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.

Company fined after fatal accident at work

Railcare Ltd has been fined £133,000 (reduced from £200,000 on account of their guilty plea) at Glasgow Sheriff Court for a breach of Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, following the death of one of their employees in December 2008. John Smith, a 53-year old employee of the company, died as a result of head injuries sustained whilst working at an axle lathe that had an unguarded chuck.

The company pled guilty to:

  • failing to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the risks to employees when cleaning axles on a lathe;
  • failing to implement a safe system of work in that the chuck of the lathe was unguarded when employees were working close to it; and
  • failing to provide adequate information, instruction, training and supervision on the use of the lathe.


Following the case, Elaine Taylor, Head of the COPFS Health and Safety Division, said:

“This case yet again demonstrates the crucial importance of employers carrying out suitable and sufficient assessment of risks to their employees in the course of their daily work, taking the steps necessary to identify such risks, and thereafter ensuring that safe systems of work are in place and dangerous machinery parts are properly guarded. Railcare failed in each of these respects in relation to the axle lathe.”

"As a result, Mr Smith lost his life in an entirely avoidable incident.”

 

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Health Board fined after patient contracts legionnaires’ disease

Lanarkshire Health Board has been fined £24,000 at Hamilton Sheriff Court for a breach of Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, which led to the serious illness of a hospital patient.

Over the course of November 2008, the 64-year old female patient at Hartwoodhill Hospital became gravely unwell.

She was admitted to Wishaw General Hospital, where it was discovered that she was suffering from pneumonia and severe sepsis and was diagnosed as having Legionnaires’ Disease. She was treated with intravenous antibiotics, but required to undergo a tracheotomy on 1st December 2008. She returned to Hartwoodhill Hospital on 23rd December.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified that legionella bacteria was present in three sources in the water system at the hospital. Two of those sources, including the shower used by the patient on a daily basis, matched the strain of legionella bacteria that had caused her illness.

The HSE investigation also established that a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks from the potential presence of legionella bacteria to persons using the facilities had not been carried out, nor was there a safe scheme in place to manage and control the risks of exposure to that form of bacteria in the water system at Hartwoodhill Hospital.

Following the case, Elaine Taylor, Head of the COPFS Health and Safety Division, said: “Legionnaires’ disease is a very dangerous illness and those who fail to manage their systems adequately and expose persons to risk of contracting it, whether private companies or bodies such as Health Boards, can expect to be prosecuted.”

 

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Regulator prosecutes Network Rail for Grayrigg train derailment

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has announced that it has begun criminal proceedings against Network Rail for a breach of health and safety law which caused a train to derail near Grayrigg in 2007.

On 23rd February 2007, the 17.15 Virgin Trains service from London Euston to Glasgow Central derailed on the West Coast Mainline near Grayrigg in Cumbria. There were 109 people on board. One passenger, Mrs Margaret Masson, was killed and a further 86 people were injured, 28 seriously.

Ian Prosser, Director of Railway Safety at ORR, said:

“ORR has conducted a thorough investigation into whether criminal proceedings should be brought in relation to the train derailment near Grayrigg on 23rd February 2007, which caused the death of Mrs Masson and injured 86 people. Following the coroner’s inquest into the death of Mrs Masson, I have concluded that there is enough evidence, and that it is in the public interest, to bring criminal proceedings against Network Rail for a serious breach of health and safety law which led to the train derailment.

“The railway today is as safe as it has ever been but there can be no room for complacency. The entire rail industry must continue to strive for improvements to ensure that public safety is never put at risk.” 

Network Rail is facing a charge under section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. This results from the company’s failure to provide and implement suitable and sufficient standards, procedures, guidance, training, tools and resources for the inspection and maintenance of fixed stretcher-bar points.

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Firm fined after technician's death at factory

An experienced technician at a plastic products factory in Cornwall was killed after he was crushed between the plates on a machine used to make plastic lids.

The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted Curver UK Ltd (formerly Contico Europe Ltd) for failing to provide adequate safety measures.

Truro Crown Court heard that in preparing the machinery Mr O'Dwyer needed to access the plastic mouldings machine's plates. This was normally done via a guard which, when opened, prevented the machine from operating. However in this case one of the conveyors on the machine had been removed and Mr O'Dwyer was able to access the machine through an unguarded gap. Whilst he was inside the press started to operate and the plates closed crushing him at a pressure of over 1,000 tonnes.

Curver UK Ltd pleaded guilty to committing a breach of Regulation 11 (1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations under Section 33(1) (c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £160,000 and ordered to pay £32,000 costs.

 

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