27 June 2022

Health & Safety Roundup

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Our Health & Safety team take a look at recent prosecutions, updates and developments.

Prosecutions

Newtownabbey company fined

NK Coatings Limited has been fined £120,000 having entered a guilty plea to a breach of Article 4 of the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978. The case related to an incident on 23rd September 2020 when a metal storage rack fell from the forks of a fork-lift truck and fatally injured an employee. It was reported that there was no risk assessment for the activity and that a prohibition notice was also served following the incident.

Council prosecution of Jewson Builders Merchants Yard

Following an investigation by Thanet District Council, Jewson Builders Merchants Yard which is part of Saint Gobain Building Distribution Limited, has been fined £400k (with costs of £23,094) for a breach of Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The fine was reduced to £400k from £600k following an early guilty plea.

The case related to an incident in August 2021 where an employee received life-changing injuries and another received deep cuts and lacerations. Two prohibition notices and three improvement notices were also served during the investigation.

Company fined following fork lift truck accident

A fish processing company based in Scalloway, QA Fish Limited, has been fined £80k following the death of an employee who was involved in an incident on 31st January 2018.

The employee, Karen Allan, was a quality controller and housekeeper with the company. Mrs Allan was struck by a reversing fork lift truck after putting some rubbish into a bin.

It was reported that the company had failed to put in place a health and safety management system. HSE also noted that “no site-specific workplace transport risk assessment had been carried out”.

Suspended prison sentences following fragile roof fall

Two individuals, Ian Blacklin and Dennis Spence, have reportedly received suspended prison sentences following the death of a worker who fell through a fragile roof on 16th November 2015.HSE noted that “there was a significant failure to plan and manage the over-cladding of roofs over fragile roofing material”.

Both defendants had entered guilty pleas to various health and safety charges. Mr Blacklin was sentenced to 16 months (suspended for 18 months) and Mr Spence was sentenced to 14 months (suspended for 18 months) with costs of £1,800.

Care home fined

A care provider, The Richmond Fellowship Scotland, has been fined £450,000 for breach of Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work (etc) Act 1974 following a two-week trial.

The case related to a tragic incident on 10th June 2016 where a vulnerable adult with severe learning difficulties drowned in a bath. A baby monitor had been provided to alert workers if the resident got out of bed, however, HSE’s investigation found this was “neither suitable nor sufficient”.

Other Health and Safety News

REACH Compliance

HSENI and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (“NIEA)” will be conducting joint inspections across the metal surface treatment industry in July and August.

The purpose of the inspections is to assess compliance with REACH (the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006).

Further information can be found here.

New HSE Ten-Year Strategy - “Protecting People and Places”

HSE (GB) has launched its new strategy setting out priorities for the next decade . Focus areas include establishing the Building Safety Regulator and an enhanced role in chemical regulation post Brexit.

Page 5 of the strategy notes that one of the objectives will be to “reduce work-related ill health, with a specific focus on mental health and stress”.It is noted that the most frequently reported causes of ill-health in Great Britain are “stress, depression, or anxiety”.

If you would like any further information or advice relating to health and safety law, please contact Ashleigh Birkett or Ben Johnston from the team at Carson McDowell LLP.

*This information is for guidance purposes only and does not constitute, nor should be regarded, as a substitute for taking legal advice that is tailored to your circumstances.

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