitment to health and safety, and is keen to instigate improvements.

"Nevertheless, a worker was seriously injured and it serves as a reminder that irrespective of what processes and systems are in place you have to be vigilant at all times.

"Equipment must be safe, all employees must be competent and properly trained, and any non-compliance with safe-working practices must be stopped."

Source

FSA statement on Salmonella Gold-coast incident

21st of October 2013

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.

 

Source

How safe is food served by pop-up street outlets?

25th of October 2013

Street food is increasingly popular across the UK with a boom in outlets and festivals dedicated to the cuisine.

But how effectively is street food policed and is this sufficient to ensure public safety?

The Street Spice event in Newcastle upon Tyne in March 2013 resulted in more than 400 people reporting food poisoning, diarrhoea and vomiting as a result of raw curry leaves contaminated in Pakistan.

Presenter Chris Jackson investigates the practices at two street festivals with food scientist Jim Francis, to check their food hygiene standards.

He also asks Paula Davis, a Newcastle City Council environmental health officer, about how the council checks street food outlets which appear for a short period.

Inside Out is broadcast on BBC One North East and Cumbria on Monday, 14 October at 19:30 BST and nationwide on the iPlayer for seven days thereafter.

 

source

Transport firm owner sentenced following mechanic death

25th of October 2013

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."

 

Source

More than 1,100 construction sites fail safety checks

31st of October 2013
During a nationwide campaign, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) visited 2,607 sites where refurbishment or repair work was taking place.
 
Inspectors found basic safety standards were not being met on 1,105 sites.  On 644 sites, practices were so poor that enforcement action was necessary to protect workers – with 539 prohibition notices served ordering dangerous activities to stop immediately and 414 improvement notice issued requiring standards to improve.
 
The most common problems identified included failing to protect workers during activities at height, exposure to harmful dust and inadequate welfare facilities.
 
Heather Bryant, HSE’s Chief Inspector of Construction:
 
"It is disappointing to find a significant number of sites falling below acceptable health and safety standards, where our inspectors encountered poor practice this often went hand in hand with a lack of understanding. 
 
"Through initiatives like this we are able to tackle underlying issues before they become established and we will continue to work with the industry in an effort to drive up standards.
 
"However those who recklessly endanger the health and lives of their workforce can expect to face tough consequences.”
 
During the month of September, inspectors made unannounced visits to construction sites to ensure they were managing high-risk activity, such as working at height and the control of exposure to harmful dusts.  Inspectors were also looking for good site order, sound structures and basic welfare facilities.