Lawford Kidd's Blog

Lawford Kidd's injury solicitors' blog designed to cover all areas of the law relating to accident compensation claims, injury claims and no win no fee in Scotland.

Changes to health and safety reporting

With effect from 6th April, employers no longer have to report to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) injuries which keep workers off normal duties for seven or fewer days. Previously, injuries had to be reported if they kept workers off normal duties for more than three days.

The change to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995 will see a fall of around 30% in the number of incidents that must be reported by law – an average of around 30,000 fewer reports a year. The move is estimated to save businesses 10,000 hours a year.

Employers will also be given a longer period in which to report, increasing from 10 to 15 days from the time of the incident.

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Demolition firm sentenced over asbestos danger

A demolition firm has been sentenced after knocking down a building in the Lake District containing hundreds of asbestos ceiling tiles, putting the lives of workers and local residents at risk.

IBT Contracting Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after carrying out the work at a former photography factory, despite not having a licence to remove asbestos.

Kendal Magistrates' Court heard IBT had been given a survey by the owners of the site ahead of the work taking place, which stated that the building contained 166 square metres of asbestos ceiling tiles.

But the company failed to arrange for a licensed contractor to remove the tiles safely, and instead released deadly asbestos fibres into the air during the building's demolition.

IBT Contracting pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006, for removing asbestos without a licence, exposing workers to asbestos fibres, and allowing the fibres to spread to neighbouring areas.

The company was fined £10,800 and ordered to pay £3,638.95 in prosecution costs. 

Asbestos was used in ceiling tiles up until the 1980s to help insulate buildings. The tiles only become dangerous if they are broken up and asbestos fibres are released into the air.

Fibres that are breathed in can become lodged in the lungs or digestive tract, and may lead to lung cancer or other diseases if large numbers of fibres are inhaled. However, symptoms may not appear for several decades.

Around 4,000 people die every year as a result of breathing in asbestos fibres, making it the biggest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK.

Find out more about claims for asbestos exposure here.

 

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Window and door manufacturer fined after worker killed

A firm specialising in the manufacture of wooden doors and windows has been fined for safety failings after a worker died at its Leyton premises.

Andrzej Rokita had been with M M Contracting Ltd for only ten days when he attempted to help his son, also an employee, to remove a large board from the middle of a pile stacked upright against a wall in the workshop.

The company's usual system for doing this was for one employee to stand in front of the stack, taking the weight of the unwanted boards on his hands, while a fellow worker pulled out the chosen one from the side. Unfortunately as Mr Rokita tried to support the weight of the leaning wooden panels they toppled over, crushing him and causing fatal head injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and found that the company did not have a safe system of work for the storage or retrieval of boards. Storing the boards flat on the floor or using a simple purpose-built racking system would have greatly reduced the risk of injury.

After today's sentencing hearing at Southwark Crown Court, HSE inspector Kevin Smith said:

"This was a death waiting to happen. Incidents such as this are still a common occurrence in the industry despite the existence of guidance from the HSE offering simple, inexpensive solutions for stacking wood safely.

"As a direct result of the company's failure to provide safe storage for their everyday materials, a father and husband has lost his life. There is no excuse for employers not ensuring that wood on their premises is properly stored, posing the most minimal risk to their staff."

The company pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £26,000 and ordered to pay £9,000 in costs.

 

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Leading horse trainer in court after worker's fall

The owner of racing stables in North Yorkshire has been prosecuted after a yard worker fell more than three metres through a skylight in a stable block.

Paul Cussons, who had worked at Thorndale Farm near Richmond for 26 years, was asked by trainer and bloodstock agent Alan Swinbank to cut down some overhanging trees above an ageing stable block before planned renovation work.

Mr Cussons had not been trained in either the use of a chainsaw or in how to work safely at height. He took a chainsaw onto the roof of the stable block but as he was sawing through the branches he slipped on some leaves and fell through a skylight, landing on the concrete floor below. He broke both shoulder blades, fractured a rib and punctured a lung.

The Health and Safety Executive investigated and two Prohibition Notices were served on Mr Swinbank preventing further work activity with the chainsaw and stopping work at height.

Mr Alan Swinbank pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £6,048 in costs.

The agricultural sector has the highest rate of fatalities of any other industry in Great Britain. The five year average rate of fatal injury is 0.7 per 100,000 for all workers. In agriculture, it is 9.6 per 100,000, much higher than any other industry. In 2010/11 there were 34 fatal injuries to workers.

Find out more about farm or rural accidents here.

 

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HSE clampdown to reduce death and injury on construction sites

Construction sites are being put under the spotlight as part of an intensive inspection initiative aimed at reducing death, injury and ill health.

During February and March, inspectors from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) will be visiting sites where refurbishment or repair works are being carried out. This is part of a national drive to improve standards in one of the Britain's most dangerous industries.

Their primary focus will be high-risk activity such as working at height and also 'good order' such as ensuring sites are clean and tidy with clear access routes.

The purpose of the initiative is to remind those working in construction that poor standards are unacceptable, and could result in enforcement action.

During 2010/11, 50 workers were killed while working in construction and 2298 major injuries were reported. Falls from height remains one of the most common causes of fatalities and major injuries in the construction sector in Great Britain, with more than five incidents recorded every day.

Philip White, HSE Chief Inspector of Construction, said:

"The refurbishment sector continues to be the most risky for construction workers, all too often straightforward practical precautions are not considered and workers are put at risk. In many cases simple changes to working practices can make all the difference.”

 

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