HSE figures reveal workplace fatalities have risen

The latest figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have suggested that there has been a worrying rise in the number of fatal work-related incidents in the last year, and that employers could be doing more to protect their workers.

The HSE statistics show that 171 workers were killed between April 2010 and March 2011, which is a significant increase to the 147 workplace-related deaths recorded in 2009-2010.

Employers have a statutory duty to ensure the safety of their employees whilst in the workplace, but these figures suggest that not enough practical steps are being taken to prevent needless accidents, injuries and casualties.

The chair of the Health and Safety Executive, Judith Hackitt, urged employers to be more rigorous in carrying out risk assessments, sending staff on health and safety training courses, and improving safety standards. She said:

“The increase in the number of deaths in the last year is disappointing, after an all-time low last year.

“It’s a stark reminder of the need to ensure that health and safety remains focused on the real risks, which exist in workplaces not on trivia and pointless paperwork.”

Wolverhampton bar fined £9,000 over hygiene standards

The owners of a bar in the centre of Wolverhampton have been ordered to pay a substantial fine after a catalogue of food hygiene problems were uncovered at the premises.

City centre bar The Varsity, located on Stafford Street, was visited by environmental health officers from Wolverhampton City Council in November 2010. After a thorough inspection, officers reported that the bar had appalling standards of food hygiene and cleanliness.

The owners of the bar, the Buckinghamshire-based Barracuda Bars Co Ltd, were prosecuted by the council over the state of the premises. Donna Richards, prosecuting in Wolverhampton Magistrates Court, said that the inspection report stated that there was a “significant accumulation of grease and food debris on the floor” in the bar, along with a host of other problems.

After admitting that they failed to comply with food hygiene regulations, the bar’s owners were fined £7,000 and ordered to pay court costs of £1,045.

This case demonstrates the importance of food hygiene training for all members of staff in bars, restaurants and hotels. On a food safety training course, employees will learn about the standards that food-serving premises are expected to meet, and how they can play a part in making this happen.

Somerset farmers urged to undergo first aid training

Following the release of statistics which suggest that the agriculture is one of the most dangerous to work in, farmers in Somerset have been urged to undergo first aid training.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recently published data which showed that there were 34 fatal injuries within the agriculture sector in 2010-11. This works out at an average of 8 fatalities per 100,000 workers last year, which is a considerable amount compared to the average 9.6 deaths recorded over the last five years.

Other industries in which fatality rates were high last year included construction (50 fatal injuries), manufacturing (27) and services (47).

According to an article in the Bridgwater Mercury, St John’s Ambulance is now urging farmers and anyone else working within the agriculture industry to consider taking a first aid training course. Even a basic training course can teach agricultural workers how to carry out CPR, deal with injuries, wounds and bleeding, and how to contact the emergency services.

In short, the skills learnt on first aid training courses could help to save someone’s life, as well as making the sector a much safer one to work in.

Meat firm fined £25,000 for health and safety breaches

A meat processing firm based in Northern Ireland has been prosecuted and fined for health and safety breaches after an employee was seriously injured in a work-related accident.

Forklift truck driver Lucas de Costa, 32, sustained serious head injuries after a stack of heavy pallets fell on him whilst working at the Linden Foods of Dungannon factory in February 2010. In fact, Mr de Costa injuries were so severe that he is now in a semi-paralysed state and requires full-time care in a nursing home.

An investigation was launched following the shocking incident, and a number of breaches of health and safety regulations were uncovered at the factory. As well as not receiving the correct health and safety training, Mr de Costa was also found to have been driving a truck that did not have adequate overhead protection. There was also some confusion over the shape and type of pallets he was to move.

Despite spending £75,000 on safety improvements since the incident, Linden Foods of Dungannon was found in Omagh Crown Court to be liable for Mr de Costa’s injuries and was fined £25,000 as a result.

Norovirus outbreak contained at Isle of Man care home

The Cummal Mooar care home in Ramsey, Isle of Man, has been hit by an outbreak of the vomiting bug known as norovirus.

The virus is believed to have affected ten residents and six staff at the home, which is located on Queen’s Promenade in Ramsey.

The health service in charge of the home has issued a statement to reassure the public, as well as friends and family of those affected, that the norovirus outbreak has been contained to two out of the three units in the home.

A spokesman said that the staff at the Cummal Mooar nursing home had received extensive infection control training and were handling the situation competently. He explained:

“They are experienced in dealing with these outbreaks and have good systems in place. Normally after 48 hours, things tend to abate and we are back to business as usual.

Our third unit has remained completely free from of any infection due to good infection control measures by the teams.”

As a further measure to prevent the spread of infection, all podiatry clinics which usually run at the home have been moved to Ramsey and District Cottage Hospital until further notice.

Surrey roofing company handed health and safety fine

A roofing firm from Purley in Surrey has been fined more than £6,000 for breaching health and safety regulations at a site in Croydon.

In April 2009, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspected a detached house in Croydon that was being worked on by Brunwin Professional Roofing Services Ltd.

Even though the company had been trading for 23 years, it appears that its health and safety training was not up to scratch. Inspectors found a number of worrying problems and hazards, including poorly positioned scaffolding that workers could have fallen through.

It was also revealed that the company’s employees had been removing asbestos-containing materials (ACM) without notifying the HSE or possessing the legally required asbestos removal licence.

Brunwin Professional Roofing Services Ltd was prosecuted at the City of London Magistrates Court and was fined £6,000 after admitting breaching health and safety rules. The firm was also ordered to pay £2,406 in legal costs.

Commenting on the case, HSE inspector Bose Ogunsekan said:

“Falls from height are the biggest cause of fatal injury in the construction industry and recent years have seen sharp increases in cases of ill health linked to asbestos in trades such as roofing.
Brunwin Professional Roofing Services failed to carry out work in a safe way.”

Haverhill hotel excels in food, fire and health and safety audits

A hotel in the Suffolk town of Haverhill has proved the importance of proper health and safety training as it scored top marks in a total of three food, fire and health and safety audits.

All three audits, along with a fourth relating to brand engagement and development, were carried out within just one week at the Days Inn Hotel at Haverhill. Common Sense Compliance carried out the Fire Safety Audit and the Health and Safety Audit, whilst Wyndham Worldwide undertook the other two.

The hotel scored an impressive 98 per cent in both the fire safety and the health and safety checks, whilst the Food Safety Audit produced a score of 96 per cent.

General manager Donna Revell expressed her delight and pride at the hotel’s achievements, saying:

“It is quite unusual to have four audits in one week but I am delighted to say we sailed through them all.

There are so many different factors that have to come together to ensure a guest has a positive experience, from customer service to housekeeping to health and safety.

The results of the external audits validate that we are getting it right.”

Ms Revell also praised her hard-working team, all of whom have undergone rigorous training in food safety, health and safety and fire safety so that the hotel can maintain its high safety standards.

Homebuilding company receives health and safety award

A small homebuilding company which operates across the Midlands and the North of England has been honoured with a gold-standard health and safety award.

Keepmoat Homes won its third gold honour this year from the prestigious RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) Health and Safety Awards. The company has won this award two years previously, in 2008 and in 2010, for its work developing a uniform safety culture across the business.

As well as ensuring health and safety training standards are continuously high, Keepmoat Homes has implemented regular safety audits and site inspections and has even launched a reward scheme for new safety innovations.

Peter Hindley, the managing director of the company, spoke of his pride over the award and said that health and safety is a huge priority in the industry he works in.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents commented on Keepmoat’s win, with awards manager David Rawlins saying:

“RoSPA firmly believes that organisations that have demonstrated their commitment to continuous improvement in accident and ill health prevention deserve recognition.”

“Keepmoat Homes has shown that it is committed to striving for such continuous improvement and we are delighted to honour it through the presentation of an award.”

Takeaway owner fined for health and safety breaches

The owner of a former takeaway in Swindon town centre has been ordered to pay more than £5,000 in fines and legal costs after a number of serious health and safety breaches were uncovered at the premises.

Gustan Mahmood, the former owner of the Princestonâ’s Grill restaurant on Market Street, was inspected by environmental health officers from Swindon Council. This inspection resulted in prosecution proceedings, as officers found mould growing on food items, improper storage of food, and other unhygienic conditions. Staff did not seem to have undergone the proper food safety training, and no food safety management system seemed to be in place at the takeaway.

Mr Mahmood, whilst insisting that he had been on a food hygiene training course, nonetheless pleaded guilty to 10 charges of breaching health and safety regulations. He was fined £2,900 and ordered to pay £3,087 in court costs. The Princetonâ’s Grill restaurant closed down soon after the inspection and has since been replaced by another business.

The prosecutor on the case, Phil Wirth, said:

“It was clear to the officers that Mr Mahmood has a poor understanding of his obligations to maintain the appropriate level of food hygiene within the premises.”

“These offences relate to matters affecting public health and safety, failing to comply with requirements of food safety and health and safety regulations, exposing the public to significant health risks.”

Peterborough hospital handed health and safety improvement notice

A private city hospital in Peterborough has been ordered to improve standards of health and safety after an inspector uncovered a few problems on a recent visit.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) confirmed to local newspaper the Evening Telegraph that is had issued an improvement notice to bosses of Fitzwilliam Hospital in Bretton, mainly in relation to the permits it grants to contractors working in hazardous situations on the hospital premises.

The HSE expressed concern over the risk assessment and control procedures that were in place to protect contractors working in confined spaces or near high voltage electrical equipment.

A spokeswoman for the HSE said that the hospital needed to improve its health and safety training standards for those in charge of issuing these permits. She said:

“The hospital has been required to review its existing permit to work arrangements with a view to improving the knowledge and understanding of those staff who are responsible for authorising and administering these systems.”

Fitzwilliam hospital now has two month to comply with the HSE’s recommendations or 21 days to appeal the improvement notice. The marketing manager at the hospital said that neither action would affect patients in any way.