Packaging firm fined for ignoring safety warnings

The owners of a packaging manufacturer in Bolton have been prosecuted and fined for deliberately ignoring health and safety warnings over a period of three years.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted company directors Yvonne Barrett and Anthony Smith after they failed to ensure that guards were fitted to the machines they used to produce packaging for fast food outlets. These guards are designed to protect workers fingers from becoming caught in the rotating machinery.

The company, First Packaging Ltd, was issued with an Improvement Notice by the HSE in January 2008. Despite a six month extension on the deadline to comply with the notice, no guards were fitted on the machines by the time inspectors visited again.

The HSE was told that the factory was closing, so officers took no further action. However, the factory actually moved to new premises in Westhoughton, still using the same unguarded machines. More Improvement Notices were issued, along with Prohibition Notices.

Eventually, the owners of the company were fined for failing to ensure the safety of workers. It is assumed that the directors wilfully ignored safety warnings, rather than doing so because they hadn’t had the right health and safety training.

Healthcare provider admits failings at new care home

The healthcare provider Housing 21 has been forced to admit that standards at its new care home in Yate are not what they should be, after several complaints were made about tenants being left unaided for days.

The facility, which is made up of 60 self-contained apartments, is designed for people aged 55 or over who need round-the-clock care. The home only opened in January but unsatisfactory staffing levels have prompted a number of complaints already. It has been reported that the facility has been without a manager for months, and residents are not getting the extra care that they need.

The daughter of an 89-year-old resident who lives in Cambrian Green Court told local newspaper the Gazette that there were no concerns over the standards of care training at the home, only the number of staff on duty. Elspeth Higgs said:

“I am not criticising the staff,”

“They are absolutely brilliant – there are just not enough of them.”

“They are absolutely run ragged. The situation is dreadful.”

The director of services for Housing 21, Les Clarke, said that the housing provider is working hard to make the required improvements and ensure that people at the facility are provided with a good standard of care.

First aid training: vital preparation for medical emergencies

Going on a first aid training course can give you important skills and knowledge that could help you save lives, in a wide number of different situations.

Many people go on first aid at work training courses, sent by employers who are legally required to have qualified first aiders. These courses teach participants how to deal with a range of workplace medical emergencies – from bleeding, shock and unconsciousness to injuries and allergic reactions – and these skills can also be applied to situations outside of work. First aiders can prove themselves useful whilst out shopping, on holiday or even just waiting for a bus, should they encounter someone in need of emergency medical help.

There are some lines of work, however, in which first aid knowledge is more than just desirable. If you work with children (i.e. in a nursery, school or childcare facility) or within the health and social care sector, first aid training is a must. People working with children usually undergo paediatric first aid training, as well as anaphylaxis first aid training for situations in which someone has a life-threatening allergic reaction.

Just as important as initial first aid training is refresher training, undertaken at least once a year. This keeps your skills and knowledge sharp, so you never forget what you’ve learned.

Shetland engineering firm fined over worker fall

An engineering firm based in Shetland has admitted health and safety breaches which led to an employee sustaining serious injuries, and has been fined £26,700 as a result.

Ness Engineering was prosecuted after employee David Thomson, 22, fell from the bucket of a telehandler after a piece of metal hit him. He fell up to nine feet to the ground and sustained serious injuries to his back, arm and hand.

Lerwick Sheriff Court heard recently that the managing director of the firm, Ronnie Leslie, had undertaken a risk assessment on the task and that this had been followed until the team encountered unforeseen difficulties. At this point, when removing a four metre long metal section from a structure, they deviated from their health and safety training and this is when the accident occurred.

Ness Engineering pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations and was fined £26,700 as a result. Commenting on the verdict, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Alan MacKinnon said:

“It was entirely foreseeable that there was a risk of either the men or the metal falling from the bucket, yet the company did nothing to ensure they had the right equipment on site to allow Mr Thomson and his colleague to carry out their work safely.”

Nightclub bosses fined for fire safety breaches

The owners of a nightclub in the Greater Manchester town of Bury have been prosecuted and fined after breaching fire safety regulations.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service brought the charges against Kevin Clarke and Stephen Bailey after inspecting three premises in Bury – Cooler Bar, Temptations and Coco Lounge. Numerous issues were uncovered during the inspections, such as failures to install fire alarms, carry out fire risk assessments and ensure staff underwent proper fire safety training.

Mr Bailey, from Breightmet, was ordered to pay £550 in fines and £100 in court costs. Mr Clarke, who is from Bury, was fined £2,700 and ordered to pay court costs of £1,906.

Commenting on the case, the director of prevention and protection at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, Peter O’Reilly, said:

“We always support businesses that work to make their premises safe for people to use.

“However, we will take action against those businesses that neglect fire safety and, in doing so, put the lives of staff and the public at risk.

“We hope this court case sends a clear message that fire safety must be taken seriously.”

Brockenhurst care home ordered to improve standards

A care home based in the Hampshire village of Brockenhurst in the New Forest has been ordered to improve its standards after inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) uncovered numerous problems at the premises.

After inspecting the Fernlea Care Home complex, which accommodates people who have learning difficulties, inspectors found that residents were often living in damp, dirty and even dangerous conditions. The building was found to be poorly maintained, and inspectors found mould on the walls as well as loose floorboards and nails.

There were also problems with staffing, as it was found that there were too few staff on duty to take residents outside when they wished to. In one case, a resident reported leaving the confines of the care home just eight times in July 2011. Care training did not seem to be an issue at Fernlea, however, it was simply the number of staff employed at the home.

The home’s owners have pledged to act on the report’s recommendations and improve standards at the complex, which includes giving it a major facelift. If Fernlea’s owners fail to act on their promises, the home could end up being closed down by the Care Quality Commission.

How workplace-related violence can be avoided

Even though a great deal of effort has been made on the part of businesses and organisations to eradicate work-related violence, cases of it occurring are reported all the time. As an employer, it is your responsibility to do all you can to reduce conflict, violence and aggression in the workplace, and the first place to start is with health and safety training.

There is a course, the CIEH Level 2 Award in Conflict Resolution and Personal Safety, which is designed to train people in how to look after themselves and their colleagues, and resolve potentially dangerous situations, in the workplace.

This training covers the demands and stresses of a range of workplace environments, with a particular focus on those where the potential for aggression and conflict is high.

The benefits of training yourself and your staff in conflict resolution and personal safety can be huge, not only from the point of view of your employees. The cost of conflict, violence and aggression to businesses can be huge, affecting operational effectiveness and staff turnover. It can even end up in the courts, at great expense to your business.

You can prevent much of this by taking steps to reduce conflict and aggression in your workplace, starting with the right health and safety training.

Cornish tea shop celebrates food safety award

A tea shop in the Cornish city of Truro has been honoured with a prestigious food safety award for its exemplary food hygiene training standards and its healthy food offering.

The Tea Shop, situated in Trewithen Gardens near Grampound Road, has been presented with the Gold Level CHEFS Award for offering healthy, locally sourced food and maintaining excellent standards of food hygiene.

The proud owners of the tea shop, Mark and Sonya Rogers, will now be able to display the blue logo in the window of their premises to let customers know that they offer healthy menu options and are committed to delivering a high level of food safety.

Commenting on receiving the award, Mark and Sonya said:

“We would like to say a very big thank you to all our staff in helping us achieve this award and to Cornwall Council for recognising the hard work and ongoing commitment we have pledged to maintaining and continually improving standards.”

This achievement demonstrates the importance of maintaining rigorous food safety standards in all premises serving food. By ensuring all staff undergo food hygiene training and implementing a food safety policy, food-serving premises can be recognised for their commitment to serving healthy, safe and nutritious food.

Former fire station in Norwich fails fire safety inspection

A building in Norwich which was formerly the town’s main fire station has failed a fire safety inspection, thereby delaying a move by new tenants.

The tenants were due to move in to the Bethel Street building a week or so ago, leasing the building on a temporary basis to prevent vandalism and squatting.

However, an inspection carried out by Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service has prevented new tenants from moving in, as officers found that the building is not safe enough. The Grade II listed building was formerly the main fire station for Norwich city centre before firefighters moved to a new purpose-built building on the outskirts of the city last month.

Another inspection will be carried out, but it may be the case that someone with expert fire safety training will need to come in to get the building up to standard. It is not known what the main problem is, whether it is a lack of fire detection or firefighting equipment, obstructed fire doors, or issues with the structural integrity of the building.

A full fire risk assessment will need to be carried out, and its findings acted upon, before the premises can be leased or sold.

Newly qualified first aider saves choking toddlers life

A woman from Derbyshire who had only just completed a first aid training course was able to use her new skills to save her son’s life after he started choking on some crisps.

Claire Gascoyne, a 37-year-old mum from Coal Aston in Derbyshire, knew immediately what she had to do when her terrified son Thomas, 3, started choking on a Doritos crisp. She placed the toddler over her knee and delivered two blows to the back to dislodge the snack from his throat, clear the obstruction and stop Thomas from choking.

Amazingly, Claire, who has ambitions of becoming a childminder, had only just completed a two-day paediatric first aid training course the day before the frightening incident occurred. She said of the incident:

“We had covered choking the day before on the first aid course so I instantly knew what I had to do to help Thomas.

“My husband had panicked and wanted to give him a glass of water but I knew that I needed to act quickly to clear the obstruction.

“I am so glad that I had done the first aid course and that I knew what to do – without it the situation could have ended very differently.”