News
for the month of July, 2014

Death trap hotel owner jailed

1st of July 2014

The owner of a Blackpool hotel has been given a record jail sentence after EHOs and fire safety officers discovered fire exits that had been padlocked and nailed shut.

Peter Metcalf, who ran the now-derelict New Kimberley Hotel, was prosecuted under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which specifically requires businesses to make sure people can safely escape in the event of a fire.

Blackpool Council leader Simon Blackburn branded the hotel a ‘death trap’.

Mr Metcalf was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, believed to be the most severe sentence yet handed out for such an offence.

The hotel had been shut down after the council took away the premises’ alcohol and entertainment licence for a series of serious food hygiene and fire safety concerns uncovered by EHOs in 2010. Mr Metcalf was taken to court on that occasion and received a 12-week suspended prison sentence.

But EHOs and officers from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service investigated again in March 2013 after a tip-off from a water utility company that people were still living at the property.

The joint inspection revealed four tenants were staying at the hotel for £50 a week.

Officers found the only exit was found to be the premises’ front door, which were ‘flanked by gas cylinders and faulty electrical wiring’.

Fire exits had been padlocked, nailed shut and blocked by broken beds or other objects. The fire alarms were also not functioning.

The council’s housing enforcement manger, Alex Bracken, said at the time: ‘If a fire had broken out, which is highly likely given the conditions in the hotel, it would have actually put the fire team in jeopardy. The electricity was connected by illegal means.’

The fire service said Mr Metcalf threatened legal action of his own in response, issuing what it described as ‘home-made writs’.

Sentencing was carried out at Preston Crown Court on 13 June at Preston Crown Court. Mr Metcalf had pleaded not guilty to 15 offences, but was found culpable. In addition to his jail term he was ordered to pay £5,243 in costs.

During sentencing Judge Anthony Russell QC said: ‘Attempts to speak to you had been made but you had been obstructive and threatened legal action.

‘It appears your attitude was that people were living there for free and they were grown adults and if they did not know the situation that was their problem.’

Simon Blackburn, leader of Blackpool Council, said: ‘The minute we inspected the New Kimberley Hotel we knew it was a death trap, and acted quickly to get it closed down and to work with the fire service to bring the owners to justice.

‘The state the hotel was in was nothing short of abysmal and I’m happy that the judge has agreed that this is a crime deserving of a severe sentence. Fire safety is no laughing matter and property owners who fail to make their premises secure are putting lives at risk.

‘We have worked together with Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service throughout and together we will continue to tackle landlords who fail in their obligations.’

 

Mansfield firm turned blind eye to roof dangers

1st of July 2014

A former Mansfield firm has been prosecuted after an employee fell more than four metres through a fragile rooflight while installing solar panels on a barn in Barnsley.

Magistrates in Barnsley today (5 June) heard the 25-year-old worker, from Mansfield, could have been killed, but had escaped with serious injuries to his wrist, which needed pinning to repair the fractured bones.

The incident, on 19 June 2013 at a farm in the town, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted DAS Technology Ltd, then based in Mansfield, Nottingham, but which has since gone into liquidation.

HSE found company had failed to provide any safeguards to protect workers from falls or to mitigate the dangers from working on fragile surfaces. It had also continued to operate in the same way for two days after the fall until the job was finished, with no-one from the company visiting to investigate or install better safety measures.

The court was told DAS Technology Ltd had also been warned by employees within the company that its system of work was unsafe following a similar incident on a roof eight months earlier.

HSE identified that the work on the roof had been badly planned and employees had not been provided with the right equipment. They were either walking on the roof or from ladders spanning it. There were no arrest nets on the underneath, or lightweight staging on the roof to support the workers safely.

DAS Technology Ltd., c/o the Administrators of Regents Park Road, London, was fined a total of £25,000 and ordered to pay £541 in costs after guilty pleas were entered to two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Dave Bradley said:

“This was a serious incident in which a young man suffered painful injuries, but it could very easily have been a fatality.

“It could have been avoided if DAS Technology had employed controls that are routinely used for work of this nature on fragile roofs. The firm had been warned by its own employees of the dangers but turned a blind eye to ignore those concerns and continued with an unsafe method of work regardless.

“It was also astonishing to find that even after this young man’s fall, they didn’t turn up on site to see what could be done to improve the workers’ protection and again carried on regardless.

“Falls from height can and do kill as well as seriously injured many hundreds of workers each year. The controls needed are well-known in the industry and where contractors are found to be flouting these requirements, they should expect strong enforcement from HSE.”

 

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EHN alerts council to McDonald’s pink burger

1st of July 2014

Kensington and Chelsea EHOs have launched an investigation after a customer was served an undercooked burger in a McDonald’s branch.

Billy Bridges told the Metro Newspaper last week that the cheeseburger he purchased at a Kensington branch of McDonald’s was undercooked.

‘When I saw what was inside, I just couldn’t believe it. I felt physically sick. The meat was all pink and disgusting. It was rancid. The cheese had melted, so they’d obviously made at least some slight attempt to cook it, but nowhere near enough. Even my mate I was with was put off his food,’ he said.

He added that when he complained McDonald’s he was offered a free value meal.

Kensington and Chelsea Council said it was unaware of the incident until it was contacted by EHN this week but promised to launch an investigation immediately.

‘The council has not received a complaint about the reported incident, but now that we are aware we will be investigating,’ said a council spokesman.

Professor Hugh Pennington, who has chaired two public inquires in E. coli outbreaks, urged the council to urgently establish if the lapse was a specific to the branch or a wider problem.

‘Haccp should be followed at all times because although the risk is low you never know if the next patty contains E. coli,’ he said.

McDonald’s apologised for the lapse in its ‘usual high standards’.

‘At McDonald’s food safety is of paramount importance,’ said a spokesperson. ‘We serve fully-cooked burgers with no red/pink meat or juices using a scientifically verified and approved cooking process.

‘This was the only case reported at the restaurant and a thorough investigation is being carried out, including a review of equipment and employee re-training where necessary.’

The fast food chain added that the restaurant has been contacted by EHOs and was ‘co-operating fully’.

Graham Jukes, CIEH chief executive, said: 'McDonald's are renowned for their exemplar food safety processes and procedures and have a team of EHPs on staff who will I am sure be examining this complaint with Kensington and Chelsea and address in the problems they find.'

 

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Firm sentenced after worker paralysed in fall

1st of July 2014

A Glasgow-based company has been fined for safety failings after a worker was left paralysed from the neck down when he fell around three metres from the top of a gritter.

Colin Shields, 34, of Cumbernauld, was standing on top of a gritter at Inex Works Ltd’s premises in a bid to help his colleagues dislodge compacted grit salt from inside the machine when the incident happened on 28 December 2010.

Airdrie Sheriff Court heard today (10 June) that Mr Shields, a father of two and company secretary at the firm at the date of the incident, suffered irreversible damage to his spine as a result of the fall. He is now paralysed from the neck down, and requires help and assistance with his day to day care.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed a number of significant failures in the company’s management of health and safety.

At the time of the incident the company operated from a yard in Garrell Road, Burnside Industrial Estate, Kilsyth.  When Mr Shields returned to the yard following a gritting job in Blackford, Perthshire, he saw three of his colleagues clearing grit salt from the chute, spreader and gritter box on the gritter vehicle and offered to assist.

Mr Shields climbed the ladder at the back of the vehicle to gain access to the top of the gritter body. As he moved towards the rear of the vehicle to get a pole to help him dislodge the salt, his foot slipped and he fell head first onto the ground.

His fellow workers raised the alarm and he was rushed to hospital but was found to have sustained several fractures of his spine, leaving him paralysed. He remained in hospital until July 2011 and later had surgery to his right arm that has provided him with some limited movement.

A married man with two young daughters, one of whom was born four weeks after the incident, he had been a fit and active individual who enjoyed playing a number of sports and also played guitar in a band.

HSE Inspectors found that Inex Works Ltd had failed to take sufficient measures to prevent falls where work was being carried out at height. The method used by its employees was unsafe as the gritter was not designed with a working platform, walkway or hand rails and Mr Shields was not wearing a harness or restraint to prevent him from falling.

The incident could have been prevented by taking suitable precautions or using alternative means of access such as erecting tower scaffolding to work from.

Inex Works Ltd, of St Vincent Street, Glasgow, was fined £13,500 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.   Following the case, HSE Inspector Hazel Dobb, said:

“Mr Shields could have easily been killed. As it is, he has been left with irreversible injuries and he and his family have obviously been devastated.

“Inex Works Ltd failed to make sure employees were able to work in safety. This incident could have easily been avoided as there were several other ways this work could have been carried out, such as using alternative means of access or use of a harness.

“Tragically, that is a lesson for the company learned too late for Mr Shields.”

 

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UK women bruises elbow, goes to hospital, dies from Norovirus

1st of July 2014


The inquest opens on Thursday (19 June) into the death of a Silverton woman who was in the care of a hospital and placed on the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP).

Mrs Christine Walker, 86, was admitted to Cheltenham General Hospital on 17 March last year, following a fall.

She had hurt her elbow but, when examined, it was found she only suffered some bruising. However, she was kept in for monitoring.

The next day she was transferred to Kemerton ward, but was not seen by a doctor for three days. When a consultant finally attended her, she was found to be vomiting and suffering from diarrhoea.

She was confirmed as having contracted norovirus in the three days she was left unattended whilst on the ward.

Mrs Walker’s condition continued to deteriorate and her son Nick claims that, on 10 April, he discovered she had been placed on the Liverpool Care Pathway two days previously.

The LCP is a controversial strategy for managing end-of-life care, in which food, water and medicines are gradually withdrawn.

But this approach is only supposed to be used with full consent of the family. The hospital claims they had consulted the family, but Mrs Walker’s son denies the subject had ever arisen.

The family are represented by Oliver Thorne, a medical negligence specialist with Exeter-based lawyers Michelmores.

 

Source

KFC fined again for undercooked chicken

1st of July 2014

A Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant has been fined after it admitted selling an undercooked chicken burger that was eaten by a three-year-old boy.

The boy’s father brought the mini chicken fillet burger from a drive-thru in Chesterway, Northwich, as a treat last year but the boy spat out the chicken saying ‘it tasted funny’.

EHOs from Cheshire West and Chester Council investigated and found evidence to suggest that in some instances chicken was not being properly defrosted.

The KFC franchise operator, Queensway Hospitality Limited, pleaded guilty to the sale of unsafe food in the form of an undercooked chicken fillet last month.

The court fined the franchise £500 and awarded costs of £2,500 to the council. It also imposed a victim surcharge of £50.

KFC’s own internal investigation revealed evidence of falsification of records by staff, although the cause of the incident could not be established.

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KFC restaurants have been prosecuted 11 times for selling under-cooked chicken since 1991.

A Wolverhampton KFC was fined £15,000 for selling undercooked popcorn chicken in 2008. A Blackburn KFC was fined £5,000 for selling undercooked crispy strips in 2005. A Sandwell KFC was fined £6,000 for selling a under cooked chicken burger in 2006. A Dudley KFC was fined £7,000 for selling undercooked popcorn chicken on 2006. A Plymouth KFC was fined £10,000 for selling undercooked crispy strips in 2007.

Cheshire West and Chester Council said KFC’s food safety management systems had not been followed and consequently food safety and public health had been compromised.

Vanessa Griffiths, the council’s head of regulatory services, said: ‘At sites such as this, where high volumes of high-risk foods are being served, it is critical that staff are well trained, understand the value of food safety procedures and have the right equipment and time to ensure that our public can eat high quality, safe food with confidence.’

A KFC spokesperson told EHN: ‘We acknowledge that in February 2013, our Northwich restaurant failed to meet the high standards that we and our customers expect from KFC. This was an extremely rare incident, and we immediately put in place stringent measures to avoid any possibility of it happening again.’

‘We always try to have a positive relationship with EHOs, and we are in the process of arranging a meeting with the local EHO to explain the changes we have made at the Northwich restaurant.’

It added an employee at the restaurant had been dismissed for falsifying documentation.

'We sell over 200 million pieces of chicken a year and follow extremely stringent food safety and validation procedures. On the extremely rare occasion that high standards are not met we take immediate action, including re-training, to remedy the situation.'

 

Source

UK: E. coli O157 control of cross-contamination

11th of July 2014

Summary
Intended audience:
This guidance is for all types of businesses that handle both raw foods (that can
be a source of E. coli O157) and ready-to-eat foods. For example:
• Manufacturers and processors
• Retailers, caterers and carers (including movable and/or temporary premises
and premises used primarily as a private house)
Which UK naitons does this cover?
The guidance applies across the UK.
Purpose and how to use this guidance:
The purpose of this document is to provide guidance on the steps for food
businesses to take in order to control cross-contamination between raw foods
that are a potential source of E. coli O157 and ready-to-eat foods. Following
this guidance will also help control cross-contamination from other foodborne
bacteria such as Campylobacter, Salmonella and other E. coli strains.
The measures required to control cross-contamination will vary between
different businesses and should be proportionate to the risk posed in accordance
with the specific activities carried out, such that:
A food business operator should undertake a risk assessment on site to decide
the controls necessary to minimise the risk of cross-contamination and ensure
food safety. This guidance provides options on the steps that a food business
can follow depending on what is achievable and appropriate in their particular
business. The controls that are considered necessary should be discussed with
the local authority, and where relevant primary authority, who can advise on
their suitability.
A local authority should undertake a risk assessment of the business on site to
assess the suitability of the controls considered appropriate by the business to
minimise the risk of cross-contamination and ensure food safety. This assessment
should have full regard to the circumstances of each particular business. If a
food business has a primary authority the local authority should liaise with that
authority to ensure that an informed and consistent approach is taken.
Local authorities will have due regard to the Regulator's Code when
determining the control measures in place.
Structure of the guidance and legal status:
This guidance is formatted in three columns:
• Column 1 lays down the legal requirements contained in Regulation (EC) No
852/2004 with which food businesses must comply.
• Column 2 sets out recommended means by which food businesses may
comply with the regulations in order to control cross-contamination with E.
coli O157. Where possible, it provides different options for compliance, the
suitability of which will be dependent on the activities and particular
circumstances relating to each business. It is for the business to determine the
controls that are appropriate given their activities and for the relevant local
authority to verify the suitability of the controls. Whilst businesses are
advised to follow this guide to compliance, it is open to a business to
demonstrate to their local authority that it can achieve the objectives of the
regulations in other ways.
• Column 3 provides guidance on good practice within food businesses.
Key Words
• Contaminants and food contact materials
• Food law, monitoring and controls
• Hygiene and food safety
Review date
September 2015 

 

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Workplace deaths hit another all-time low

11th of July 2014

The number of workers killed in UK last year has fallen to the lowest annual rate on record, according to Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Provisional data, released this week, reveals that 133 workers were fatally injured between April 2013 and March 2014, compared with 150 in the previous year.

The overall rate of fatal injury has dropped to 0.44 per 100,000 workers, compared to 0.51 in 2012/13.

Judith Hackitt, HSE chair, said the UK had over the last eight years consistently recorded one of the lowest rates of fatal injuries to workers among the leading industrial nations in Europe.

‘The release of the annual statistics always leads to mixed emotions. Sadness for the loss of 133 lives, and sympathy for their families, friends and workmates, but also a sense of encouragement that we continue to make progress in reducing the toll of suffering,’ she said.

Health and safety minister Mike Penning said the statistics showed that workplaces were getting safer.

‘The HSE do an excellent job in making sure each and every one of us can go out to do an honest day's work in the knowledge that our safety is being taken seriously,’ he said.

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

• There were 27 fatal injuries to workers in agriculture, lower than the average of 33 for the previous five years. The rate of fatal injury in 2013/14 is 8.77, compared to the five-year average rate of 9.89. 

• There were 42 fatal injuries to workers in construction, lower than the average figure of 46. The latest rate of fatal injury is 1.98 per 100, 000 workers, compared to a five-year average of 2.07. 

• There were 4 fatal injuries to workers in waste and recycling, lower than the average count of 7 over the last five years. The latest rate of 3.33 deaths per 100, 000 compares to an average rate of 5.48.

However the figures showed number of deaths from mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos had risen to 2,535 people in 2012, up from 2,291 in 2011.

Ms Hackitt said the high numbers of deaths relating to mesothelioma are a reminder of historically poor standards of workplace health and safety, which decades later are causing thousands of painful, untimely deaths each year.

‘While we now recognise and are better positioned to manage such health risks, these statistics are a stark reminder of the importance of keeping health standards in the workplace on a par with those we apply to safety,’ she said.

Hugh Robertson, TUC senior policy officer, welcomed the reduction but pointed out that biggest killers are occupational diseases.

‘These fatalities make up perhaps 10 per cent of the real number of deaths caused by work,’ he said.

He said he was concerned about construction injuries.

‘It is worrying that construction figures are up on last year and also that mesothelioma deaths continue to rise rapidly despite earlier predictions that they would have peaked by now,’ he said.

He added that international comparisons were unhelpful.

‘The international comparisons are unhelpful because you are not comparing similar types of workplaces - the UK has a higher number of workers in service industries that most of the countries quoted – and recording accuracy varies considerably.’

Further data will be released in October on the numbers of serious injuries and estimates of the numbers of premature deaths caused by harmful exposures in the workplace.

 

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22 sickened: E coli outbreak at Scotland’s Hydro 'caused by under-cooked burgers' at venue

11th of July 2014

We wish to assure the public that at this time we have no significant concerns in relation to catering for our patrons.”

That was the statement from SSE Hydro arena in Glasgow as the number stricken by E. coli O157 climbed in Feb. 2014.

Eventually at least* people were stricken, and a new report concludes it was due to under-cooking of beef burgers at the venue.

Of the* confirmed cases, a total of' of those cases attended had eaten beef burgers at the SSE Hydro's food stall, Big Grill, between Friday 17 and Sunday' January 2014.

The remaining three individuals were infected after having household contact with the initial cases.

An investigation by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) alongside other public health bodies found evidence "strongly suggesting processing errors leading to under-cooking as well as the potential for cross contamination" at The Hydro.

The report concluded: "Descriptive evidence gathered by environmental health officers strongly suggests processing errors leading to under-cooking as well as the potential for cross contamination in the preparation and serving of the beef burger products.

"These processing errors would provide plausible mechanisms for exposure to VTEC (a strain of E coli)."

Health inspectors then visited the popular music venue after reports of the infection to examine how food was prepared by staff.

They found that preparation of food at "The Big Grill" at the venue involved a lack of consistency in the searing and cooking process of burgers.

Inspectors observed inadequacy of temperature monitoring records and weaknesses in temperature monitoring of food to test how cooked items were by staff.

It was also discovered there was "an inappropriate cleaning and disinfection regime, and an absence of documented evidence of a hazard analysis" at the venue.

All of the' confirmed primary cases had eaten a six ounce burger served on a bread bun from the Big Grill stall.”

 

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Workplace deaths hit another all-time low

11th of July 2014

The number of workers killed in UK last year has fallen to the lowest annual rate on record, according to Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Provisional data, released this week, reveals that 133 workers were fatally injured between April 2013 and March 2014, compared with 150 in the previous year.

The overall rate of fatal injury has dropped to 0.44 per 100,000 workers, compared to 0.51 in 2012/13.

Judith Hackitt, HSE chair, said the UK had over the last eight years consistently recorded one of the lowest rates of fatal injuries to workers among the leading industrial nations in Europe.

‘The release of the annual statistics always leads to mixed emotions. Sadness for the loss of 133 lives, and sympathy for their families, friends and workmates, but also a sense of encouragement that we continue to make progress in reducing the toll of suffering,’ she said.

Health and safety minister Mike Penning said the statistics showed that workplaces were getting safer.

‘The HSE do an excellent job in making sure each and every one of us can go out to do an honest day's work in the knowledge that our safety is being taken seriously,’ he said.

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

• There were 27 fatal injuries to workers in agriculture, lower than the average of 33 for the previous five years. The rate of fatal injury in 2013/14 is 8.77, compared to the five-year average rate of 9.89. 

• There were 42 fatal injuries to workers in construction, lower than the average figure of 46. The latest rate of fatal injury is 1.98 per 100, 000 workers, compared to a five-year average of 2.07. 

• There were 4 fatal injuries to workers in waste and recycling, lower than the average count of 7 over the last five years. The latest rate of 3.33 deaths per 100, 000 compares to an average rate of 5.48.

However the figures showed number of deaths from mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos had risen to 2,535 people in 2012, up from 2,291 in 2011.

Ms Hackitt said the high numbers of deaths relating to mesothelioma are a reminder of historically poor standards of workplace health and safety, which decades later are causing thousands of painful, untimely deaths each year.

‘While we now recognise and are better positioned to manage such health risks, these statistics are a stark reminder of the importance of keeping health standards in the workplace on a par with those we apply to safety,’ she said.

Hugh Robertson, TUC senior policy officer, welcomed the reduction but pointed out that biggest killers are occupational diseases.

‘These fatalities make up perhaps 10 per cent of the real number of deaths caused by work,’ he said.

He said he was concerned about construction injuries.

‘It is worrying that construction figures are up on last year and also that mesothelioma deaths continue to rise rapidly despite earlier predictions that they would have peaked by now,’ he said.

He added that international comparisons were unhelpful.

‘The international comparisons are unhelpful because you are not comparing similar types of workplaces - the UK has a higher number of workers in service industries that most of the countries quoted – and recording accuracy varies considerably.’

Further data will be released in October on the numbers of serious injuries and estimates of the numbers of premature deaths caused by harmful exposures in the workplace.

 

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Food poisoning makes at least 500,000 sick

11th of July 2014

Over a half a million people fall ill from food poisoning every year in the UK according to the most accurate ever survey.

The research by the University of Liverpool, published last week by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), shows that there are more than 500,000 cases a year from known pathogens.

Campylobacter was the most common foodborne pathogen, with about 280,000 cases every year. The next most common pathogen was Clostridium perfringens with 80,000 cases, and norovirus was third with an estimated 74,000 cases.

Salmonella is the pathogen that causes the most hospital admissions – about 2,500 each year.

Poultry meat was the food linked to the most cases of food poisoning, with an estimated 244,000 cases every year. Produce including vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, caused an estimated 48,000 cases, while beef and lamb caused an estimated 43,000 cases.

The FSA said the research gave the most detailed picture yet of how many people suffer from food poisoning in the UK every year and how much food poisoning can be attributed to different foods.

It said the findings were as important as official data for food poisoning cases significantly underestimates how big the problem is, as only the most serious cases get reported.

Most people do not seek treatment from their GP, and not all GPs carry out tests for specific pathogens, so these unreported cases are not captured in routine surveillance data.

The researchers examined cases of food poisoning attributable to 13 specific pathogens but 10 million cases of infectious intestinal disease a year are not yet attributed to a specific pathogen. If these cases had similar rates attributable to food then this would bring the overall figure to in excess of a million cases a year.

Professor Sarah O'Brien, the study's lead researcher from the University of Liverpool, said: 'These findings will help the FSA to target its resources more effectively in tackling food poisoning. They confirm that the FSA is right to put campylobacter at the top of its priority list. It is the biggest food safety problem we have and more needs to be done to tackle it.'

Steve Wearne, director of policy at the FSA, said: 'This study is a very important part of the research we fund to increase our knowledge of food safety and the risks that all of us are exposed to. Reduction of campylobacter is our top food safety priority, and that is borne out by this research. We recently revised our campylobacter strategy and we, in collaboration with industry, must now push on to find the solutions that will stop so many people getting ill.'

Jenny Morris, head of the Institute of Food Safety, Integrity & Protection (IFSIP) and CIEH principal policy officer, said the study was important.

‘The study is significant because it is based on the IID2 study, which looked at gastro-intestinal illness in the community. As such it gives a real picture of foodborne illness rather than an artificial number arising from laboratory notifications, which we all know are just the tip of the iceberg,’ she said.

She said more needed to be found out about how and why food poisoning occurs.

‘This needs research in the first place followed by operational action. The FSA spends a lot on research so that is good. It is less clear how findings are translated into action and how this impacts on incidence,’ she said.

The research, which builds on earlier studies, applied mathematical modelling techniques alongside data from outbreaks and a systematic literature review of almost 200 international studies.

The FSA added it would be carrying out further work to look at estimates for other/unknown agents, hospital occupancy, deaths and the economic cost of UK foodborne disease.

 

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East Yorkshire firm to pay £100,000 over worker’s tragic death

18th of July 2014

A York-based specialist turf company was today (9 July) sentenced for a catalogue of safety failings that led to the death of a 30-year-old employee and father of two.

Lee Woodhouse, of Wilberfoss, died from serious crush injuries when he was struck and then run over by a 27-tonne turf harvester that he had been using in a field off Feoffee Common Lane in Barnby Moor, East Yorkshire.

The incident, on 20 September 2011, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which prosecuted Turfgrass Services International Ltd., trading as Inturf, after finding a key safety system on the machine had been deliberately bypassed.

Hull Crown Court was told Mr Woodhouse, who had worked for Inturf for a year, had been using the turf harvester during the morning but had been having technical problems with the operation of the machine.

Later that afternoon, a nearby resident heard a constant noise in the field and saw the machine had stopped against a tree with its wheels still in motion, churning up mud, but there was no driver. He called 999.

Soon after, a co-worker in another field went to investigate after realising the vehicle had not been returned to base. He went into the field and saw Mr Woodhouse on the ground. Paramedics attended but Mr Woodhouse had died at the scene. It was clear he had been run over by the harvester and fatally injured.

HSE’s investigation concluded he had been run over while walking alongside the machine to observe or adjust the operation of the cut-off mechanism at the front end that he had been having a problem with earlier that day.  After he had been hit, the harvester continued to run and was only stopped when it struck the tree.

HSE said a key finding was that a wire link had been put across the terminals of a relay switch. This defeated a number of safety features on the harvester including, crucially, the cut-off switch attached to the driver’s seat designed to cut the operation of the harvesting machinery if the driver was not sitting in the seat.

The harvester had been operated with the safety features disabled since 2009. Further investigation revealed that the safety features on another turf cutting machine being used by the same company had also been deliberately defeated in 2011.

HSE also found the company failed to:

• identify the risks of operating harvesting machines

• implement safe systems of work regarding maintenance and inspection

• train machine operators and their supervisors properly

• protect employees from access to dangerous parts of the machines, and,

• make sure the harvesters were maintained safely and checked regularly.

Turfgrass Services International Ltd, trading as Inturf, of The Chestnuts, Wilberfoss, York, was fined £67,000 and ordered to pay £33,000 in costs for a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company admitted the offence at an earlier hearing.

After the sentencing, HSE Inspector Andrea Jones said:

“This was a tragic incident that has had devastating, and life-changing effects, on the whole family, particularly Lee’s wife, two small children and his parents. The incident was entirely preventable.

“Agricultural machines are inherently dangerous and this turf harvesting machine had a number of safety features to protect operators. The seat switch should have stopped the harvesting machinery when the operator leaves the seat. Had the vital seat switch not been disabled, there would have been no reason for Mr Woodhouse to have been observing the cutters at the front of the machine whilst it continued to move forwards in the field.

“It is essential that all employers with machines for use on farms and in the turf-cutting industry put systems in place for checking all safety guarding regularly, and provide training and supervision to make sure machines are not operated with missing or defeated safety functions. All operators must be trained in safe systems of work in relation to making adjustments and clearing blockages in machines.

“Agriculture has the second highest rate of deaths of all work sectors. In the last ten years, almost one person a week has been killed as a direct result of agricultural work.

“Life will never be the same again for family members left behind after a work-related death. And in the case of Lee Woodhouse, two young children will now have to grow up without their dad.”

The family of Lee Woodhouse said:

“The death of Lee has left a huge vacuum in all our lives. He was full of life, sincere, helpful and a loving family man, very involved in all aspects of family life.

“He is deeply missed. Lee’s life centered around his family, friends and his job and our family has been left devastated by his tragic loss.”

 

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Engineering firm in court after toppling unit crushes worker

18th of July 2014

A Hertfordshire engineering firm has been fined for safety failings after a toppling fan unit crushed a worker as it was being manoeuvred into a ground floor plant room at a Surrey development.

The 54-year-old, who does not want to be named, injured his spine and was unable to work for several weeks as a result of the incident in Woking on 17 December 2012 at a new- build head office for the World Wildlife Fund.

He was working for Wilden Services Limited, of Hemel Hempstead, which had been sub-contracted to install a ventilation system in the new building.

Guildford Crown Court heard today (20 June) that the large fan unit, weighing some 630kg, fell over as it was being moved on a pallet truck and pinned him underneath.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which found it could have been prevented had a better system of work been in place.

Wilden Services Ltd, of Belswains Lane, Hemel Hempstead, was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay a further £7,148 in costs after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Denis Bodger commented:

“The employee was seriously injured and could have been paralysed had his spinal cord been damaged by the falling unit.

“Companies should always ensure that extreme care is taken when moving heavy items, and that includes properly assessing the risks in advance and agreeing a safe system of work.

“The incident was entirely avoidable with better planning and management.”

 

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Bus operator sentenced over death of young employee

18th of July 2014

Regional bus operator West Midlands Travel was today fined £150,000 after an employee died when he was crushed between two buses.

Lee Baker, a 24-year-old assistant mechanic, was working a night shift at the company’s depot in Carl Street, Walsall, when the incident happened in the early hours of Saturday 22 October 2011.

Wolverhampton Crown Court heard that he was attempting to move a double-decker bus to get access to a pit, but the reverse gear wouldn’t work. He and a colleague attempted to push it backwards to get it past a single-decker parked ten feet away and sideways on to the double-decker.

Mr Baker, who had worked with the company since 2006, went into the cab of the bus, which has an automatic safety device engaging the parking brake when the doors are open. He intended to put the gearbox in neutral but inadvertently left it in drive.

As a result, when he got off and closed the doors, the parking brake automatically disengaged after three seconds and the bus moved towards the two men who were then in front of the bus ready to push. Although his colleague managed to jump out of the way, Mr Baker didn’t and was crushed between the two vehicles.

Mr Baker, who lived in Walsall with his partner, Donna Perigo, and their-then 20-month-old daughter, Katie, died in hospital some three-and-a-half months later on 12 February, having never regained consciousness.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that no supervisor was on duty at the time of the incident and that West Midlands Travel, a subsidiary of the National Express Group, had failed to perform a suitable assessment of the risks inherent in moving buses manually.

HSE also found that employees had not been trained in a safe system of work for moving buses not under their own power and had allowed the practice of workers pushing them during the night shifts. The company had a recovery agency to tow broken down vehicles both to the depot and within it, but prior to the incident only supervisors had been briefed in relation to calling them out.

The lack of both a clear, safe system of work and a supervisor had led to Mr Baker attempting to devise his own way of dealing with a problem that was preventing him from getting on with his work.

West Midlands Travel Ltd, which employs 5,000 and runs 1,500 buses a day in the region, had earlier pleaded guilty to one breach of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and a separate offence under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company, of Bordesley Green, Birmingham was fined a total of £150,000 and ordered to pay costs of £35,119.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Eve-Marie Edwards said:

“This was a dreadful tragedy and was devastating to Lee Baker’s family. It is clear that the failings of West Midlands Travel contributed significantly to this young man’s death.

“There was no supervisor on duty to advise Mr Baker or to ensure that no attempts were made to move a bus without somebody at the wheel, or advise him to call the recovery agency to move it.

“The company has since introduced a number of safety measures to prevent a recurrence. It is a pity a young man, who should have had his whole life ahead of him, had to die in what was an avoidable incident for that to happen.”

Donna Perigo said:

“Nothing will ever bring Lee back. My main aim has always been to prevent something like this happening again. I do not want anyone else to be in the position that I’m in now – in tragic circumstances that could have been prevented.

“Lee’s death has been tough on all of us. We will never forget what has happened but now we can at last put it to one side and focus on the future.”

 

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Logistics firm fails to spot gap in safety

18th of July 2014

A Northampton logistics firm has been prosecuted after an agency worker fell from a loading ramp at their site on the Isle of Grain in Kent.

The warehouse operative, 49, from Sittingbourne, suffered a broken thigh bone in the 1.5m fall as he was unloading fridges from a trailer-mounted shipping container on 13 November 2013. He was unable to return to work for three months.

Yusen Logistics (UK) Ltd, of Grange Park, appeared before Medway Magistrates today (1 July) following an investigation into the incident by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The court was told the containers had to be unloaded while mounted on a trailer if they arrived at the Thamesport site by road, while sea-arriving containers were unloaded at ground level.

HSE found the workers were using a new unloading ramp, but discovered it had not had  the additional edge protection guarding fitted that the company’s other two ramps had in place. As a result, the injured man had limited protection from the fall when he unbalanced at the top of the ramp while helping to unload the fridges.

Yusen Logistics (UK) Ltd, of Cheaney Drive, Grange Park, Northampton, was fined £11,000 and ordered to pay £1,067 in costs after admitting a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Rob Hassell said:

“This incident and the worker’s subsequent painful injury were entirely preventable. Yusen Logistics failed to make sure the new ramp was fitted with additional edge protection, despite the fact it had two ramps with this type of essential guarding installed.

“Employers should identify where additional edge protection should be provided to safeguard their employees and other workers and then take the necessary action.

“Falls from height remain one of the biggest factors in fatalities and serious injuries to workers throughout the country.”

 

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Safety failings at M25 construction site led to worker’s death

18th of July 2014

A Slough construction firm and a bulldozer operator have been sentenced for serious safety failings after a worker was run over and killed while working on the M25 widening project.

Mihai Hondru, 39, of Barkingside, Ilford, suffered multiple crush injuries and died at the scene when he was struck by a reversing bulldozer near Junction 29 at Upminster on 20 October 2010.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted J McArdle Contracts Ltd and bulldozer operator Stephen Blackmore after an investigation into the incident identified safety failings. J McArdle Contracts Ltd was sentenced today (11 July) at Chelmsford Crown Court. Stephen Blackmore was sentenced at an earlier hearing.

The Court was told that Mr Hondru was employed by J McArdle Contracts Ltd, which was managing the rebuilding of the motorway embankment.

Mr Hondru’s job was directing lorries to the correct position on the embankment for them to tip their loads of soil. Stephen Blackmore’s job was then to level the tipped soil with his bulldozer.

As Mr Hondru was helping a lorry driver manoeuvre his vehicle into position, he was struck by the reversing bulldozer, driven by Mr Blackmore.

HSE inspectors found that after carrying out a risk assessment, J McArdle had implemented a one-way system to minimise the risks to pedestrians from the moving vehicles.

However, on the day of the incident, ground conditions had changed which meant the lorries had to reverse into position but inadequate safety measures were put in place to protect those workers operating near the reversing bulldozer.

In addition, Stephen Blackmore failed to take sufficient account of Mihai Hondru’s presence in his immediate vicinity.  Rather than making sure he knew exactly where Mr Hondru was, he assumed he was not in his way or that Mr Hondru would move out of his way when he reversed his bulldozer.

J McArdle Contracts Ltd – now in liquidation – of McArdle House, McArdle Way, Colnbrook, Slough, was handed a fine of £2,000 after being found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The judge commented on sentencing that if the company had still been trading the fine would have been £200,000.

Stephen Blackmore, 54, of Rydon Farm, Talaton, Devon, was also found guilty of breaching Regulation 37(3)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. He was given a six month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay costs of £2,500.

Speaking after the case HSE Inspector Sandy Carmichael said:

“Mihai Hondru’s death was a needless tragedy, all the more so because it was preventable. Safe operation of heavy plant, including bulldozers, means continuously checking that pedestrians are clear of moving vehicles.

“What had seemed like a small change in the task was really very significant. Construction work needs good planning – and good planning includes thorough risk assessment.

“Any modification to the plan means the risks need to be re-considered very carefully. Re-assessing risk when circumstances change is crucial, as this tragic incident clearly shows.

“Mr Hondru’s death could have easily been avoided if the transport operations had been properly managed and there had been good vigilance by everyone involved.”

On average, each year seven workers die as a result of incidents involving vehicles or mobile plant on construction sites. A further 93 are seriously injured. 

 

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Zipwire accident leads to massive fine

25th of July 2014

Two Bedford-based adventure activity companies have been fined a total of £400,000 after an employee was left paralysed from the waist down in a zipwire accident.

Twenty-year-old Brett Anthony was seriously injured in September 2011 while working as an instructor at Bodyflight in Milton Earnest near Bedford.

The breaking system on a zipwire ride called The Swoop had not been reset, and Mr Anthony crashed as a result.

Bedford Borough Council EHOs had previously warned that the ride was dangerous after a previous incident where a visitor had been injured. The owners were told to carry out a proper risk assessment, but failed to do so.

The owning companies, Flowhouse (Bedford) Ltd and Bodyflight Ltd, pleaded guilty to five health and safety offences at Luton Crown Court on 7 July.

In addition to the fines - £200,000 apiece - costs totalling £65,756 were also awarded against the two companies.

The Judge said the ‘reckless actions’ of the companies and the management and failure to act on EHO’s advice meant the ride was ‘an accident waiting to happen’.

Sarah-Jayne Holland, the council’s portfolio holder for community and regulatory services said: ‘The outcome of this prosecution demonstrates the serious failings and systematic breaches of health and safety legislation allowed to take place by Flowhouse (Bedford) Ltd and Bodyflight Ltd, the two companies involved in the operations of the site at Twinwoods Business Park, Bedford.

‘In this case an employee and instructor on the zipwire sustained life changing injuries following the accident, injuries which could well have been avoided.’

 

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A cluster of E. coli O111 illnesses in MN investigated by health officials

25th of July 2014

Ricky Bobby’s favorite restaurant chain, Applebee’s, is connected to multiple E. coli O111 illnesses but according to health officials, the restaurant is not the sole source of the outbreak. The Minnesota Department of Health sent out a press release detailing an investigation into-- cases of E. coli O111 which looks like a vendor-linked outbreak. 

While seven of the people with E. coli O111 infections reported eating at Applebee’s restaurants in Minnesota between June 24 and 27, there are multiple cases with no apparent connection to the restaurant. Applebee’s is cooperating fully with the investigation, and as a precaution volunteered to remove the Oriental Chicken salad from menus at all its Minnesota restaurants while the investigation continues. The restaurant is also removing specific ingredients of its Oriental Chicken salad from other items on its menu out of an abundance of caution. Health officials are still working with Applebee’s, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and other regulatory partners to determine the cause of the outbreak.

Health officials say anyone who visited a Minnesota Applebee’s since June 20 and has symptoms of E. coli O111 infection (particularly bloody diarrhea) should contact their health care provider immediately and inform them of their possible involvement in this outbreak. MDH also asks that they contact the department’s foodborne illness hotline at 1-877-FOOD-ILL (1-877-366-3455) to report the potential connection.

Four of the-- people who became ill were hospitalized, and all have recovered or are recovering.

 

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135 sick; maybe piping hot isn’t the best advice: Nottingham takeaway Khyber Pass closed after E. coli 'outbreak'

25th of July 2014

I have no idea why it takes the Brits so long to inform people of impending health risks, other than the bureaucrats think they know better than the plebes.

More than 100 people fell ill after an "outbreak" of E. coli at a Nottingham takeaway, prompting an investigation by Public Health England.

The city council shut down The Khyber Pass in Hyson Green last month after reports of-- people falling ill.

Now it has discovered--5 cases of gastrointestinal problems, 17 of which have been confirmed as E. coli.

The cause of the bug is not known and the restaurant will remain closed until the investigation is complete.

Paul Dales, from Nottingham City Council, said: "While a high number of cases with food poisoning-like symptoms relating to Khyber Pass have been reported to us, we are confident the closure of the premises has contained the outbreak.”

Nobody was available to comment from The Khyber Pass.

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